Sweet Water Farm is located on 18 forested, sloping acres in Hugo, Oregon about 15 minutes to both the town of Grants Pass and the Rogue River. Sam and Denise manage the farm tasks with their son and daughter, Ari and Ivory, tagging along. A few dogs and a couple cats round out the domestic creatures. There are a handful of chickens pecking away and plans to raise a pair of pigs this upcoming season. Sam and Denise love and appreciate the life farming has given them and are excited to share what they have learned in 14 years of growing food and working towards efficient, holistic land management.
The farm cultivates a little less than an acre of land and although not certified Organic, use methods nearly identical, applying certified Organic fertilizers, composts, and amendments. The site is sloping and very wet from late fall to late spring which has led them to grow in 75 foot permanent raised beds and rely on the smaller BCS walking tractor for bed preparation. They also use tarps for preserving clean beds and the broad fork for working the soil deeply and have been moving towards more use of the power harrow in place of rototilling and annual applications of compost, finding success in minimal tillage methods popularized in part by J.M. Fortier in Montreal, Canada. Sam and Denise also lease a half acre of flat land with 200 foot beds, where they use a small four wheel tractor for bed prep and grow potatoes, onions, and winter squash. They also have a small orchard of fruit trees and berries, as well as a perennial asparagus patch.
Sweet Water grows produce and flowers for the Grants Pass Growers Market, as well as a few local restaurants and stores. They aim to continue delivering an exceptional product to the community and are looking forward to teaching a single intern, possibly a couple, all of the steps necessary to achieving this.
Interns will be integral to the success of Sweet Water Farm during the 2019 farming season. Interns will start slowly, learning the layout of the land and the overall plan and design for the year. Sam and Denise will work with interns to teach various jobs, provide feedback, and help with the mastery of tasks. As skills are developed, interns will work more independently. Spring will start with tasks such as making soil blocks and seeding upcoming crops, mowing and string trimming grass. Bed preparation, transplanting, and weeding using a variety of methods will soon become weekly tasks. Trellising of intense greenhouse crops of tomatoes and cucumbers will also be taught. Around late May, markets will begin as harvesting, processing, and packing of produce become a task every Friday and Saturday. Safe and efficient use of the BCS tractor as well as the various implements for mowing and soil preparation will be taught if the intern is interested. Time will be set aside for check-ins to discuss successes, challenges, needs, or disagreements. Interns will be regarded as important members of Sweet Water Farm and valued for their input, observations, and insights.
Expectations and Training Schedule
Interns will be expected to work 35 hours a week, split into five 7-hour days, with two days off per week. Tasks may be physically challenging and repetitive at times, but interns will not be asked to do anything Sam and Denise have not done countless times each year. Sam and Denise will work with interns to learn body positioning and efficiency which will help to grow food and become physically strong at the same time!
In exchange for their power and energy Sweet Water will provide interns with a small cabin with electricity, kitchen, shower, and composting toilet. They will also provide basic, healthy staples (such as beans, rice, oatmeal, peanut butter, bread, and some meat, milk, eggs, butter, and cheese or vegetarian/vegan versions) as well as produce from the garden. Interns will mainly cook for themselves, although there will be occasional group meals. A stipend will be paid at the end of each month. Times to access laundry facilities, the home computer/internet, and swimming pool at the main house will be scheduled. Details of stipend package, room, and board will be discussed during the interview process.
No experience is required, as long as interns are open to engaging in all the tasks a farmer does including hard work and repetitive motions. Attention to detail and willingness to listen to feedback are important, as well as an overall positive attitude and excitement to learn!