Sustainable Agriculture Internship

at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC), Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., near Terre Haute.

At White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC) you’ll find 320 acres of forestland, 343 acres of certified organic cropland, a 5-acre organic garden, a small apiary from which we harvest and sell raw honey, and a herd of 48 alpacas.

We use the alpaca manure for compost in the garden and the valuable fiber is harvested annually to create handmade yarns, scarves, hats, shawls, Christmas ornaments and other items.

The produce grown at WVC is used in the Sisters of Providence dining halls, sold at the local Downtown Terre Haute Farmers’ Market and marketed via our 100-share Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

Interns Rusty and Linda work in the garden with Assistant Gardener Ann Testa on Nov. 1, 2013.

Interns Rusty and Linda work in the garden with Assistant Gardener Ann Testa on Nov. 1, 2013.

Our internships are designed to be customizable to your own goals, within the boundaries of what we offer at WVC. Interns can expect to work at both livestock and garden projects, and can develop an emphasis in either area if desired.

Some individuals find greater satisfaction specializing in one area, while others prefer a more holistic approach; either is acceptable. If you are interested in specializing in either alpaca care or organic gardening, please follow the links on the right for the specifics of those programs.

Qualifications:

The internship position is intended for individuals who wish to have a combination of field work and study. While much of the intern’s time will be spent working in the field, a portion of each week will be reserved for study in intern’s area of specialized interest.

The intern will also complete a project in his/her chosen area, so applicants should have a strong desire to learn.

Applicants must be physically fit, capable of lifting at least 50 pounds, must be able to use a shovel and wheelbarrow easily, and able to work in a variety of weather conditions. Previous experience with animals is preferred, but not necessary to apply. Above all, we encourage a willingness to learn and ability to self-direct.

Duration:

Duration is negotiable. There is a minimum commitment of three months with longer options available.

Photo op in the hoop house! From left, David Illyes (assistant garden manager), Sam Miller (Americorps Volunteer), Paul Haag (intern), Tracey Horan (intern), and Candace Minster (garden manager).

Photo op in the hoop house! From left, David Illyes (assistant garden manager), Sam Miller (2013 Americorps Volunteer), Paul Haag (2013 intern), Tracey Horan (2012-2013 intern), and Candace Minster (garden manager).

Start date:

negotiable

Hours:

five days a week with occasional weekends, 35-45 hours total.

Benefits:

a private dorm-style room, farm produce, one paid meal per day in the cafeteria, $100 monthly stipend, and access to WVC workshops. There are also opportunities to learn fiber arts such as felting, knitting and spinning, as well as opportunities for environmental advocacy, community engagement and spiritual growth.

Application procedure:

Contact Robyn Morton at rmorton@spsmw.org or 812-535-2932. Applicants will need a resume, cover letter and two letters of recommendation with contact information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Describe the physical setting of your farm and the nature of the community in which you live (e.g., acreage, woods/fields, buildings, near town/remote area, recreation available, etc.):

2011 intern Sister Kara, left, and Americorps Volunteer Jessica package honey from beehives at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice.

We have 320 acres of forestland, 343 acres of certified organic cropland, a 5-acre organic vegetable garden, a small apiary from which we harvest and sell raw honey, and a herd of 47 alpacas.

We have a greenhouse, an attached greenhouse office and vegetable washing station, a high tunnel in the field, and a field garden shed.

In addition, we have a walk-in refrigerator located in the back of the main WVC office building.

Describe your farm operation (e.g., livestock, crops, bees, herbs, forestry work, greenhouse, orchards, building projects, haying, maple sugaring, meat processing, level of mechanization, products made, marketing, dairy, stock dogs, etc.):

The produce grown at WVC is used in the Sisters of Providence kitchens and sold through our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and at the local farmers’ market. Our vegetable garden utilizes a fair degree of mechanical labor, but hand labor is required as well. Our small apiary is used for education programs and our small amounts of honey and wax are sold as well.

We breed and sell alpacas and use their manure for compost in the garden. Their valuable fiber is harvested annually to create handmade yarn, scarves, hats, shawls, and other garments that we sell inside the main WVC office.

Our row crops are primarily corn, soy, wheat, alfalfa and hay. All row crops are certified organic. Some crops are grown as cash crops and others are grown primarily as feed for our alpacas. While our farmer maintains these fields mostly on his own, we need all hands on deck to bring in the hay.

WVC is strongly dedicated to education and we host a variety of workshops and retreats throughout the year, as well as host to school field trips and scout trips. These programs use the farm as a classroom to teach care for creation, fiber arts, eco-spirituality, and much more.

Are all your crops organically grown? Yes. Our vegetable garden is not state certified, but we adhere to organic methods. Our row crops are certified.

Describe the work to be performed and the skills to be learned by an apprentice (e.g., care of livestock, planting, cultivation, harvesting, selling at market, use of equipment, carpentry, food preservation, woods-work, etc.).

Interns working in the garden learn about starting seeds, early season garden care and how to plan a garden. In the summer, they work on planting, cultivation, harvesting, and selling at our Saturday morning downtown farmers’ market.

2011 intern Matthew Bush plants potatoes in the spring.

Interns can expect to learn how to operate a tractor and tiller and may have the chance to do some food preservation, such as canning jams and drying tomatoes and apples.

In the fall, we work primarily on cleaning up the garden for winter and finishing up with cool weather crops. Interns can expect to learn season extension techniques, as well.

Interns working with alpacas can learn about basic animal care, proper feeding, routine medications, pasture rotation, pasture cleaning, routine grooming, halter training, preparing for alpaca shows, and shearing. These tasks happen year-round. Interested individuals can learn about fiber production and processing — the tasks involved when turning raw fleece into a finished garment. In addition, interns can learn about other animal husbandry issues, such as pre- and post-natal care, proper pasture maintenance, business plans, and maintaining a breeding program.

What do you expect of an apprentice? (e.g., hours to be worked in a day, days to be worked in a week, heavy physical labor, time off, etc.)

White Violet Center’s business hours are Monday-Friday, roughly 8 a.m.-4 p.m., though these hours fluctuate according to the season.

Garden interns will need to work some Saturdays in the market season (June-October) and alpaca interns will rotate regular weekend chores.

Applicants must be physically fit, capable of lifting at least 50 pounds, must be able to use a shovel and wheelbarrow easily, and able to work in a variety of weather conditions.

Previous experience with animals and in organic growing systems is preferred, but not necessary to apply. Above all, we encourage a willingness to learn and ability to self-direct.

Explain how you intend to provide instruction and training to an apprentice (e.g., work along with the apprentice, demonstration, apprentice working alone, training “classes,” reading to be done, extent of supervision by yourself or others, etc.)

Rusty harvests vegetables during the summer of 2013.

Rusty harvests vegetables during the summer of 2013.

From time to time, we will offer formal classes and workshops that interns are encouraged to attend. We will also lead special educational sessions with WVC staff. Interns do have a required reading list, though it’s relatively light, but most learning will be done “on-the-job.”

Due to our relatively small staff, interns who can work well on their own and are self-directed are strongly desired.

Are you a full-time farmer? We are a ministry site that operates year-round

Can you pay a stipend or a wage in addition to providing room and board? Yes

If so, what are you offering and under what conditions? (i.e., experience level, duration of commitment, graduated scale)

2011 interns Devon Arndt, top, and Sharon Roberts, clean mixed lettuce.

2011 interns Devon Arndt, top, and Sharon Roberts, clean mixed lettuce.

We can provide a dorm-style room and one paid meal per workday, to be eaten in the cafeteria. In addition, interns get their share of produce from the garden and a monthly stipend of $100.

College credit can often be arranged via the intern’s college or university, if desired. WVC is tobacco-free.

Do you require a prospective apprentice to visit your farm before a final arrangement is made? Yes, this is strongly encouraged.

Do you require a trial period? No

Describe your philosophy, goals and interests:

White Violet Center for Eco-Justice is a ministry of the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind. We are dedicated to being an educational resource in the community so that people may learn about ways they can lessen their impact on the earth and deepen their sense of spirituality in the natural world.

For more information or to apply

Robyn Morton, associate director, at rmorton@spsmw.org or 812-535-2932.