“After graduating from college with a major in Psychology and Spanish, I moved to Portland to look for a job. When five months had gone by and I found myself waiting tables, I decided I needed a major change in my life. After learning more about the local food movement and how important real food is in our modern diet, I really wanted to learn how to grow food for myself. After a little surfing on the internet, I found out about the Rogue Farm Corps internship cooperative. One month later my life changed drastically.
I moved to the Applegate Valley near Jacksonville, Oregon to intern at Siskiyou Crest Goat Dairy. During my six-month stay at the farmhouse, I learned some invaluable life lessons. There I met a community of folks who thrive off the land and who share a passion for real, local food through sustainable agriculture. I met so many incredible people who each taught me something new and important. Through a structured program you are able to travel to many farms in the area, learning about different systems and how they run. I also made some good friends with other interns and with other farmers and was able to spend time cooking and relaxing together after a good day of work.
During my stay at Siskiyou Crest Goat dairy, I fell in love with the people, the land, and the animals. My first day there I was greeted by about 50 little goat kids, tails wagging and full of personality. In no time I was calling the goats by name and getting to know each animal intimately by hand milking them. Some of the things I learned include how to till and prepare a garden, grow vegetables, milk goats, make cheese, drive a tractor, harvest food, feed and care for the goats, cook food, compost, help with a CSA, can food, seed save, irrigate, use a chainsaw, hunt for wild mushrooms, and work at local farmer markets. Learning so much on my farm plus traveling to other farms in the area made the season just fly right on by. Before I knew it, the season was over and I had to take a breath and reflect on the wonderful things that we had accomplished as a farm, as a team.
I have further developed many of the skills I gained through Rogue Farm Corps, including cheese making and gardening, and will continue to use many of these skills for the rest of my life. I am currently working at an organic goat dairy in northern Washington making a living wage and loving what I do. I would not have been offered this job if it weren’t for my experience with RFC. I would recommend this program to anyone; in just a short time it will change your life in great ways.” ~ Annie E.
“I wanted to know what it was like to farm full time; I wanted to learn things about farming that only personal observation could teach you (you can talk about rotational grazing all you want, but you can’t actually know how to do it until you do it, watch how fast the grass grows etc); I wanted to get to know the farm community of southern Oregon; and I wanted to know if I could hack it, if I’d be capable of farming on my own; and I wanted to know how much more I needed to know. With Rogue Farm Corps, I got all of these things in spades.” ~Travis B.
“I was a Rogue Farm Corps intern at Willow-Witt Ranch during the 2011 season. I joined the Rogue Farm Corps after gaining some farming experience wwoofing on organic farms in New Zealand. I was looking for a more comprehensive, full-time farming position and was able to find that as an intern with Rogue Farm Corps. This internship has been instrumental in furthering my development as an emerging young farmer in many ways. First, it gave me the opportunity to experience working on a farm full-time and to decide whether farming is a career I would like to pursue in the future. Not only was I able to learn about animal husbandry at Willow-Witt Ranch, I had the chance to visit each of the other participating farms in the program and learn about the areas in organic farming that they specialized in. This gave me the chance to see the myriad of possibilities that exist for beginning farmers trying to find their own niche in today’s market. It also allowed me to network with other farmers as well as become inspired by their own passion for organic farming.
Lastly, Rogue Farm Corps gave me the opportunity to become involved with a wonderful farming community. I was able to meet other young aspiring farmers working at other farms in the program as well as become connected with the greater Rogue Valley community while working at local growers markets and attending local events. I would highly recommend the Rogue Farm Corps Intern Program to anyone that is interested in becoming an organic farmer and would like a chance to experience organic farming firsthand.” ~ Caitlin R.
“Participating in the Rogue Farm Corps internship cooperative meant a more positive internship for me on every level. In my daily life as an intern at Barking Moon Farm, I was able to constantly evaluate whether this is truly the life I want to pursue. Rogue Farm Corps provided a context of community and education that helped me in this evaluation and also motivated me to see more than simply the routine that farming can appear to be. Thoughtful discussion with other interns and farmers gave greater context to the work I was doing.
The opportunity to engage other farmers in the framework of workshops allowed me to see how particular methods were worked out by one farmer according to the needs of that farm and its landscape, but also enabled me to translate that understanding as I visited other farms in the program, leading to conversations that became more enriching as the season continued. What I had learned at a workshop almost always raised more questions that I shared with my host farmers, recharging old conversations and prompting new ones. Since the curriculum is presented as principals important to sustainable agriculture in a general way, I’ve learned to look for the different ways they can be expressed and opportunities to practice these principals as a responsible land steward and farmer in the future.
As I am moving on, still very much determined to farm, I’m aware that definitely the most appreciated aspect of participating in RFC is the friendships it fostered. Individuals are attracted to this life for what we each believe we can contribute to and gain from honestly participating in agriculture. Finding a community of peers similarly motivated and dedicated through RFC was incredibly important to me.” ~ Cameron W.
“I had the opportunity to be an intern with the Rouge Farm Corps (RFC) for the past 2011 season. During my time I have been working at Dancing Bear Farm. I have enjoyed both the experience of working on a farm and the educational opportunities that RFC provided. Over the past nine months I worked approximately 40 hours per week on the farm and attended classes organized by RFC on some Sundays. On the farm I was involved in planting, weeding, harvesting, attending markets, and processing seeds. The farmer was great about explaining his planning and decision making. He also was sure to give a good overview of the joys and challenges of farming. In addition, the classes were informative and enlightening. There were classes on many subjects: seeding, planting, entomology, poultry, permaculture, irrigation and more. There were also opportunities provided to engage in discussions with the interns on other farms and direction was given on where to learn more if an intern wanted. I was almost completely unaware of farming techniques on my arrival and this has been a good place to begin. It is also worth noting that in talking with other interns who did have more experience farming; they also found the classes and experience helpful.
On a personal note, I came to this internship from a desire to make a drastic life change from a career that I had been involved with for ten years. Of course, as with most big decisions I was unaware of what that would ultimately mean for my future. My time here has forever changed the way I think about farming and food. I intend to incorporate what I’ve learned here in growing food for myself as I can. Additionally, my experience here has forever changed the way I will shop for food. I intend to seek out community supported agriculture programs wherever I live and utilize co-ops and farmers markets whenever I can. Having such an intense, intimate, experience with growing and cooking the food here on the farm has been an experience I would encourage everyone to try!” ~ Kristin S.
“Five years ago, I relocated to Southern Oregon to take advantage of the unique opportunities offered through the Rogue Farm Corps internship program. I had been working on dairy farms in Washington for the last few years and I was ready to take on something more than the average farm internship. I was drawn to the RFC program and the opportunity to work on several farms, with a variety of folks and to learn from a wide-ranging curriculum. Though this unique internship program, I was able to concentrate on my love of dairy farming as well as take part in other farming ventures that have proved to be great training for setting up a small dairy operation and my own farm. During my time in Southern Oregon, I gained insight into participating and running a co-operative CSA, pasture management, irrigation systems, fruit tree production, medicinal herbs, farmer’s markets, flower production, fencing, composting, chicken production, tractor operation and repair and all the other challenges that face a community of small scale farmers.
Beyond the benefit of participating in the daily activities of the other farms, I also appreciated the built-in social network of the co-operative internship that can be so valuable when moving into a new and rural community. My time interning through RFC gave me more than just farm work experience, it allowed me to participate in a community that is working to preserve what is special about Southern Oregon and to fight the challenges found in small scale farming.
I would recommend the RFC program to anyone wishing to gain first hand experience in the world of small scale, sustainable farming.” ~ Lynda O.