The Assistant Farm Manager supports the overall farm and woodlot operations at Chewonki, which include garden and pasture management, animal husbandry, and sustainable forestry operations/firewood production. The Assistant Farm Manager must aid in balancing the dual focus of the Chewonki farm, maximizing both production and education on the farm and in the woods.
THE CHEWONKI FARM
The Chewonki Farm, on Chewonki’s Wiscasset property, is a small and diversified saltmarsh farm; its primary goal is to educate program participants while producing food, firewood, and fiber for our campus community. There are approximately 26 acres of open land; one acre is cultivated for vegetable gardens, 14 acres are established pasture and hay fields, and 11 acres are currently transitioning from forest to pasture. The managed woodlot is approximately 150 acres.
The gardens are intensively managed and are the primary focus of our work during the growing season, producing 10-15,000 pounds of vegetables annually for consumption in our dining hall and by other on-campus programs.
We raise livestock for milk, meat, and fiber. We keep two dairy cows that we milk by hand and breed annually, resulting in steady milk production as well as beef for the kitchen. The farm keeps a small flock breeding ewes, producing lambs for meat each spring. We raise around 200 laying hens, free-ranging most of the year. Up to three hundred broilers and 15 turkeys are pasture-pen raised in the late summer/fall. Two batches of six to eight pigs are raised annually for meat.
Two draft horses provide much of the power for the farm operation including plowing and garden cultivation; hay cutting, tedding, and raking; winter logging and wood hauling; and a wide variety of other tasks. We are always looking for ways to expand our knowledge and to effectively and safely utilize draft horsepower. Whenever possible, horsepower is emphasized as a sustainable and rewarding method of accomplishing valuable labor. We also have a tractor that we use primarily for moving material, turning compost, cutting hay, and clipping pasture.
As mentioned above, we use two horses to log in the winter months. With the help of a professional forester and the Chewonki community, the farm is responsible for managing 150 acres of woodlot. We harvest about 20 to 30 cords of firewood annually. The majority of the work is timber stand improvement and firewood production, and may include maintaining and improving woodlot roads, tree pruning, felling, limbing, slash management, and limited production of sawlogs and pulpwood.
We cut three to five acres of our own hay with a sickle bar mower and bring it in loose. We buy in the remainder of our hay in bales from a local farmer.
The farm crew, in cooperation with the Facilities staff, maintains the majority of the farm buildings, grounds, and machinery.
Education is central to Chewonki’s mission statement: any individual that works on the farm must consider themselves a teacher as well as a farmer. Because our working farm is the context for our education rather than a traditional classroom setting, the farm crew needs to be comfortable and adept with teaching as they work alongside students and program staff. Education about farm and food systems happens both formally and informally at Chewonki and may be grounded in a work experience, a classroom experience, and/or a food preparation and dining experience.
Our primary approach to education on the farm is to integrate young people into meaningful production systems. Additionally, we articulate the “why” behind our systems and build context for how our approach to work and land management fits into the broader scope of farm and food systems nationally and globally. Because the farm acts as a support department to all Chewonki programs, farmers work with young people ages 7 to 18, creating developmentally appropriate and program-specific farm intersections that complement and further a participant’s broader Chewonki experience.
Position Title: Assistant Farm Manager
Employment Category: Category F
Reports to: Farm and Woodlot Manager
Schedule (hours and weeks): Full-time
Benefits Eligible: Yes
The farm crew includes three tiers of positions:
- Leadership positions (year-round): Farm Manager and Assistant Farm Manager
- Crew positions (year-round): Farmer/Educators (2)
- Seasonal crew positions: We hire alumni of Chewonki programs for three- to ten-week positions as Summer Farm Workers during the months of June through August.
Responsibilities of the Assistant Farm Manager:
The Assistant Farm Manager’s areas of responsibility include the following:
- Assist with the managing the three primary production focuses of the Chewonki farm:
- Small-scale, diversified, organic food production
- Low-impact forestry/firewood production
- Pasture and livestock management
- Integrate workhorses into many farm tasks
- Help with maintenance and care of pasture and harvesting of hay
- Work with and teach Maine Coast Semester and Elementary and Middle School students during the academic year through work programs/projects and chores
- Work with summer camp participants and Outdoor Classroom students on various work projects, chores, and lessons during their program season
- Collaborate with the Farm and Woodlot Manager to plan, prioritize, and schedule farm tasks and commitments
- Assist in overseeing year-round and seasonal farm crew
- Organize and maintain tools (mechanized and otherwise)
- Maintain buildings in coordination with facilities department
- Attend various staff meetings, including meetings associated with one to more foundation-level committees (e.g. Risk Management, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, etc.)
- Administrative work to support the functioning of the farm (digital and written record keeping, creation of systems/policies, scheduling, etc.)
- Assist with and coordinate events within the Chewonki community and beyond related to farming and food systems
All Chewonki Farmers:
- Thoughtfully prioritize
- Work to honor and uphold the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and an anti-racist mind-set in the interest of students and staff across the organization
- Recognize and celebrate the farm’s historical context and have the flexibility to grow and adapt systems based in that context
- Are facilitators of Chewonki’s food system
- Make mission-driven decisions
- Use our strengths to support Chewonki’s programs, the farm, and all staff
- Share the workload and responsibilities fairly
- Balance production and education within the farm context
Farm Activities and Responsibilities throughout the annual cycle:
Farmers are expected to be present for morning chores beginning around 5:30 or 6:00 am (season dependent) through afternoon chores beginning at approximately 4:00 pm. Chores to care for livestock are done at the beginning and end of every day throughout the year. Generally, our workday is between nine to ten hours daily, five days a week, and can be more during certain seasons. Each farmer is responsible for weekend chore responsibilities in a regular and scheduled rotation; generally, an individual farmer works one weekend per month.
There is a seasonal flow to work on the Chewonki farm, though there is less of an “off” season than on some market farms. An overview of the whole year is given below.
- February – March: Maine Coast Semester and Elementary and Middle School in session, work program, focus on firewood and woodlot work, early hoop house growing, seed starting
- April – May: Maine Coast Semester, Elementary and Middle School, and Outdoor Classroom in session, work program, seed starting, garden plowing/cultivating/planting, pasture rotation, mowing, fence maintenance, lambing
- June-August: Camp Chewonki in session, Farm Activity support, intensive garden and pasture work, haying, harvesting for kitchen
- September –December: Maine Coast Semester, Elementary and Middle School, and Outdoor Classroom in session, work program, harvesting and storing crops, cover cropping, manure spreading, machinery repair and winterizing, livestock to slaughter, begin wood season preparations, infrastructure management
Late December – January: Maine Coast Semester and Outdoor Classroom on break, farm crew takes approximately three weeks of downtime doing only chores and necessary tasks. Late January farm crew prepares for the Semester and actively manages the woodlot for firewood production.
Required Skills/Experience/Abilities of the Assistant Farm Manager:
- At least three years of farming experience on a diversified farm, with at least two years leadership/supervisory experience in at least two of the following areas:
- Diversified vegetable production (human- and/or horse-powered)
- Animal husbandry, preferably including horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, and/or chickens
- Sustainable forestry principles and practices
- Integration of young people into production systems and/or farm-based education
- Ability to work collaboratively and effectively with different kinds of people
- Ability to or willingness to learn to use draft horsepower on a diversified farm
- Ability to operate a tractor and chainsaw, lift at least 50 pounds, and do routine repairs on equipment, fences, and buildings
- Ability to communicate well verbally and in writing
- Ability to oversee a work crew, as well as manage projects collaboratively
- Ability to work in a small community
SALARY AND BENEFITS
Annual salary is based on years of work experience falling within $38,000-$45,500. Benefits include; health insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, optional vision insurance, long-term disability, 403(b) retirement plan (currently matching up to 4.5% after one year of service), paid time off, and access to professional development funds. Some year-round farm crew members live on campus within the residential learning community; some farm crew members live off campus. While many position responsibilities are similar for residential and non-residential crew members, residential farm crew members sometimes have additional evening or overnight responsibilities and are the first to respond in an on-farm emergency. This position is a non-residential position.
Applications due: Accepting applicants until position is filled
Ideal start date: Mid to late October
Please see https://farm.chewonki.org/ for more information about Chewonki’s Farm and Food System. Please complete the following information and submit a cover letter explaining your interest and a resume.