Fields of Farmers | Especially for Mentors Part 1
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Wow, great discussion last week on “What the big deal?” Thank you all for sharing. If you missed it, you’ll definitely want to go back and read over the comments. You can see that here.

This week we start the “Especially for Mentors” section in the book. We’re going to be on this section for 2 weeks.

Chapter 3 – Wages

041I’m just going to fire away some talking points here and let you all lead the discussion in the direction you want it to go.

  • Are interns slaves? (page 36) Do you think they should be paid or should they pay to intern? (try to answer this question as though you are the mentor, not the intern. We’ll get to discussing the intern in future chapters) What’s fair?
  • Do you agree that many farm internships are too simple? (page 40) Do you think a diversified farm is the only farm who can have an internship program?
  • Have you interned at a farm? Was there enough teaching? What would you change if it were your operation?
  • What do you say to this: “Having interns is far riskier than having employees.”?

Chapter 4 – Mindset

  • Cover--Fields of FarmersAre you ready for interns? When giving his speech on mentoring, Daniel always asks “Are you ready to live in a glass house?” Everything you do will be questioned, from religion, to politics, to what you watch on tv or don’t watch, to what you read, to how you raise your kids and treat your spouse. Your life will become an open book.
  • Do you agree with Joel’s take on the mentor mindset? Why or why not?

Okay, I’m going to leave this here for now and give you all chance to speak up.

Do you have anything to add?

Let’s talk!

Happy Friday!

I’ll see you next week with discussions on Chapters 5 and 6.

To catch up all discussions of Fields of Farmers, click here.

If you’re just visiting today and don’t yet have a copy of this book, you can buy Fields of Farmers from Polyface here or Amazon here.

 

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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.
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6 Responses to Fields of Farmers | Especially for Mentors Part 1

  1. Larry Bailey says:

    Are interns slaves? (page 36) No—they are similar to PhD grad students—learning by doing with some academics but never slaves : ) Not sure why some Americans call hard, grueling physical work “slavery”.
    Do you think they should be paid or should they pay to intern? (try to answer this question as though you are the mentor, not the intern. We’ll get to discussing the intern in future chapters) What’s fair? It depends on the value of the experience and the risk tolerance level of mentor farm. I think each mentor needs to compare what they offer in terms of diverse experience, depth of experience, trade “secret” tips and their value to intern with other options. Some larger organic farms in Washington/Oregon offer internships but pay minimum wage with no housing but with workers comp paid per state law. Others operate under the legal radar and provide housing, food, a modest stipend of a few hundred dollars per month (no workers comp) and hope the intern does not get injured. There have been a few injured interns in our area who have complained to the State and the State penalized the farmer. Tough choice to make.

    Do you agree that many farm internships are too simple? (page 40) NO—you get out of an internship what both Mentor and Intern put into it. Do you think a diversified farm is the only farm who can have an internship program? No—in our case as organic blueberry growers we are very specialized (pastured poultry and blueberries) so I believe we have things to teach that a large vegetable CSA cannot teach. It all depends on what the intern wants to learn.
    Have you interned at a farm? Was there enough teaching? What would you change if it were your operation?
    What do you say to this: “Having interns is far riskier than having employees.”? Amen—given the damage interns can do to equipment and expensive perennial plantings—arrggh! But they have to start somewhere and we need to pass on the knowledge and wisdom.

    Chapter 4 – Mindset
    Are you ready for interns? NO not yet maybe in another 5 years : )
    Do you agree with Joel’s take on the mentor mindset? Why or why not? Yes—it is an investment in the future generation. Mentors have to be forgiving and have the humility and honesty to look in the mirror at their own faults.

  2. Erin Herner says:

    No, interns are not slaves. They volunteer for the experience, if they don’t like the terms, no one is forcing them to go. I don’t think internships have to be paid, though it’s nice when an internship provides things like room and board or a stipend that help make it a bit easier for interns to fully engage in the experience.
    Re: internships being to simple, I think you get out of it what you put in. There’s always something to learn, I think, especially when you’re working for somebody who’s been farming for years. I suppose it depends on what the intern is wanting to learn.

  3. Thanks to all of you for the inspiration. Leave a comment below and let us know what you have done this week (or in the coming few days) and we’ll do another drawing and one more RAK post next week. I know this is a hard time for many, and the small things we do to encourage one another can really make a difference.

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