Update on 12/11/17
We will not be offering an internship program for 2018 – Rather we are shifting to having an employee based farm crew.
After offering an internship program since 1998 (20 years) we have seen the landscape of land access, the cost of farming, the incredible student loan debt that most millennials carry and the intention of young people who have been interested in our program shift significantly. When we started working with interns in the late 90’s the typical person was in their 20’s and interested in gaining skills and mentorship with the goal of buying land, starting a family and beginning their own farm business. I am deeply grateful for many amazing individuals who have poured their heart and soul into the plants, animals, soil and seed here on our farm over the years. And, the time has come to change our approach. Read on – if you can take some somewhat salty perspective (there is a preponderance of planets in Capricorn and Scorpio currently – just sayin’…)
Another aspect of this evolution is that the more I focus upon making the on-farm Seed company successful as a business it detracts from the time I can devote to quality time with farm interns. In this regard I recognize ways in which I have fallen short in terms of meeting interns’ expectations regarding one-on-one time, as I try and juggle farm, family and business.
In the last number of years I have observed a confluence of the following factors contribute to the basic goal changing:
* the price of land increasing dramatically and difficulty securing financing due to poor decisions by many Baby Boomers around debt, credit, balloon economies and overall lack of long range vision
* higher levels of student loan debt and the lack of opportunities that a college degree presents
* over saturation of the small scale fresh vegetable produce farm niche (seems like there are so many carbon copy farms that follow Elliot Coleman’s (and Johnny’s) recipie for a market garden to a “T” – it’s a good one, but not the only one, nor should it be done everywhere.
* Increased access to tools, tips, techniques for small scale farming available on-line (farmhack.org, etc..)
* Disillusionment with the dominant paradigm (Trump, need I say more?)
* An attitude of entitlement that seems to predominate among middle class suburban youth (the primary demographic of young farm interns) – quite possibly influenced by many people working in the cannabis trimming black market world for years and a higher dollar return per hour than would otherwise be possible on most farms. Perhaps the internet and its contribution to an instant gratification mindset.
I hesitate in writing this, however – I want to be honest able the difficult path that farming is. In 2016 the net income for US farmers was -$1,700 – yes negative. Most farms work because someone has an off-farm job. From where I sit the only way to make it farming is to have a strong constitution, deep faith in your vision, a clear plan, be vertically integrated, have family land and/or family financing. Perhaps collaborative approaches may be successful. In my experience, my farm has managed to persist and thrive is due to pouring all my time, money and creativity into creating a vertically integrated model wherein we grow seeds, breed new varieties and distribute retail locally and on the web. Having the farm identity through Siskiyou Seeds is crucial.
Personally I feel hopeful about the future, and I know that it will be difficult. Despite the interest in local food and farmer’s markets, most Americans do not understand the value of food, nor are they willing to pay prices that would enable farmers and farm workers to earn a living wage. I read a story of a woman who raised her CSA share price in the midwest in order to pay herself and her workers a living wage ($15/hour for that area – barely above poverty line), and 70% of her shareholders did NOT renew. For myself I see that, perhaps the future lie in “Garden Agriculture”, a term coined by Permaculture co-founder David Holmgren to describe small, scale, bio-intensive gardens that have the goal of food production. Siskiyou Seeds is devoted to supporting this model. Large farms and all of their petrol use and exposed soil are un-sustainable, we need new re-generative models.
One thing that I share with young people who are interested in the path of land-stewardship, is to acquire skills such as horticulture, botany, grafting, nursery propagation, orchard care, animal husbandry, etc… Eventually the landed elite (the baby boomers who were able to afford to get a job, a new car, start a family right out of college without excessive debt) will need skilled land stewards to manage their land. The new serfdom? I see so many folks leaving the corporate rat race after 30-40 years to finally pursue their dream of being on land, yet typically their motivation and/or bodies have slowed down and require some skilled help to do the hard work of farming/ranching.
Also – it is worth noting that my 2 boys are now 11 & 15 and I am wanting to focus more of my mentorship energy upon helping them mature as men and developing valuable skills for life.
Perhaps we will evolve and recover our lost Agrarian identity through sharing more, believing in one another and acting as if the future really mattered. I am trying, how about you?
Many blessings to each of you,
happy to receive feedback on this thread at firstname.lastname@example.org
FULL FOR THIS SEASON
How are you striving to make this planet more kind, compassionate & ecologically harmonious for all beings?
Really? That’s Great!
If you can’t conjure an enthusiastic response, perhaps we can help. We have been offering residential apprenticeships since 1998 highlighting earth skills such as:
• natural farming (seeds, annuals, orchards, sheep, goats, poultry, more)
• homesteading (food preservation, forestry, wool crafts, woodcraft, repair skills)
• Permaculture (food forests, keyline, ponds, swales, polycultures, mapping, patterns)
• Biodynamic agriculture / Anthroposophy
• Rotational Grazing with sheep.goats, pigs and poultry
• Natural History (Botany, geology, wilderness hikes, Traditional Ecological Wisdom, wild fungi)
• Primitive Skills (basketry, butchering, cordage, hide tanning, friction fire, archery)
• Natural Building (Timber framing with poles, cob, strawbale, rocket stoves, more)
• Activism (Restricting GMOs, protecting ancient forests and clean water, being good community)
• Ceremony (honoring the unseen, talking & heart circles, rites of passage)
• Community Living (consensus decision making, active listening, shared responsibility)
• Celebration ( music, fire side stories, feasts, dancing, star gazing and more!)
Seven Seeds Farm, under the leadership of Don Tipping, has established itself as a successful working model of an integrated Permaculture farm.
Our 2017 Apprenticeship opportunity is as follows:
We have two different programs:
• A full season residential work study (March through October)
Application here: 2017 Intern Application
The opportunity to Live, Thrive, Work and Play here at Seven Seeds Farm from March – November. You will contribute an open mind and heart and willingness to participate fully in all farm/homestead tasks (enthusiastically!) 4 days per week. In exchange you will receive:
• Fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, goat milk, eggs, herbs, clean air, pure water, village community
• All Instruction – including the spring Seed Academy course, weekend Permaculture intensives.
• One on one mentoring with Don Tipping (see Bio below), and other farm facillitators
• Field trips to the ocean for seaweed gathering, herbal wildcrafting, natural history/botany hikes, ceremony, festive outings/regional gatherings…we live on the edge of a 200,000 acre ancient forest wild lands.
• Simple Rustic Housing in the tree house, converted school buses (all of which have running water, wood stove and propane stove. The two quaint and artistically compelling buses have electricity too. The tree house has a year round stream flowing almost underneath it!)
• Access to our community barn kitchen and bath house
• Access to our extensive farm library, wifi, land line (we do have cell reception too), laundry room
* A rigorous reading/study list which includes group reading of critical works collectively, with weekly fire circle discussion, in the spirit of John Seed and the council of all beings.
• Inclusion within the wider Williams community that includes hikes, open mic, singing circles, sweats, ceremony, dances, yoga, heart centered gatherings and more.
• A priceless doorway into a world of possibilities that will likely help to establish your life path in alignment with Earth Skills, community and spirit.
What is Expected of You?:
This is an opportunity to embark on a journey of becoming a person of place and re-skilling yourself in order to be relevant and useful where ever you are. If you are just beginning on your path of earth-based living we will help to open many doors towards self discovery and valuable skills and self mastery. You will work with the farm community four days per week (Monday-Thursday) with Friday through Sunday as time for yourself, developing connections, self directed projects, adventures and such.
Applicants need to be enthusiastic about and dedicated to learning, hard working, solution-oriented, and dedicated to functional communication. It is helpful if applicants have some experience in some aspects of the work on the eco-homestead, but it is not required.
We will circle once per week for a heart circle to to help maintain a good feeling amongst us all. You will help with farm tasks, animal chores, homestead maintenance, and event preparation. Some jobs will be challenging and not very glamorous (welcome to the natural world!). A good attitude, humilty and patience go a long way for all of us.
We will work together to help maintain our common spaces as clean, organized, welcoming places for all. Simple attention to the little details like this are quite helpful at averting challenging situations. We ask that you abstain from any substances that may impair performance during work/learning time. Also, smoking shall not take place in public areas. We like to share lunch on the days that we work together, so that we ask that you cook lunch 1 day/week for oneself and others with garden food, basic bulk communal. We order bulk foods that you will have access to, you will provide your own personal ingredients.
Please consider that the combined value of the classes, workshops, mentorship and housing is well over $5,000 and that many former apprentices here have gone on to successful paths in life.
Download our PDF application that has more information and gives a chance to learn about you.
Don Tipping has been offering hands on, practical workshops at Seven Seeds Farm since 1997. We are a small, organic family farm in the Siskiyou Mountains of SW Oregon, situated at 2,000 feet elevation on a 7,000 tall forested mountain with rushing spring fed creeks flowing through the land and nestled among old growth forests.
Here we produce fruits, vegetables, seeds, herbs, wool, eggs, and lamb. The farm has been designed to function as a self-contained, life regenerating organism with waste products being recycled and feeding other elements of the system. Seven Seeds helps to mentor new farmers through internships and workshops. We have produced certified organic vegetable, flower and herb seeds for over a dozen national scale seed companies. Seven Seeds has also been active in USDA Western SARE, Organic Seed Alliance and other seed initiatives to advance the development of open pollinated organic seeds. In 2009 we began Siskiyou Seeds, a bioregional organic seed company operated from the home farm. Don helped to found the Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative which manages a 300 share CSA, commercial seed growing, an equipment co-op and internship curriculum among 12 cooperating farms. He also co-founded the Family Farmers Seed Cooperative, a seed grower, marketing and distribution cooperative comprised of 10 western organic farms.
Don helps people focus upon helping people build their skill sets in sustainable life skills such as permaculture, biodynamics, organic gardening, eco-forestry, seed saving and other traditional arts that help to build regenerative culture. He has co taught with a wide group of widely respected people in the both the seed & Permacukture movement including: Tom Ward, Larry Korn, Michael “Skeeter” Pilarski, Bill McDorman, Dennis Martinez, John Navazio, Frank Morton, Harald Hoven, Jude Hobbs, Becky Bee, Rowen White and more.