Nella Mae’s Farm Apprentice


Company: Nella Mae's Farm
Location: Cove
Compensation: 15/h
Employment Type: Full-Time, Internship / Apprentice
Job Categories: Agriculture
Region: Eastern
Date Posted: January 16, 2024

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https://www.roguefarmcorps.org/host-farms/nellamaes

Nella Mae’s Farm is a produce farm managed with low-till, regenerative, and holistic practices. We also raise a few beef for market with my neighbor. Nella Mae sells at our on-farm farmstand, the La Grande Farmers Market, several retail outlets, one CSA, and restaurants in two counties.

Nella Mae’s Farm is at the base of the Wallowa Mountains in northeast Oregon. We have woods and wildlife habitat on our place and farm and graze five acres. The farm is just outside the “city” of Cove, population 500. Cove is on the east side of the Grande Ronde Valley, population 26,000, one of the largest round valleys in the world. While this is technically high desert, the snow melt, rivers and a high water table make this place rich for agriculture. We also face a short spring, extreme temperature swings in the summer, and increasingly variable weather. Nella Mae is learning to adapt every year.

Most of the farms in the valley are hundreds or thousands of acres and grow grass, grains and sunflowers for seed, alfalfa, mint, and sugar beets. There is a healthy number of small-scale farms growing meat, produce, and nursery crops, and our small group of small farms is mutually supportive and highly collaborative. Nella Mae has found a huge amount of support locally large and small, as well as fellow business owners, customers, and neighbors as she has grown the farm. She looks forward to enhancing an Apprentice’s experience at the farm through sharing experiences with her own mentors and farmer friends.

The farm crew is small and tight-knit. Many of the folks who work at our farm work at a neighboring nursery run by Nella Mae’s mentors as well. We have a friendly, fun crew and focus on collaboration, teamwork, improving systems together, and eating well. Nella Mae cooks lunch for the crew every harvest day.

2024 will be the 11th season of Nella Mae’s Farm, but she grew up on her family’s farm and started selling at the La Grande Farmers Market when she was 10 years old. However, due to the difficulty of farming, she was encouraged to leave agriculture behind and go to college. Her return to agriculture was a surprise to everyone, and was made possible by the local food movement of the 2000’s.

Nella Mae’s philosophy is influenced primarily by Holistic Management, lean farming, low-till practices, and by agricultural, and soil science. The farm’s purpose is to feed our community, build soil, and enhance the wellbeing of the land and those who tend it.

An Apprenticeship is part of Rogue Farm Corps’ beginning farmer training program. Hands-on field training at the Host Farm is complemented by a series of classes, farm tours, discussions, and networking events organized by Rogue Farm Corps. 

 

EDUCATIONAL EVENTS

Apprentices join other beginning farmers for an Educational Event Series facilitated by Rogue Farm Corps.

The satellite farm event series includes:

24 classes focused on foundational sustainable agriculture concepts, skills, and knowledge and the food system.

4-6 farm tours which showcase practical skills and individual farmers’ stories, as well as provide insight into diverse production and marketing systems. Mainly via 3 weekend intensives.  

3-5 discussion circles with topics including Food Justice / Food Sovereignty, and Next Steps for Beginning Farmers.

RFC strives to make all educational events inclusive and welcoming to people from all backgrounds and identities. Classes, tours, and discussions are led by Rogue Farm Corps staff, agricultural professionals, and expert farmers. Scholarships are available.