Exploring organic farming internships is an excellent way to find educational opportunities in organic farming. These opportunities offer a hands-on approach to learning various aspects of farming including crop production, coffee farming and animal husbandry. Opportunities are varied and have different requirements. However, if you want to learn, are willing to work hard and have flexibility, internships may be the perfect opportunity for you.
About Organic Farming Internships
Organic farming internships are basically a way for you to learn about organic farming practices on an actual, operating farm. The farm may be as small as an acre or two to as much as 40 acres. You will be learning by doing and may work 20 hours a week or more depending on the situation.
Some operations prefer that you are studying some field of agriculture or a related course of study. Others will happily accept you if you have a strong interest in sustainable, organic farming and the ability to provide the labor that they need during their busy season. Available internship opportunities will vary in what they offer. Indeed, some farms simply have more to offer than others.
Established farms may have more modern accommodations than newer farms. Some may offer a room in their residence or a rustic cabin for housing. Others offer a place for your RV or just a place to pitch a tent. Yet others require that you locate your own accommodations. In most cases, housing options are stated in the internship listing. If anything is unclear, be sure to ask before you commit. You don't want any surprises that can ruin your experience.
Usually, an organic farming internship will include a monthly stipend for the work that you provide. This is not going to be a lucrative income; just something to compensate you for your work. You may earn $600 to $800 a month or even less, but the benefits of provided housing and other perks make it reasonable. The tremendous learning opportunity is the primary reason for participating in an internship, not the money. If you need a job to support a family, this is not usually the way to go. However, you will occasionally find an opportunity for a small family to live on site in exchange for labor. Technically, this isn't really an internship. Because the work is the same, however, you sometimes see these types of opportunities listed.
Many farms will provide interns with one or two meals a day. Others allow you the use of a shared kitchen along with farm-fresh foods for you to enjoy. You may take turns cooking for the farm or you may be totally responsible for your own food. Once again, this is something that is usually stated up front. If you are not sure, ask for clarification.
Length of Internship
The length of your stay is usually negotiable. Usually you will see that the farm in question has a minimum stay requirement. This can be from a few weeks to a month or more. Some farming internships allow you to stay on for a year or more.
You will want to consider the length of stay that you are willing to provide before you look for internships. Are you looking for college credits? Can you work an entire season? Keep these things in mind as you look at different opportunities.
Committing to work on a farm where you cannot meet the minimum stay requirement not only makes you look unreliable, it also creates a hardship for the farm that is depending on a certain amount of help to accomplish its goals.
Most internships are in the United States or Canada. This in itself can offer you a wonderful opportunity to travel places that you have always wanted to see while gaining valuable work experience.
Occasionally you will also find opportunities abroad. Usually these opportunities are in Central and South America, where you can learn about organic farming while you learn about another culture. Internships on organic farms are hard work, but they offer a learning opportunity that you will never forget.
There are several places for you to browse the internship opportunities available to you. Openings on individual organic farms are limited with most only needed a handful of people. Pay attention to application deadlines and other details to increase your chances of being selected for an opportunity. Here are a few places to look for internships on organic farms:
- Orion Grassroots Network allows you to search internships and jobs by state or country. You can also sign up for email updates so you don't miss new opportunities.
- ATTRA also has a searchable database of internship opportunities. This listing is primarily for opportunities in the United States and Canada.
- Backdoor Jobs lists opportunities in California, Connecticut, Montana and New York. They also have resources for jobs in other countries.
Browse these sites and check back often. You are sure to find the right organic farming internships for you.