What You Will Do
My goal is that this be a positive learning experience for you. We will have daily meetings to discuss what is going well and what needs addressing. Any problems that arise, we will discuss together and solicit ideas and suggestions from everyone. We will form a joint plan together. Everyone is a stakeholder in this season so your ideas and opinions are important.
To further your learning, you will each get a handbook outlining what is important for this year's success. The handbook will be a summary of what we will be learning. It also will contain workplace and food safety guidelines for the farm.
In early April, most of our work will occur in the greenhouses and in the eight high tunnels. We will be getting the soil ready in the high tunnels and will begin planting. We will also be doing a lot of transplanting and planting in the main greenhouse. By following soil test results, we will be first spreading the elements that are missing from the soil to our land by tractor and spreader. As soon as the weather allows, we will be planting crops outside in the field. Peas and potatoes are planted with tractors and planters. Onion sets are among those planted by hand. This year we are getting a mechanical transplanter that will make planting a breeze. The first people to arrive in April will help me get these jobs off to a flying start.
In May, we begin to plant warm weather crops such as sweet corn and green beans with the tractor planter. The real focus of time in May is to work on the crops planted in the field, such as tomatoes, melons, cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers and kale. Planting of melons, pumpkins, radishes, and squash will also occur. Our goal will be to try to stage the early crops so they are not ready until the first week in June when the CSA starts.
In June, the CSA routes begin, which means a lot of harvesting, packing, and planning! We will be planting, too, and more time will be focused on weeding. We are also going to use a rotary hoe and rolling cultivator on the row crops of sweet corn, green beans, and peas so we are hoping that increases weed protection efficiency there. In all cases, we will try to be proactive on the weeds so hand weeding can be kept to a minimum.
In June we also will continue the stages of romaine lettuce for the CSA. Our goal is to keep romaine lettuce going all summer, which is no small feat! Lettuce doesn't like hot summer weather. The first stages of lettuce will be planted as secondary crops in the high tunnels. We will be doing successive plantings of lettuce and chard all season. Sweet corn, peas and green beans are also planted in successive stages so we have a continuous crop as long as possible. The key to success of any farm market or CSA is successive plantings. You will experience that all summer!
July becomes the most intense month with the harvest of small items such as peas. This becomes much easier in August when peas are replaced by larger items such as sweet corn, melons and tomatoes. This year, with only our CSA, I am not sure what our typical day will be. How efficient we are as a team will determine how long the days have to be. The new harvesting equipment will also be a factor. We will do lots of planning each week to determine how we can best use our time to fill the CSA boxes with the most fresh produce possible. Each week, we will tour the farm to determine urgency of jobs and what should go in next week's box. A lot of our learning will occur on those tours.
Each week, the plan will evolve for how we fill the CSA box. As we progress through the summer and the crops change, the plan will evolve as well. Planning the box will be a wonderful team effort!
The bottom line is I hope to give everyone as well rounded an experience as I can. I would like to have each person experience tractor work, if they so choose, and participate in traveling gun and trickle irrigation. We will all take part in planting, weeding and harvesting.
The most exciting feature of this season is we are buying 108 more acres of land bringing our total acreage to 313 acres. This new land will allow us to farm in 78 foot alternating strips. The strips will be crop, cover crop, crop, cover crop, etc. The cover crops will build organic matter and fertility, reduce compaction, reduce weeds, increase water retention, provide a feast for the biology and build a truly sustainable feature to the farm!!
So...should you apply for an internship? When deciding, keep these factors in mind:
- This is more than a job...it is a mission! It would be too much work to merely be a job.
- If you are applying because you have nothing else to do this summer...it is a job.
- If you are applying because sustainable farming is your passion...it is a mission.
- If you think work is merely showing your presence...it is a job.
- If you think work is giving it all you have...it is a mission.
- If your prime goal is earning money...it is a job.
- If your prime goal is being inquisitive and learning...it is a mission.
- We are looking for a few good people on a mission!
If the smell of the earth, the blossoming of plants, the harvesting of produce, the call of a bluebird, the sun on your back, the happy companionship of your co-workers and the satisfaction of bringing our best to our terrific customers appeals to you, consider joining the mission of Bluebird Gardens!
In return, this is what you would get back...
- $1650 per month stipend (in addition to items listed below)
- housing and utilities (usually two interns share a small cabin; the cabins were built in 2012)
- hands-on learning experiences
- vegetables to eat from those we can't use in the weekly box
Don't ever assume our positions are filled for the year! Sometimes, we end up needing more help at the last minute. If you are interested in working here, email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mark at 218-205-4739. You can also use the "Contact Us" form on this website.