Location: Dexter, MI
Deadline: May 31, 2017
Nature and Nurture
FARM INTERNSHIP DESCRIPTION 2016
Mike Levine and Erica Kempter
7100 Marshall Rd.
Dexter, MI 48130
Description of Nature and Nurture
We are the owners of Nature and Nurture, Mike Levine and Erica Kempter. We have been doing organic landscape maintenance, fruit and vegetable gardening, and consulting for 20 years. Our farm was purchased in 2013 and we are in the exciting process of moving and expanding to the farm. We live on-site year round. We are transitioning to become a certified organic farm and are on track to do that by 2017. We are located in Scio Township about 8 miles west of downtown Ann Arbor (pop. 117,025). The closest town is the city of Dexter (small town, pop. 4,160), about 2.8 miles to the north.
Our farm is situated on 80.6-acres of wetlands, woods, and clay-loam fields with diverse topography. We have at least 40 acres of fields and the rest is wooded. We produce shiitake mushrooms which are sold to local restaurants. We grow vegetable seeds and sell them online through Nature and Nurture Seeds. Extra produce is sold through various avenues. We have a fruit tree nursery and young orchard. We teach organic gardening classes. All of these projects will be expanded at our new farm. In addition, we will be planning, designing, and implementing permaculture, edible forest projects, and restoration agriculture. A local farmer will be growing organic hay on many of our acres. We will be continuing our landscape gardening business which is primarily offsite at various residences in the Ann Arbor area.
Our Internship Overview
We are looking for self-motivated interns with a positive attitude and good work ethic, who would like to work on a bio-intensive, medium-sized, organic farm. Responsibilities may include soil preparation, planting, weeding, harvesting, irrigation, seed cleaning, and working on basic farm infrastructure (helping build fences, hoop houses, etc). We hope to create an opportunity for those with culinary interests to be involved with farm-to-table cooking (lunch) for the Nature and Nurture community which will be about 7 people this year. This is our second year at the farm and there is much to accomplish. We do not have sleeping quarters for interns, but we can discuss (on a case by case basis) options for interns who may want to sleep in a tent and share our bathroom and kitchen facilities.
We offer lunch, produce, education, and a stipend dependent on experience and performance. The growing season is from April through November; however we have some flexibility in this area. Preference will be given to interns who can commit to the whole season. Interns who are involved in seeds will need to commit through October (seeds are cleaned in August, September, and October).
This internship is experiential and will focus on hands-on application of sustainable agriculture principles and practices. Erica and Mike are both teachers and are committed to the education of interns. Interns who have a special interest may do additional projects in the following areas:
Growing and marketing of produce
Seed growing, harvesting, and cleaning
Shiitake mushroom growing
Organic invasive species control
Lunch is provided at the farm so we can eat together. There will be a rotating cooking schedule and interns are expected to cook which provides farm-to-table cooking opportunities. Cooks will prepare the meal and clean up right after we eat including washing and drying cooking dishes/pans right after we eat, wiping tables, counters, and stove area, and sweeping floors. The rest of us pitch in to clean their own dishes, clear the table, put the food away, and minimize impact on the inside of the house.
All farm workers are REQUIRED to have lunch together as a community in order to share life, answer questions about the day’s events, and discuss the direction for the rest of the day.
We have a 3 bedroom farmhouse. The common areas in the main farmhouse are the kitchen, the dining room, the back bathroom, and the back porch which are shared with Erica and Mike. The rest of the house is Erica and Mike’s private space. We don’t wear shoes in the house and we must be vigilant to keep the floor clean. Everyone should clean up after themselves in the common areas and put their personal items away.
We have a washing machine, a dryer, clotheslines, and detergent available for personal use, as needed.
Also, we do not allow smoking of any kind or burning of candles, incense, lanterns, etc. in any buildings on the farm and also in any areas where food/produce is being handled. Tobacco smoke in the greenhouse or in the fields is strictly prohibited due to tobacco mosaic virus (tobacco smoke contains a virus that can infect tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes) Abuse of drugs and alcohol will not be tolerated!
This internship is a work-learning experience, so you can work after required hours if you want. Minimally we ask that our interns make a commitment of 3 days per week (days of the week to be agreed upon and will generally stay the same) and work 9am -5:30 pm on their scheduled days. If you miss a day we expect you to make it up on a different day. We allow ½ a day off per month for sick/missed/vacation days and they are cumulative. We may begin earlier during the heat of the season. Lunch is around 11:30 and is a ½ hour long. Occasionally, you will be expected to work later than 5:30 if there is an unfinished project, if a frost is coming or there are any pressing farm emergencies. It is generally understood that workers might need short (10 or 15 min.) water/snack breaks in the morning or afternoon. If it’s really hot out, we might end the day early and go swimming at any of a number of local lakes. Our farm has a hiking trail and you are welcome to hike the land after work.
REQUIRED Work Parties/Open Houses
We will have various events including volunteer work parties, tours, workshops, social events, and a fall harvest party. It is expected that interns will help out before, during, and after events. We will let you know as these events are scheduled.
Our friends/customers might come with or without their children to play in the backyard, or just walk about the farm and explore. We ask that you greet them if we are not around to host and make sure they are content, safe, and don’t do things that make extra work for us. We expect you to help be our eyes and ears on the farm.
The stipend is based on experience, performance, and how things go for us during the season. Our stipend starts at $200 for the first month (training, orientation, getting to know routines, etc.). This is a trial month. If everything is working well for you and for us by the end of the month, then we expect you to stay until the end of your committed time period. We are counting on you to live up to your commitment. If you need to end your internship with us for reasons beyond your control, WE NEED AT LEAST 2 WEEKS NOTICE ahead of time (more notice is preferred). Monthly stipends based on a 3 day work week will be $250-300 or more. Your stipend amount depends on a lot of factors mentioned above, but especially upon performance (initiative, strong work ethic, consistent work focus, troubleshooting problems, responsible behavior, etc.). Stipends are disbursed on the first day of the month following the month worked.
This is our second year with interns so it will continue be a learning experience for all of us. We will provide a simple lunch, toilet paper, first aid supplies, water, and a reasonable share of produce from the farm to take home when there is surplus. If you want something really exotic for lunch that we don’t have, you may need to buy it yourself. We ask that our interns/farm crew supply your own personal hygiene products (sunscreen, bug repellent, etc) and use your own calling card or cell phone for outgoing long distance calls.
rain coat and pants
work boots, hiking boots, or rubber boots (no bare feet during work time)
cell phone or calling card for long distance phone calls
warm clothing (polar fleece, wool, polypropylene etc.) for Fall & Spring Work
long underwear for Fall & Spring Work
Optional Items (Extras are on the Farm)
favorite cookbooks or recipes
slippers for inside the house