Name: Greta Zarro
Job location: West Edmeston, New York
Business name: Unadilla Community Farm
Job/volunteer description: *Now accepting intern applications for the 2021 season (May 2-October 4, 2021)! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to apply.*
COVID Update: We were able to safely carry out our internship last season and host 25 interns throughout the pandemic, by implementing a number of safety protocols. Interns are required to quarantine for 2 weeks prior to arrival, and upon arrival, to have their temperature checked using a non-contact thermometer. At the farm, we all quarantine on-site together.
Unadilla Community Farm is a non-profit off-grid solar-powered education center following the principles of organic agriculture, regenerative agroforestry, and permaculture design. Unadilla Community Farm was founded in 2014 by a group of WWOOFers (volunteers working on organic farms) dedicated to the goals of the back-to-the-land movement. We are situated on 12 acres of field and forest, located alongside a growing Amish community, in central New York State. Our mission is to provide a space for the teaching and practice of sustainable skills.
2021 will be our 8th season hosting interns for our beginning farmer training program. This seasonal accredited internship has attracted interns from North & South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and New Zealand. University students in the U.S. & abroad have earned course credits for our internship program (ask your advisor if you are eligible to earn credit too!). Interns gain hands-on experience in no-till farming, regenerative agroforestry, permaculture design, natural building, and food preservation. We also run a weekly veggie box delivery program, from June to October, providing fresh, seasonal, organically-grown fruits and veggies on a sliding scale to Edmeston families in a USDA low-income, low-access rural food desert.
As a center for sustainable education, we showcase a wide range of regenerative agroforestry techniques aimed at increasing agriculture’s capacity for carbon sequestration, soil building, and ecosystem stewardship. In 2020, we were accepted into USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program. We teach a diversity of USDA recommended conservation practices, such as rainwater collection, multi-story and alley cropping, no-till management, wildlife habitat planting, mulching, on-site composting, crop rotation, and high tunnels. We are now showcasing 200+ varieties of organic annual and perennial vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, fruits, nuts, and berries.
We are using natural building methods, as well as local and salvaged materials, to construct our farm’s infrastructure. Our completed projects include a skoolie (converted school bus), chicken tractor, high tunnel, and an off-grid tiny home with solar panels, rainwater collection, and wood-burning stove. We are in the process of completing a traditional New England timber framed barn on a rammed tire “Earthship” foundation and a 4-season skoolie.
Our internship is more than just a beginning farmer training program. It is an immersion into a rural, sustainable way of life. We are seeking interns interested in disconnecting from the mainstream, learning to support ourselves by growing our own organic produce, utilizing natural building methods to construct our barn and dwelling structures, making our own household products like soap and shampoo, reviving traditional agricultural and lifestyle practices, and living in community.
At the completion of the program, participants will have familiarity with tasks such as: no-till bed preparation, seeding, transplanting, weeding, irrigation, pruning, trellising, integrated pest management, plant propagation, composting, seed saving, mulching, food preservation, use of hand and power tools, timber framing, stone masonry, raising layer hens, and harvesting methods for many types of crops.
Projects for the 2021 season include:
*On-farm research project to test nutrient levels of dynamic accumulators, including producing liquid fertilizers and nutrient-rich mulches, thanks to a Northeast SARE farmer grant
*Build a second solar dehydrator to expand our capacity for drying herbs
*Build 2 timber framed wood sheds
*Build windows and doors for the timber-framed barn
*Build raised beds
*Expand our edible food forest with additional fruit and nut trees, berries, and beneficial companion plants
Beyond providing training in sustainable farming and natural building to prepare interns for careers in food and farming or self-sufficient homesteading, our program is also an opportunity for students and young people to practice interpersonal skills that can be applied to any type of workplace or community living, such as: time management; communication; organization; leadership; listening; and teamwork/collaboration. Participants will also learn concepts such as: food safety basics; introductory marketing strategies; permaculture design; crop rotation; grassroots organizing; and starting & funding food/farming businesses.
On Wednesdays, we hold “Open Night,” a weekly opportunity for interns to teach and share with their peers. Wednesday open nights have taken many forms, such as poetry readings, story-telling, project presentations, and skill-sharing.
On Saturdays starting in mid-June, we run our veggie box delivery program, providing fresh, organic produce to Edmeston families. Interns participate in all aspects of the program, from production to harvesting to the wash and pack station, to gain experience in operating a “CSA-style” farm model.
On Sundays, we host free weekly on-site classes and workshops, on topics such as permaculture design, natural building, soap making, foraging/wildcrafting, gourd crafting, food preservation, mushroom cultivation, agroforestry and food forest design, grassroots organizing, starting and funding a farm, and more.
Due to COVID-19, we have replaced monthly field trips with free virtual workshops with partner organizations throughout the season, on topics such as herbalism, native plants, and farm marketing.
Salary: Thanks to the generous support of our donors, our program covers all intern expenses including room & board, daily on-site training, and weekly classes/workshops, so the program is available at no cost to participants.