Collaboration and Apprenticeships

We are always looking to connect with talented, energetic people with an interest in regeneration.  If you think you might have something to offer and want to learn more about our work or process, get hands-on skills at the research farms or otherwise collaborate please contact us.  Be persistent and if you do not hear back from us it is because we get numerous emails and attend to client work first.  

Apprenticeship Training Program

The 2016 apprenticeship training program is now full.  We look forward to hearing from you about 2017. 

  1. Review this website and page especially, thoroughly.  
  2. Paypal to (ben@wholesystemsdesign.com) for $20.00 USD to cover application/vetting process and filter out people who are not serious.
  3. Send a cover letter and 3 phone references to ben@wholesystemsdesign.com with "Apprenticeship" in the subject.
  4. We will select a group of potential apprentices to attend a day and a half gathering at the farm in the winter.  You will hear from us if you are asked to visit at this time. 
  5. Apprenticeship is filled on a rolling basis.

General Overview

We are accepting apprentices on a rolling basis and are offering the following opportunity.

Cost:  A $50 one time program fee. You practice the skills and techniques shown below (and many others), learning-by-doing in exchange for mentorship by those with decades of experience.  

Topical outline

  • Hands-on practice in developing a regenerative commercial farm with multiple enterprises: including plant propagation and tree planting, medicine-making, vegetable production, forestry systems, earthworks, water systems, surveying, fertility-enhancement, soil production, mushroom production and much more. Apprentices will work alongside Ben Falk, Cornelius Murphy, Erica Koch ND, our Permaculture Design Instructor team, and others experienced in these systems.
  • Experience at the original WSD research farm with managing and enhancing established systems. This work at an established site will go along with work at the larger new site to form a whole picture of permaculture land use from year 0 to year 13.  
  • Client consults with Ben Falk to WSD's client sites and site consult locations via WSD - among the most active land consultants in regeneration on the planet.
  • Planting and plant-care at the newer site, laying out farm-scale plantings, working with swales.
  • Apprenticeships, employment and eventual land procurement opportunities are potential possibilities for those engaging in this program, but cannot be guaranteed.  
  • Some design experience in the WSD studio available to design and graphics professionals as well as students in landscape architecture, architecture and other students, along with consultancy experience with Ben Falk in the field on project sites.

What skills will I be exposed to and practice?

General:

Edible landscape design and installation as well as management over time
Grafting and plant propogation
Medicine making, and plant system establishment
Pollinator promotion
Hand tool use and
maintenance, sharpening and knots 
Fencing
Design, system layouts
Tree planting, earth shaping and earthworks
Site design and management day to day
Animal husbandry
Keyline ID and design/layout 
Vegetables: 
Garden design
Companion planting
Orchard renovation and pruning
Crop rotation
Weed control
Sowing/broadcasting, plant spacing
Successional planting and management
Season extension techniques
Composting Remineralization and 
Erosion control
Irrigation/gravity feed water
Fertility management
Tree/bush crops: 
Propagation of plants from seed. 
Plant ID Water/irrigation systems
And much much more as part of the daily life on a farm and homestead.

For 2017 some of the main learning themes / projects on tap are:
-Grafting and pruning existing trees, this will be what we start with. You will be asked to have some real grafting practice before you arrive so we can hit the ground running.
-Planting (as usual) but not as many trees as in the past. 
-Fencing systems, we’ll be learning fence installation through hands on practice.
-Water/pasture water systems.
-Spring development and capturing of a spring (this is going be especially exciting and a historic event for the rochester farm)
-Plant and other systems management of both the newer site's 4 year old newer agroforestry systems and Moretown’s older 14 year old site.
-Misc other farm and homestead management - splitting wood, building a few things.
-Vegetable garden establishment and management,
-Nursery work, plant propagation, seed starting 2-5 days
-Misc non project learning time/practice/study, field trips/site consultations.
-Animal management/grazing a cow herd, fencing, water movements.
-Days unstructured.
Following the May apprenticeship we will again have paid work with apprentices moving into employee roles. This will be working for WSD clients on projects employing their skills we’ve practiced and/or on WSD research farm sites managing the systems.  We will arrange housing affordably on site (there’s a two story cabin which has been used in the past).  Pay rate is $12/hour starting and rises to 15/hour often when proficiency is high.  This is possible of the entire summer and sometimes into the fall. Usually 1-3 apprentices evolve into this role and we mutually decide upon this in the last two weeks of the apprenticeship together.  We have a need for 2-3 people part time throughout the summer to fill these employed roles.  Such an employee would also have the opportunity to be part of our June permaculture design course.   
 
WHAT SKILLS DO YOU NEED? 
People with carpentry, metalworking, plumbing, animal management, and basic farm skills or skills in the trades are most likely to be selected for these opportunities but not the only ones selected.

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Grazier/Livestock Manager

Our second research farm has an opportunity for someone to start and/or manage a herd of beef cows (or other large grazing animals) on site.  

Vegetable grower

There's an opportunity on site to grow vegetables for the multi-thousand meals served on site and local markets. Inquire if interested. Ag. soil avaiable along with major equipment needed.  

In-House Nurseryman/woman, plant propagator

Our second research farm is seeking someone with significant plant propagation experience to establish an enterprise on site which will provide the thousands of plants needed to plant-out the property over the next several years.  The enterprise could also provide plant material to the local region.  This would be a live-in situation where the nurserywoman/man run this business based on the farm. It would probably be a part time job for most of the year, full time during the late winter/early spring.  Signicant support would be available to help incubate this business.  Prospects for long term tenancy or ownership are significant over time.  

Due to the high volume of interest we regret that we are not always able to respond to all inquiries.  

A portfolio is recommended for most work-related opportunities.