Swallowtail Farm is a 26-acre magical little hideaway tucked into the northwest corner of the Portland metro urban growth boundary. We are a five minute drive from Hwy 26, 25 minutes from downtown Portland, 50 minutes from the Coast, and a 10-minute bike ride from downtown Hillsboro and the MAX blue line. Owned by Swallowtail Waldorf School since 2004, the property is home to abundant wildlife with 13 acres in riparian margin bordered by McKay Creek on three sides. There are 12 acres of wet prairie/pasture and agricultural land, one acre of physical structures, a parking area, an orchard, herbs, flowers, and permanent veggie garden beds. The farm is a hub of communal activity sharing in the abundance of nature, beauty, education, and food. We welcome participants of all skill levels and all ages in the exploration of biodynamic agricultural practices.
This year's production off the farm will be a 35 member School Year CSA share ( 33 weeks from September 2018-June 2019), 10 hogs, 3 steer, 5 sheep, and whatever wethers we end up with from the goats, all on pasture. We have three does that we milk for primarily farm use, with a small amount to sell. We preserve and dry all the fruit we can from our trees, shrubs, and cane fruit, to add extra offerings in the CSA, and eat ourselves. We keep a small flock of ducks for farm eggs, and have hives for honey. We also run a weekly-ish market table for 25 weeks at Swallowtail School's main campus from September through June.
Striving for primarily hand work in the permanent gardens, and minimal mechanized work using a BCS in the outer fields, we also have two mini donkeys that we are slowly working towards light cultivation and pack work in the fields. We prefer a scythe over a weed eater, but have both. We walk behind our tractor rather than sit on it, and would love for the donkeys to be a little more useful at carrying loads. In the meantime, we try to use handcarts over the truck to move heavy stuff around. Aside from food, our animals are an integral part of a large scale restoration project we are working on with Clean Water Services, and play a key role in our nutrient cycling and fertility management systems on the farm.
Then there's the rest of life, outside farming! We like to dance, play music, be goofy, laugh and cry, find some shade by a creek when it's hot, and a cold beverage in the hammock after a hard day's work feels good.
TRAINING SCHEDULE & SEASONAL FLOW
April comes, and we are in the tail end of our School Year CSA with lots of greens cycling off the farm. Mondays and Tuesdays are generally spent in the field, Wednesday and Thursday are our harvest and Market days, and Friday is generally a day of fencing, infrastructure, and regrouping... But! We live and work with Nature! So, we are always consciously trying to blend the rhythms of the earth with that of a modern-day American life, and stay joyfully open to whatever the land is asking of us. April also sees our does in milk, the sheep, hogs, and, steer out on pasture, and our spuds and alliums planted for the following season's production.
May is much the same with the addition of a great children’s presence as the sun comes out and we once again venture out into green trees and warm spring air. The decision to be involved with school groups is something we leave up to the individual, and is only asked if it speaks to them. Every day holds a healthy animal care rhythm followed by whatever tasks are necessary in the gardens.
June brings a small out breath and regrouping consisting of a few plantings, irrigation prep, and overall clean up and organization for the months to come.
July hits with a hot dry bang and daily bed prep, planting in the prop house and field, and keeping everything watered.
August holds much the same as July. Tending to the animals, cultivation/bed prep, planting, weeding, and irrigation.
September sees the weekly Wednesday/Thursday Harvest and Market rhythm reinstated, school is back in session so the children reappear, and many of our animals are thanked for their service, then tucked into the freezer.
We continue the same rhythm through October. Then batten down the hatches in November with Caterpillar tunnels, low tunnels, floating row cover, and hope. By this time we have enough crops up out of the ground and in storage, or in the ground and protected from the harshest elements, to last us till late February, when our planting calendar begins again.
It is also in the beginning of November that farmer Noah will reluctantly say goodbye to those amazing helpers who have loved and cared for the land alongside him from the Spring till the fall. Blessings on the earth, and the hands that tend it.
Skills potentially learned, but not limited to:
- All aspects of French intensive style market garden management with a focus on fall and winter production.
- All aspects of integrated animal husbandry using movable electric fencing on a high rotation rate.
- A beginning foundation in the many living aspects of biodynamic agricultural practices
- The many joys of living life on a farm, often with 3-4 kids in tow if that suits you, or in the periphery if not.
I am a firm believer in teachable moments. Especially in the experiential-based learning environment of a farm. In a past life I was an Outward Bound instructor for adjudicated youth. We did 45-day canoe trips in the Florida everglades and a few other waterways. The basic model was simple. First, lead by example, then co-create and work together, then hand over leadership and provide suggestions were deemed fit. The succession through these stages is of course delegated by the individual and their ability to display a proficiency in any given task. I have also built up an extensive library over the years that I will always provide full access to, and use as a tool to fortify anything we are working with at the time.
Some weeks will be 30 hours, some 50, with no more than 40 on average. Two days a week with no responsibility on the farm is a goal for all interns, with the occasional animal feeding in the morning and evening on a 6th day. Time for extended trips away from the farm are open, but preferably will be planned ahead at the beginning of the season.
First and foremost, the desire to truly be a farmer is a must, and preferably an all-encompassing one, not solely focused on animal husbandry, produce, or perennials.
Flexible, comfortable in adverse environmental conditions, physically strong (specifically a good back), a good communicator and calm, kid friendly, and community-oriented. The hourly and weekly schedules will be driven both by the farm's needs and the needs of the farm team; adaptability to a variable workload will be crucial for a healthy fit.
The intern should be able to advocate for his or her own interests and needs, but to balance those with the demands of the farm, colleagues, and broader community.
A visit would be preferable, but not absolutely necessary if there is enough correspondence prior. The intern will be required to sign a contract and submit a background check.
Room and board is included in the internship package. There is a furnished 24 ft yurt out the back of the Farmhouse. Kitchen and bath is shared inside the farmhouse.
Each day, one member of the farm crew will take time out to prepare lunch, clean the kitchen, and tidy the common areas. Wednesday and Thursday dinners are communal meals, and as such, a cooperative prep and clean up feels the best. The farm family eats meat but can accommodate vegan or vegetarian diets. Breakfast and all other meals are up to the intern, although all staples, vegetables, and animal products will be available for meals. Participation in a monthly deep-clean of the common living spaces will also be expected.
Farmer Noah has three children that live on the farm half time. They are a rowdy bunch full of beautiful life, ages 7, 9, and 11. Just as is the case with the animals and plants that we tend on the farm, The Marquis Three are our future, and deserve the same integrated approach in terms of nurturing love and care.
The stipend will be discussed during the interview process.