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Beginning farmers encouraged to apply for Labor4Learning Program

Rory Van Wyk, center, with his wife, Lynette, right, and Mary Cory of Elkhart, left, at the Practical Farmers of Iowa 2014 conference. Rory worked with Mary and her husband, Tom, on their farm to gain experience that will help him one day begin farming on his own. Submitted photo
Rory Van Wyk, center, with his wife, Lynette, right, and Mary Cory of Elkhart, left, at the Practical Farmers of Iowa 2014 conference. Rory worked with Mary and her husband, Tom, on their farm to gain experience that will help him one day begin farming on his own. Submitted photo

Are you a beginning or aspiring farmer looking for paid work opportunities that will offer real-world insights into the business and life of farming? If so, consider applying to Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Labor4Learning Program. The program, now entering its second year, seeks to give beginners who are considering a farming career paid on-the-job experience while helping established farmers attract high-quality, motivated farm employees.

This season, 11 selected PFI trainer farms around Iowa are hiring for the 2014 growing season. Applications are encouraged by Feb. 28, and should be made directly to the participating farms. Employment opportunities on these farms range from three to 24 months. A list of participating farms is included below, and specific farm needs and job descriptions can be found at http://practicalfarmers.org/programs/youth-and-next-generation/Labor4Lea...

Benefits: In addition to one-on-one time gaining practical farm management skills from an experienced farmer, trainees in the Labor4Learning Program will learn about farm business planning and financing – knowledge that’s vital for future success. Trainees also:

· Are eligible for a day of paid time off to attend a PFI event during their term of employment

· Receive a discounted rate to attend the 2015 PFI Annual Conference (a $100 value)

· Receive preference toward eligibility for free home-stay lodging during the 2015 conference

· Have opportunities to connect with other PFI trainees

Experienced farmers benefit from having an employee who is highly motivated and committed to working on a farm for a complete season.

Rory Van Wyk, who was a trainee with Cory Family Farm in 2013, says the program experience was “wonderful,” and that even after the term officially ended he has continued to be mentored by Tom and Mary Cory. “Having this chance to get hands-on experience and mentoring has been a tremendous blessing as my family and I seek an opportunity to begin farming in the future.”

Qualifications: To become a trainee, applicants must apply to and be hired by a training farm; have a strong desire to learn about the business of farming; and be a current member of Practical Farmers of Iowa (individual or whole-farm membership types both qualify). Those who want to apply but aren’t currently PFI members can sign up at www.practicalfarmers.org/join-pfi.html or by calling Erica Andorf at (515) 232-5661.

For questions about the Labor4Learning Program, contact Luke Gran, PFI’s member and sponsor coordinator, at luke@practicalfarmers.org or (515) 232-5661.

2014 Trainer Farms

· Jill Beebout and Sean Skeehan – Blue Gate Farm – Chariton – LUCAS COUNTY

Certified Naturally Grown fruits and vegetables, honey, jams, yarn and fibers, poultry and hay

· Andy and Melissa Dunham – Grinnell Heritage Farm – Grinnell – POWESHIEK COUNTY

Certified organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef cattle, poultry

· Rob Faux – Genuine Faux Farm – Tripoli – BREMER COUNTY

Certified Organic fruits and vegetables, poultry

· Earl and Jeff Hafner – Early Morning Harvest – Panora – GUTHRIE COUNTY

Certified organic row crops (corn, soybeans) small grains and hay. Beef cattle, swine, horticulture products grown via an aquaponics system, tree crops/orchard, honey

· Rick and Stacy Hartmann – Small Potatoes Farm – Minburn – DALLAS COUNTY

Certified organic fruits and vegetables, poultry

· Ryan Herman – Herman’s Heartland Farm – New Albin – ALLAMAKEE COUNTY

Beef cow/calf, beef yearling grazing, custom beef grazing, sheep

· Susan Jutz – ZJ Farms – Solon – JOHNSON COUNTY

Fruits and vegetables, seed garlic, grass-fed sheep

· James Nisly – Organic Greens, LLC – Kalona – WASHINGTON COUNTY

Mini greens, micro greens, asparagus, cabbage and sweet potatoes

· Scott Shriver – Shriver Farms – Jefferson – GREENE COUNTY

Certified organic row crops (corn, soybeans), alfalfa hay and small grains (wheat, buckwheat)

· Erik Sessions – Patchwork Green Farm – Decorah – WINNESHIEK COUNTY

Organically grown (but not certified) fruits, vegetables and cut flowers

· John Wesselius – The Cornucopia – Sioux Center – SIOUX COUNTY

Certified Naturally Grown fruits and vegetables, pastured poultry and some outdoor pigs

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