Discusssion on Apprenticeships

It has been a very busy several weeks on the farm. Between canning and answering emails for intern requests, my days have been pleasantly full. πŸ™‚

As most of you may know, from August 1-15, we were accepting emailed interests for next summer’s intern team. On Monday, we officially announced our next full time apprentices, chosen from the team we currently have on farm.

Here is a picture of them. We couldn’t be more thrilled.

left to right: Ben Ward, Heather Makoski, Jonathan Hale

The whole team this year has been amazing. We have been truly blessed with an absolutely amazing group of young and not-so-young farmers.

In honor of the “intern & apprentice selection season”, I’m going to open the floor for some questions about our intern programs.

There are some things that we keep to ourselves, (i.e. our questionnaire) and some things that I’m sure I won’t know the answer to, but I’ll do my best.

What questions or comments do you have? Any messages you would like passed on to these folks?

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About Sheri Salatin

Sheri is married to Daniel Salatin. She is the marketing director at Polyface Farm and stay-at-home mom of three children. Sheri is passionate about clean food and is enjoying working the land along side her husband. When not farming, Sheri can be found reading, writing, sewing, baking and serving in her church family.

36 Responses to Discusssion on Apprenticeships

  1. Joel Holmes says:

    Do you have ideal age limits when going through applications?

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      We have not set any age limit on the applicants. We figure that if the guy or gal can do the work, age doesn’t really matter. Our oldest intern/apprentice was in his 50’s.

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      I forgot that I should also mention that they must be at least 18 at the start of the internship (child labor laws)

  2. Please send me your rejects. I need some help and cannot afford to be picky.
    thanks! Mike Connor
    Kingdom Hill Farm
    Brownington Vermont

  3. Caitlyn M. says:

    Congrats to the apprentices!! I met Heather and Ben while at the farm check-out in January, but I don’t think I got to meet Jonathan… I won’t deny that I am jealous of their luck. πŸ˜‰

  4. Carrie E. says:

    What backgrounds do your interns have? Farm vs. city? Experienced or newbie to farming? etc.

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      All kinds. We have an intern now who is from inner city California and we have others from family farms that have been generations long. We don’t consider experience necessary.

  5. Shawna Barr says:

    Polyface is now extremely well known, and I imagine you have no trouble finding interested potentential interns. For newer, lesser known farms (or back in the day when Polyface was unknown!) what is an efficient way to find interns?

    Also, I understand that Polyface provides room and board (and of course an amazing education)…what do you expect in return from your interns?

    And finally (sorry, I have a lot of questions!) what are the MOST important qualities you seek in an intern, and how do you determine whether a potential intern has those qualities?


    • Sheri Salatin says:

      Go to farming conferences and ask around.
      Put an ad in The Stockman Grass Farmer or Acres USA
      Ask your customers. πŸ™‚

      We expect hard work and their 100% loyalty and focus.

      Most important is teachability and openness in learning.

  6. khristian says:

    No age limits but could one bring his wife and 3 young daughters along also? I understand not for the intern, but if that intern earned the chance for the year long apprenticeship? We are all wanting to experience this!

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      No, we do not accept whole families. Too many conflicts of interest and it just doesn’t work. We accept married couples, but no children (child labor laws).

  7. Leilani says:

    Love to see the smiling faces, in them I see hope for the future of sustainable agriculture. I would love to hear what the first week is like when you get a new batch of interns in πŸ™‚

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      Stressful. πŸ™‚ No, really we are all adjusting. They are all exhausted because everything is new. There is lots of patience doled out on every side. Lots of standing around, watching us do the work. Lots and lots of communication of expectations and correct way of doing things. πŸ™‚

  8. Congratulations to Jonathan, Heather and Ben. Congrats also to the rest of the summer interns. They’ve just come through a summer job experience that must have been life changing for most of them.

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      Thank you. πŸ™‚ We have a small gift for you. Can you send me an email with your address? (farmchick{at}polyfaceshop{dot}com)

  9. Marilyn Wilkie says:

    I would just like to comment that it is truly wonderful to see young people who want to change the course of American eating. Nothing is more important than the food we eat. The more young people that get involved in this crusade, the better. They will instruct their friends and children and families for future generations to come. Good luck in all you do!

  10. Hi fine folks. We met many of you at one of the Polyface Intensive Discovery Seminars. Your spirit, enthusiasm, desire to work and do and be in the world is infectious. Now that you’ve graduated from one of the most respected schools in the country, and if you are looking for a farm opportunity that you can write yourself in a beautiful little enclave in central North Carolina re-writing itself, with food as its central tenant, please get in touch with us. We raise broilers, dairy cows, sheep, pigs, laying hens and turkeys on about 100 acres in and around a mill town in the middle of a complete and organic revitalization and partner with two farm-to-table restaurants across the road from the farm. Opportunities in addition to a farm management position include whole-animal butchery, charcuterie, market gardening, commercial-scale food perservation, traditional-style baking, market flower production, craft brewing, large-scale composting, retail merchandising of local and artisinal goods, and restaurant food preperation and line cooking food with integrity. Compose your own opportunity and come visit us. Google “Saxapahaw” to get some flavor. info@cozifarms.com

  11. This is probably off topic, but I hope the ones chosen for apprenticeships appreciate the importance of what they are going to learn hands-on that is. Some time back Joel was slammed by the Vegan Industry for his methods for which there is no comparison to hideous science-based Industrial farming. In the article cited, the well known Vegan expert had a number of his oddball readers make comments in support of Lad created Franken-Meats.

    PETA has spent massive amounts of money on Franken-Meat research and here is an updated article on this unnatural perverted science-based product which has been created and researched in the city of GΓΆteborg Sweden where I reside presently. The Swedes will be the first guinea pigs to be served this degenerate food.




    Please future Farmers, use your brain, listen, learn and follow the intelligently designed patterns found in the Natural world.

  12. Rachel says:

    Hello! How many applications do you typically receive each year?

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      I almost hesitate to answer this question because each year is different. Last year we had 92 applications submitted.

  13. Bill Cheatam says:

    Are the interns satisfied with their experience on the farm? Is it common for them to want to leave before the end of Sept.?

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      We always tell our interns and applicants “You get out, what you put in”. If they are dedicated and put in their very best, they will leave here after four months with knowledge that amazes them. If they don’t…well, you know. πŸ™‚

      No, it is not at all common for them to leave before the end of September. I believe in all of our years doing this, we’ve only had 3 leave before the scheduled time.

  14. Tawanda says:

    Sherri, no question, just a hardy – thanks to you all!

  15. Lauren says:

    I am currently a pre-med college student and I find it unsatisfying because you don’t help people till after there is a problem. That’s why I’m interested in getting into the farming business because it’s hands on, while actually getting to prevent problems such as cancer and obesity with healthy foods. I was wondering if a degree in agriculture would be helpful or is it something that you just have to go down experience.

  16. Megan says:

    I am working towards a transition into self sufficiency and farming. My research brought me to “You Can Farm” and I was sad to discover I am too late to apply for a 2013 internship at Polyface Farms. Do you have any recommendations for other locations on the East Coast to research? Thanks for your time.

    • Suzanne says:

      Megan, Our farm is looking for an apprentice for the 2013 season. We raise dairy cows, sheep, pigs, broilers, layers and turkeys in a rotational grazing system, and we are also working on a market garden, all in a little village with its own general store and two farm-to-fork restaurants that we serve. Many opportunities for learning abound, including traditional baking, meat curing, vegetable preservation and more. Please email us at info@cozifarms.com.

  17. Virginia P. says:

    I’m hesitant to ask what I want to ask, because I’m sure I’ll look like an idiot. But I really want to know… What kind of work do you need to be able to do to be a Polyface intern or apprentice? What kind of physical shape do you need to be in, I mean? I’ve heard Joel talk about how the work is very challenging. I would like to train myself to be strong enough to be able to handle this kind of work. What level of fitness do I need to shoot for? Do I need to be able to run 10 miles? Walk 30? Lift 100lbs? Lift 50lbs a hundred times in a row? How do I know if I’m fit enough to consider applying for this kind of work?

  18. Sofia says:


    Would you consider letting an intern (not apprentice) live off farm nearby? I have 2 children that could stay with a friend nearby during the day but I would need to be mommy by night.


  19. Thank you for all your writings, Sheri! I’m curious and wondering why you don’t share your questionnaire? Thanks!

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