Farmer Mentor Program
The Cultivating Success™ on-farm internship program allows students to work one-on-one with an experienced Farmer Mentor. Participants receive valuable hands-on experience in all aspects of production and marketing over the course of the farming season.
Washington State University offers Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for internships under Cultivating Success Farmer Mentors, although it may be necessary to pay a small fee. Receiving academic credit for an on-farm internship would require enrollment at an academic institution. Please note that each Farmer Mentor approaches internships in their own way. The program offerings, application process, and any costs will vary from farm to farm.
Farmer Mentors receive on-going assistance with curricula development and implementation from WSU staff. If you are interested in becoming a Cultivating Success Farmer Mentor, please visit our Farmer Mentor Toolkit page.
If you are interested in interning or mentoring in Jefferson County, make sure to check out the FIELD program, which pairs program participants with a mentor who provides the intern with comprehensive instruction in the operations of their farm. Farm-based learning is supplemented by weekly intensive workshops in such diverse subject areas as humane animal slaughter, water law, farm construction, cider production and marketing. FIELD interns, mentors, and Jefferson County WSU staff collaborate to create individual learning plans that guide each student through their course of study and a culminating independent project. Interns may complete up to three FIELD semesters for academic credit or CEUs.
Washington State Farmer Mentors
Meet Krista Conner of Seattle Bee Works in Seattle, WA
This business manages beehives and produces honey. Visit www.seattlebeeworks.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founder Krista Conner began beekeeping in 2007 with just two beehives stationed in a friend’s backyard. Now, Seattle Bee Works’ beehives are located across the city of Seattle and our bees are able to forage on a bounty of plants and flowers, resulting in our West Seattle Honey brand of honey. Urban bees need beekeepers though- so if you are seeking a sweet way to learn about beekeeping (beyond the books!) and want to gain hands-on skills, then consider an internship with Seattle Bee Works.
Instrumental to Krista’s success and growth as a beekeeper has been the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, where she is in her second term as President of the non-profit organization. In addition, Krista is a certified Journeyman Beekeeper through the Washington State Beekeepers Association.
- Seattle Bee Works offers a year-long internship for up and coming beekeepers
- Interns receive instruction both hive-side and in group workshops, gaining an understanding of hive management strategies
- Beekeepers with more experience develop through beekeeping projects or research to advance their learning about bees and beekeeping
- Visit www.seattlebeeworks.com/bees/ to read testimonials from previous interns.
Meet Holly and Valerie Foster of Zestful Gardens in Tacoma, WA
This farm produces chicken, turkey, pork, vegetables, and berries. Visit www.zestfulgardens.org or contact email@example.com.
Zestful Gardens is located 5 miles from downtown Tacoma along the Puyallup River just outside the town of Puyallup. Holly Foster and her mother Valerie farm 35 acres of Puyallup fine sandy loam soil within the 500 year floodway of Clear Creek. We tend about 10 acres in vegetables, 4 acres of woodland, 2 acres in Orchard, and 19 acres in rotating cover crops and pasture. We are committed to sustainable agriculture practices that protect the land and human resources, build biological
diversity, and produce quality food for regional markets. Our farm is certified organic by Washington State Department of Agriculture.
We sell our produce through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), farmers markets, and other local outlets. We encourage community building and offer many gatherings on the farm for CSA members. We grow a wide variety of annual vegetables, some perennial vegetables, small fruits, chicken, pork, & turkey.
We mentor and offer an internship because we want to share the experience of farming with those considering agriculture as a livelihood. Interns will be involved in most aspects of production and marketing. We will provide instruction in a wide variety of practices employed on the farm and discuss the objectives we seek to achieve through them. We will talk about our goals for the farm and about the decision making process. We will try to give interested Interns exposure to the fundamental elements of crop planning, budgeting, and business planning.
Meet Marilyn Holt of Abundantly Green Farm in Poulsbo, WA
This farm produces vegetables, fruit, eggs, beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. Visit www.abundantlygreen.com or email Marilyn Holt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abundantly Green is a certified organic family farm on 60 picturesque acres that has been in Marilyn’s family since 1892, and in production even longer. It includes a six-acre market garden, gently rolling pastures, and 23 acres of second growth forest. A creek meanders through the farm and apple and pear trees from the original homesteader’s orchard still stand.
Abundantly Green raises fresh produce, fryers, beef, pigs, and layer chickens and ducks. These products are sold through the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program, its farm store, farmers markets, and also stores and restaurants. The farm is committed to organic and sustainable agricultural practices and is working towards becoming an integrated sustainable farming operation.
Interns at Abundantly Green engage fully in all aspects of the farm including poultry processing. As the farm produces food year-round, interns are welcome all year. On-site accommodation is possible. Please contact the farm for details about room and board options and limitations.
Meet Brad Jaeckel of the WSU Organic Farm in Pullman, WA
This farm grows fruit, vegetables, and herbs. Visit css.wsu.edu/organicfarm or contact email@example.com or 509-335-3475.
The 3 acre Organic Farm is located inside the 50 acre WSU Tukey Horticultural Orchard and is 1.5 miles from the main Pullman campus. The Organic Farm operates through the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences while the orchard is run by the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. The Organic Farm was first certified organic in 2004 and remains certified by the Washington State Department of Agriculture. In 2006, WSU approved the first organic agriculture major in the nation as part of its new Food Systems degree program.
The Organic Farm is committed to education, research, and extension. As a teaching farm the primary goal is to pass on the skills necessary to grow organic fruits and vegetables in an intensive small-scale environment. The farm is available to the WSU scientific community to conduct organic research projects. In addition, the farm strives to provide fresh produce to local food banks and non-profits.
Farm structures include a small tool shed, a 24’x24′ harvest shed/shade structure, two 20’x48′ hoophouses, a vermiculture bin, a large area for composting, and an educational soil pit. As well as growing 30+ annual crops the farm is also home to a culinary herb garden, medicinal herb garden, asparagus, Italian plums, rhubarb, and raspberries. Irrigation water is supplied by WSU and an efficient drip system is utilized for almost all crops. Currently the farm enjoys a 25 week harvest season extending from mid-May to the end of October with approximately 120 frost free days. The farm manager/instructor and assistant manager are the only paid employees with the remainder of labor coming from students and volunteers. By working with the Palouse Food Project and the WSU Community Service Learning Center the farm addresses local food security issues and provides a location for volunteer participation.
Meet Tom and Cheryl Kammerzell of Maple K Farms in Colfax, WA
This farm raises cattle. Visit www.maplekhighlands.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-397-4589.
The Kammerzell farm was first established in 1936 by Tom’s grandparents as a wheat and barley farm. In 1995 Tom & Cheryl purchased the homestead from the family and began raising naturally grown and finished cross-bred steers. With 20+ years experience in various aspects of the cattle business, we were always looking to improve our product and offer the best beef possible.
When we decided to move up to raising our own cattle, we came across Highland cattle and their natural age-old attributes. It seemed like the perfect fit, ease of handling, low maintenance, with superior meat as the end product. In 1997 we purchased our first Highland cattle and have grown our herd to 60+ animals. In our short time in the Highland business, we have produced winning show animals, as well as, increasing our beef business to the point of having a waiting list.
We utilize sustainable practices to rise high quality grass pastures. We manage those pastures through rotational grazing of grass fed Highland Beef.
Apprentice living facilities: Small camp trailer with water & electricity may be available. Contact farmer for details.
Meet Lora Lee and Rick Misterly of Quillisascut Farm in Rice, WA
This farm raises dairy goats, makes cheese, and grows fruit and vegetables. Visit quillisascut.com or contact email@example.com or 509-738-2011.
QUILLISASCUT, pronounced Quil-li-sās-cut, and translated as“place of scattered bushes”, is located 85 miles northwest of Spokane, Washington, 45 miles due south of the Canadian border. Lora Lea and Rick Misterly, operators of Quillisascut, have been milking their goats and producing their artisan cheese on 36-acres since 1987.
Quillisascut offers internships and mentorships focused on dairy goat husbandry, poultry, the farm-to-table continuum, provides experience with mixed vegetable and fruit gardens, a small vineyard, composting, rotational grazing, integrated pest management, and offers a week-long Farm School on Sustainable Small Farming and Ranching. Lodging is available for interns who choose to live on the farm.
“I feel it is the duty for all of us who love working with the land to share the information we have gained with others. This farm school is my goal for passing on the knowledge gathered over the last 20 years on this piece of land.” – Lora Lea Misterly
Meet Stacia and David Moffett of Moffett’s Organics in Colton, WA
This farm grows fruit, grapes, vegetables and flowers. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-332-7313.
Our goal was to live where we could have a real garden, a good place for our dogs, and where we could see the stars at night. We have always believed in living lightly on the land and farming sustainably. Our Wawawai Canyon home, outside of Colton, Washington is a certified organic farm. Our major crop is wine grapes, which we can now process into wine and bottle at our newly licensed winery.
For some years we have been able to expand our original goal of growing most of our own food to also supply vegetables, flowers, herbs, nuts and fruit for local markets. Most recently, we have accepted memberships in Moffett’s Organics Community Supported Agriculture.
This apprenticeship offers an extensive list of studies covering all aspects of raising certified organic wine grapes in the vineyard, along with a market garden consisting of nuts, fruit and vegetables produced by intensive use of small plots and successfully marketing their products.
Distance is a reasonable commute to farm from Moscow, Pullman and surrounding areas. Non-smokers only.
Meet Anika Moran and Grayson Crane of Mother Earth Farm in Puyallup, WA
This farm produces fruit, vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Visit http://www.efoodnet.org/about-us/mother-earth-farm/ or email Anika at email@example.com.
Mother Earth Farm is an 8 acre non-profit farm that grows food for food banks and hot meal sites in Pierce County. The farm grows a diverse variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs using only organic practices. Although a small portion of the farm is in perennial crops, the majority of the cultivated land consists of annual vegetables in rotation. There are also a number of smaller endeavors on the property that include season extension projects, beekeeping, and public and private events to raise awareness about hunger in Pierce County.
The farm is also committed to sustainable community connections by working with local communities as volunteers and eaters. It employs incarcerated women from the Correctional Center in Gig Harbor and relies on that crew as well as volunteer labor to accomplish tasks from seeding to weeding to harvesting.
Mother Earth Farm uses practices such as integrated pest management, crop rotation, composting, cover cropping, targeted drip irrigation, mulching, and a significant amount of hand labor to protect and improve our soil, grow healthy crops, and conserve soil moisture. The farm purchases supplies from local businesses when possible and makes an effort to use organic seed as well as save its own seed.
Ideally, interns at Mother Earth Farm will work at least one full or half day every week on a set day sometime between Monday and Saturday throughout the growing season. Outside of the normal 8am to 5pm work day, there are no special requirements. Please contact the farmers for more information.
Meet Anne Schwartz of Blue Heron Farm in Rockport, WA
This farm produces vegetables, blueberries, and raspberries. Visit http://marblemount.com/blueheron/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blue Heron Farm was established in 1979 and has been certified organic since 1981. It is located in Eastern Skagit Valley, which becomes a narrow river valley about 60 miles east of Puget Sound and 60 miles south of the Canadian Border. The farm grows 9 acres of mixed vegetables and blueberries with a few raspberries. The farm has developed a number of strategies to address different pests and diseases and depends heavily on cover crops for soil health and fertility. Anne is very active in several organizations working on issues around sustainable agriculture.
Most of the farm’s sales occur within 60 miles of the farm. In addition to a small (40 member) CSA, Blue Heron sells to the North Cascades’ Institute Environmental Learning Center, a regional food coop, and a larger home delivery business.
Blue Heron Farm has hosted interns since 1981, many of whom have gone on to farm or run their own natural resource business. It is best for interns to start in April or early May and stay through the end of October or early November when everything has been put to bed. The farm has an intern application process that requires a resume, 2-3 work references, a list of skills that you are particularly interested in acquiring, and an explanation of the aspects of agriculture specifically of interest to you. Contact Anne to find out more about how to apply.
Meet Susan and Harley Soltes of Bow Hill Blueberries in Bow, WA
This farm raises goats and chickens and grows blueberries and edamame. Visit www.bowhillblueberries.com or contact email@example.com.
Established in 1947, Bow Hill Blueberries is the oldest blueberry farm in the Skagit Valley. The historic fields specialize in heirloom varieties. As the second family to own the farm, we have just completed the transition to Certified Organic.
Our goals are to grow and eat the best food possible; to make the farm sustainable through unique farm crafted blueberry products; create community by sharing what we are fortunate to have; and promote and help our neighboring farmers though the Puget Sound Food Hub and the Bow-Edison Food Trail.
We offer you-pick and we-pick and sell our products our farm store, at the Bellingham farmers market and to hospitals, corporations, schools, senior centers, coops and restaurants through the Puget Sound Food Hub.
Learning objectives for our interns and those we mentor include:
- gain hands-on experience growing, marketing, and selling farm products
- explore value-added product creation
- learn the importance of farm sustainability
Meet Lynn Swanson of Glendale Shepherd Farm in Clinton, WA
This farm produces sheep’s milk cheese and yogurt, as well as lamb. Visit glendaleshepherd.com or email Lynn Swanson at Lynn@glendaleshepherd.com.
Glendale Shepherd is a family owned and operated farm and creamery located on the south end of Whidbey Island, a little over an hour away from Seattle. Situated on 200 acres of predominantly forest, the farm also has pastures for their flock of 60 milking ewes, as well as beach access for farm residents. The farm’s main products are a variety of fresh and aged cheeses, yogurt and, seasonally, lamb meat. Glendale Shepherd is Animal Welfare Approved. The Swanson family is committed to creating quality (and delicious) products as ethically and sustainably as possible, and seeks out interns who have a true enthusiasm for learning about all things dairy, as well a commitment to hard work, humor and sustainability.
Interns at Glendale Shepherd have the opportunity to learn about all aspects of running a sheep dairy operation. This includes milking the flock twice a day and participating in general animal husbandry and care (feeding, health assessments, hoof trimming, etc.). Additionally, interns assist Lynn in the cheese and aging rooms of the cheese making facility. Further chances to learn about forestry, rabbit care and gardening are also possible.
Interns are provided room and board in exchange for their contributions, and are expected to work 30-40 hours per week.
Meet Tom Thornton of Cloud Mountain Farm Center in Everson, WA
This farm produces nursery plants, vegetables, and tree fruit. Visit www.cloudmountainfarmcenter.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cloud Mountain Farm Center is a production based non-profit farm with a strong focus on farmer education and training. This diverse 45-acre operation includes greenhouse propagation and production of woody ornamental and food plants. We grow tomatoes, melons, peppers, eggplants and sundry other crops in seasonal high tunnels that are rotated annually. Orchards of apples, pears, peaches, cherry, plum, quince and vineyards of wine and table grapes are grown using the softest pest and disease management strategies available, which are mixed conventional and organic practices. All vegetable and strawberry production is certified organic.
We have collaborated with WSU scientists for over 30 years in crop development trials and have been running our own crop development trials for over 20 years. We have built our business around these trials and continually work to develop new varieties and management systems in our tree fruits as well as in many vegetable crops. Our goals are to help develop more sustainable production systems for many crops already grown in our region and to develop productive and profitable management plans for crops not commonly grown that could be high value crops for market farmers in the region.
Our plant nursery is open from February through November and we sell fruits and vegetables from May through November. We sell produce to 21 different wholesale markets in the area as well as at 2 farmers markets. We have extensive experience in marketing, customer service, and the trucking of perishable products. Currently all of our products are sold out the front door or within a 40-mile radius. Our nursery business sells to individuals, landscapers, market farmers and to commercial vineyards and wineries throughout the country and into Canada. We are just finishing construction on a vegetable processing facility where part of our focus will be with Farm to School products and moving larger volumes of produce into institutional markets such as universities and hospitals.
Cloud Mountain has been giving workshops and hosting apprentices and interns since 1979. Our educational workshops and presentations made around the region have engaged over 7,000 people. The goal of our internship program is to provide interns with the tools to develop their own farming operation or to become a key employee in a farming operation. The program has grown to 7 internships in 2014. Our interns are required to work 32 hours a week at minimum wage and pay us to attend class and educational activities for 8 to 15 hours a week. They are asked to keep up on daily readings averaging 10 to 20 pages per night. We have a full curriculum addressing orcharding, viticulture, row crops, nursery propagation and production, soil health, marketing and business planning. For a copy of our intern application email email@example.com.
Meet Rachael Van Laanen and Scott Brinton of Mystery Bay Farm in Nordland, WA
Mystery Bay Farm is a family run, micro-goat dairy operating on five acres on Marrowstone Island. We have been a WSDA certified Grade A dairy since the spring of 2009. We make goat milk cheeses, yogurt and caramel using only the milk of our own animals. In addition, we offer educational farm tours and cheese making classes by reservation. Our products are available at the Port Townsend farmers market, several specialty stores in our area, and restaurants.
We came to farming via ecology and we believe farming can be done in an ecologically, economically, and socially responsible manner. We milk 100% American Alpine dairy goats and since they ‘are what they eat’, we judiciously monitor their food. We practice intensive, rotational grazing which utilizes classic grass pasture with brush islands. This mix highlights the natural need for browse in a goat’s diet and reduces the dependency on hay during the spring and summer months. We breed adults in the fall, which gives us spring kids five months later. We are milking 20 goats during the 2014 season.
We offer tours and classes as a way to educate and integrate the community into the farm. As career educators, we feel that there is a need to inform the greater public about where our food comes from and to provide a genuine experience for the growing number of people interested in artisan, non-industrial food production and farming. Being a reputable farm for apprentices in cheese making and goat husbandry is an important part of our mission.