Crystal Spring 
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About forty individuals submit an application to become an apprentice at the Crystal Spring Farm.  They are all actively exploring being farmers.  Only five apprentices are chosen from the pool of applicants. 

Seth Kroeck and Maura Bannon, who manage Crystal Spring Farm, have welcomed apprentices through the MOFGA program for the past nine years.  They are well aware that without the efforts and assistance of the apprentices that the farm would be unable to operate.

The apprentices work Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 6 a.m. until noon with an hour taken for breakfast and an hour for a shared lunch. Responsibility for weekend chores (watering the greenhouse, irrigation, and livestock care) is taken on rotation every fifth week. CSA distribution and farmer’s market require late days and evenings which are traded for comp time on another work day. A full week’s vacation is given during the season and additional time off is available as the season dictates.

The work and pace are vigorous. Apprentices must be enthusiastic about long, physical days with concrete goals to achieve. They should be comfortable lifting 40 lbs above their waist. The best apprentice will be focused on training themselves to manage their own farms in the future and will be enthusiastic about trading long hours for hard skills and information to take with them. Farm experience and/or experience with intensive, multi-task oriented work (busy restaurants, warehouse/delivery work, etc.) is highly valued.

Competitive stipends are awarded and preference is given to applicants with experience and demonstrated agricultural goals.

All aspects of the farm’s management are part of the apprenticeship. Training in fieldwork both by hand and with equipment, greenhouse propagation, livestock management, harvest and handling techniques, marketing, financial systems and overall planning skills are examined and practiced over the course of the season.

Seasonal tasks: April: “planning systems” training, greenhouse seeding and care of starts, equipment training, field tillage and prep, seeding and transplanting, fencing, care of live stock.

May: Greenhouse seeding and care of starts, more field prep, irrigation set-up, transplant and seed, return of livestock to pasture and pastured lambing.

June: Greenhouse seeding and care of starts, transplant and seed, harvest for CSA and market, weed control, intensive pasture management, haying.

July: Greenhouse seeding and care of starts, transplant and seed, harvest for CSA and market, weed control, marketing of first lambs.

August: Transplant and seed, harvest for CSA and market, weed control, cover cropping.

September: Harvest for CSA and market, cover cropping, breeding of ewes.

October: Harvest for CSA and market, cover cropping, farm/equipment maintenance, put-away systems, begin next season’s planning.

Winter season: One apprenticeship is offered to help care for the farmstead and manage livestock over the winter months. (December -March). This position focuses on management of the Katahdin Hairsheep flock and requires prior livestock experience. Room is offered in exchange for limited hours each week.

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