Practical Farmers of Iowa is once again working with experienced farmers across the state to offer aspiring farmers on-farm job opportunities through the Labor4Learning program.
For the 2018 season, 14 experienced farmers from around the state have signed on to hire an employee through the program and to provide additional training on topics critical to successfully running a farm business.
Having sufficient on-farm work experience is vital to the success of new farmers just starting on their own. Most on-farm employment opportunities, however, are limited in scope and don’t expose employees to the full range of skills needed to be successful.
Now entering its sixth year, Practical Farmers’ Labor4Learning program helps fill this need by connecting aspiring farmers seeking paid on-farm training with experienced farmers looking for eager employees. In addition to their normal job responsibilities, those in the program receive training on topics such as record-keeping, marketing and other skills important for running a farm business. At the start of employment, the trainer and trainee agree on a set of learning outcomes to address during the course of employment, beyond the normal job-related work activities.
The participating farms are located across Iowa and represent a wide variety of enterprises and production practices, including row crops; small grains; multiple species of livestock; fruits and vegetables; and non-traditional crops, such as sweet corn, maple syrup, chestnuts and more. Half of the trainer farms are certified organic. Each Labor4Learning trainer farm was approved by a committee of Practical Farmers of Iowa members to serve as qualified teachers.
A list of local participating farms is included below, along with their locations and farm enterprises, and complete job descriptions and program details can be found at practicalfarmers.org/labor4learning.
To qualify as a trainee, applicants must have a strong desire to learn, apply to and be hired by a trainer farm and be or become a member of Practical Farmers of Iowa.
“We are a part of PFI’s Labor4Learning program, both to advance our farm business and to help prepare an aspiring farmer to light out on her or his own in the future,” says Margaret Smith of Ash Grove Farm. She and her husband, Doug Alert, raise organic row crops, small grains and livestock on their farm near Hampton. “We really enjoy the cross-fertilization of ideas generated by discussions with our energetic employees.”
2018 Labor4Learning Trainer Farms in the local area
• Dean Henry – Berry Patch Farm – Story County (Nevada) – Apples, berries, cherries, produce
• Mike Salama – Salama Greenhouse – Boone County (Boone) – Greenhouse production of ornamentals and vegetables
• John C. and Sarah Gilbert – Gibralter Farms – Hardin County (Iowa Falls) – Dairy, farrow-to-finish hogs, corn, beans, small grains, hay