We've been showing you the work that goes into running a farm through the main growing season. As we move into the height of the summer season, I am astounded by the dedication, hard work, and exuberance of the young women and men who have chosen to work a season on the farm: the apprentices!
Meet this year’s crew below, and learn more about what farm apprenticeship is.
A Tradition of Farm Apprenticeship
The farm's owners, Katie and Amanda, themselves began their career farming as apprentices at Quail Hill Farm, a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm owned and operated by the Peconic Land Trust. Under the guidance of Quail Hill’s distinguished head farmer (and poet) Scott Chaskey, they learned the basics of farm operations and found a life-long passion.
→ Hear from Scott, Amanda & Katie in the film Growing Farmers
Today, Katie and Amanda are sharing what they’ve learned with a new crop of young people – giving an outlet for curiosity and in the process developing deeper connections with the land and the food we eat.
What Does an Apprentice Do?
Amanda and Katie described the Apprenticeship Program at Amber Waves Farm:
Amber Waves Farm apprentices spend a season at the farm learning how to grow food organically and sustainably by working hands-on in all areas of the farm’s activities. Apprentices join the farm crew in early spring and stay through the fall, a work period that provides the ability to experience the course of an entire farming season. On a daily basis they coordinate with head farmers about day-to-day farm operations, from field work to farmers’ market preparations and hosting community events.
In the field, apprentices master technical skills associated with plant propagation, greenhouse production, crop rotations and soil health, harvesting, and tractor work. Additionally, after the harvest, apprentices are actively involved in community outreach and education by organizing weekly on-farm CSA pick-ups, assisting with school field trips and community workshops, representing the farm at the local farmers markets, and distributing food in our community to local restaurants and food pantries.
By participating in the wide variety of daily activities and responsibilities at the farm apprentices not only gain hands-on experience in the field, but also develop an in-depth understanding of the daily business management of the farm, including marketing, bookkeeping, and setting budgets.
The farm is located within a few miles of many other small organic farming operations, so there is ample opportunity for apprentices to visit, explore, and network with other farming operations that use different systems and equipment in addition to daily one-on-one instruction they receive at Amber Waves.
Apprentices have the opportunity to participate in additional enrichment programs, including regional farming workshops, conferences, and field days that enhance their overall farming experience. Apprentices are provided a weekly stipend along with on-farm housing, attendance at off-farm agricultural enrichment programs, and access to unlimited farm produce as a part of their compensation.
Meet the 2014 Amber Waves Farm Apprentices
- Hometown: Scarsdale, NY
- Education: Earned a degree in International Agriculture at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
- How she found her way to Amber Waves: Abby is returning for her second season at Amber Waves Farm, which she found through the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (visit www.nofa.org for an amazing database of farm apprentice opportunities). She loved her experience with Katie and Amanda and thinks they are part of a great farming community. She really wanted to farm and get real world experience not just from the classroom perspective.
- Does she see farming in her future? Yes! Abby plans on pursuing agriculture as a career after she finishes her Peace Corps service in Senegal, which she’ll begin in September of this year.
- What she likes the most: The CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) programs organized by the Amagansett Food Institute. Abby loves the learning environment at Amber Waves – where she can ask about anything!
- Favorite thing to eat from the farm: Russian kale (sautéed or raw in salads)
- Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
- Education: Earned a degree in Environmental Studies, with a focus on food systems and community development, at Allegheny College, Meadville, PA
- How she found her way to Amber Waves Farm: Good Food Jobs and word of mouth from a friend. This is the second season Adrienne has signed on as a farm apprentice – last year she worked at a new farm in the Hudson Valley; and this time around was looking to work at a more established farm. Katie and Amanda’s energy drew her to Amber Waves.
- Does she see farming in her future: Maybe. But, she definitely sees herself working with food.
- What she likes the most: Everything. Every day is fun and full of learning – she didn’t even mind working on her birthday.
- Favorite thing to eat from the farm: Eggplant (sautéed with garlic and basil)
- Hometown: Locust Valley, NY
- Education: Earned a degree in History at Clemson University, South Carolina
- How he found his way to Amber Waves Farm: Through a Google search. Brenden felt the apprenticeship was an opportunity to do something a bit unusual, unexpected – and gave it a try after working for shorter periods at two other farms after graduating from college
- Does he see farming in his future: Maybe
- What he likes the most: Learning from Katie and Amanda. He said they are very transparent and honest people, which he appreciates the most.
- Favorite thing to eat from the farm: Tomatoes (sliced raw)
- Hometown(s): Chevy Chase, MD & Washington, DC
- Education: Studied Literary Studies/World Literature at Middlebury College, VT
- How he found his way to Amber Waves Farm: Ben’s family has a house in Montauk and was looking for an apprentice opportunity with one of the local farms in Amagansett – and came across the listing for Amber Waves. Good interviews with Katie Amanda and his love of eating local foods brought them together.
- Does he see farming in his future: Yes in the near term, but for the long term he’s still deciding.
- What he likes the most: Ben is really enjoying learning about the business side of farming. Also, when shareholders come to the farm to pick up their CSA boxes it’s a great reminder of what he is there for. He feels appreciated.
- Favorite thing to eat from the farm: Eggs (in an omelet with kale for any and every meal of the day)
Laura Rose Dailey
- Hometown: Saratoga Springs, NY
- Education: Earned a degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
- How she found her way to Amber Waves Farm: Good Food Jobs. She was looking for an opportunity to learn how to grow food — she wants to work all ends of the industry, from farming to restaurant service.
- Does she see farming in her future: Probably. Laura Rose likes working outside, and could see working either at a large scale farms or smaller gardens.
- What she likes the most: The people she’s meeting, what she is learning, being outside, providing good food to the community.
- Favorite thing to eat from the farm: Basil (in everything, even yogurt!)
- Hometown: St. Louis, MO
- Education: Earned a degree in Latin American Studies and International Affairs at Georgetown University, Washington, DC
- How he found his way to Amber Waves Farm: A friend, who is a CSA member, put Mark in touch with Katie and Amanda. Mark was interested in working as a farmer – his mother is a gardener and he’s volunteered with community gardens in D.C., as well as be involved with gardening groups in Georgetown.
- Does he see farming in his future: Hard to say
- What he likes the most: the approach Katie and Amanda take with organic farming and their approach to make the farm available to everyone – not just the wealthy – with the educational program and donations to the local food pantry. Mark also really enjoys harvesting in the fields.
- Favorite thing to eat from the farm: Raspberries (and loves picking them as much as eating them).
A New Generation on the Farm is a season-long exploration of the work at Amber Waves Farm, and it is a partnership between The Kitchn, photographer Mallory Samson, and the Peconic Land Trust. Founded in 1983, the Peconic Land Trust conserves Long Island’s working farms, natural lands, and heritage. This is the first in a series about first generation farmers the Trust is working with to ensure that protected farmland is used for farming on Long Island’s East End.
(Image credits: Mallory Samson)