Beginning Farmer Training Program

Permaculture Internship

The 2022 season will run from May 1-October 3, 2022, with a 1-month minimum stay (flexible start & end dates throughout the season). 2022 applications will open January 1 and will be accepted on a rolling basis throughout the season. Please check back in January for details on how to apply.

COVID Update as of October 2021: We were able to safely carry out our internship for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, hosting 60 interns throughout the pandemic, by implementing a COVID safety plan with the consultation of health professionals from NYCAMH. Based on the evolving nature of the pandemic, our quarantine policy is still in place to maintain the safety of our interns and the communities we serve. Interns are required to quarantine for 2 weeks (14 days) prior to arrival, and upon arrival, to have their temperature checked using a non-contact thermometer. Once at the farm, all interns and staff quarantine on-site as a pod together.

2022 will be our 9th season welcoming interns at Unadilla Community Farm for our permaculture internship. We host interns with all levels of experience, with a commitment to sustainability and a desire to learn together how we can forge a new life independent of mainstream consumer culture. We host a cohort of 30 to 40 interns each season from May to early October. As a 501(c)3 non-profit education center, we rely on the generous support of small-dollar donors, foundations, and grants to cover all intern expenses including room & board, daily on-site training, and weekly classes/workshops, ensuring that the program is available at no cost to participants.

Our permaculture internship is more than just a beginning farmer training program. It is an immersion into a rural, off-grid sustainable way of life. Interns gain hands-on experience in no-till organic farming, regenerative agroforestry, permaculture design, natural building, food preservation, and more. Our internship is about divesting from mainstream consumer culture, and learning to support ourselves by growing our own organic produce, utilizing natural building methods to construct our infrastructure, making our own household products like soap, reviving traditional agricultural and lifestyle practices, and living in community. We equip interns with the skills to become more sustainable and self-sufficient and replicate permaculture models in their communities.

Beyond providing hands-on training in sustainable farming and natural building (“hard skills”) to prepare interns for careers in food and farming or self-sufficient homesteading, our program is also an opportunity for students and young people to learn and improve upon interpersonal or “soft” skills that can be applied to any type of workplace or community living, such as: time management; communication; organization; leadership; listening; and teamwork/collaboration.

Our accredited permaculture internship program has attracted interns from North & South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and New Zealand. College and university students in both the U.S. & abroad have earned course credits for our internship program. Ask your advisor if you are eligible to earn credit too!
Countries Represented by Program Participants
Testimonials
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Program Graduates

Our Practices

Learn more about the practices that we teach, such as agroforestry, appropriate technology, foraging, permaculture design, plant-based cooking, and more.

Prerequisites

Due to the volume of applications that we receive, in 2022 we are providing the following prerequisites for application to our program. Please review the following to see if our internship would be a mutual fit.

Schedule

The 2022 internship season runs from May 1-October 3 (flexible start and end dates throughout the season). We ask interns to commit to a 1 month minimum stay during this time period. The internship is 25 hours a week, plus lots of optional activities and classes.

A Typical Day (Tuesday-Saturday):
6:45am-8:00am: Breakfast
8:00am-10:00am: (Optional) Assist with vegan/vegetarian lunch prep
10:00am-12:00pm: Seeding; transplanting; irrigation; weeding; mulching; trellising; pruning; harvesting
12:00pm-2:00pm: Lunch break
2:00pm-5:00pm: Natural building; timber framing; basic carpentry such as cutting, sanding, oiling, and assembly; lime stone masonry; firewood preparation; lawn mowing and weed whacking; no-till garden bed preparation
5:00pm-10:00pm: Free time: Swimming in the Unadilla River; dinner; board games; reading books from the Unadilla library

On Wednesdays, we hold “Open Night,” a weekly opportunity for interns to teach and share with their peers. Wednesday open nights have taken many forms, such as talent shows, poetry readings, story-telling, project presentations, and skill-sharing.

On Thursdays and Saturdays starting in mid-June, we run our veggie box delivery program, providing fresh, organic produce free and on a sliding scale to Edmeston families and local food banks. Interns participate in all aspects of the program, from production to harvesting to the wash and pack station, to gain experience in operating a “CSA-style” farm model.

On Sundays, we host free weekly on-site classes and workshops. Additionally, we host a monthly Zoom class on the 4th Thursday of the month with partner organizations, in lieu of monthly field trips, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watering the tomatoes in the high tunnel
Shiitake mushroom cultivation on logs in the forest

Class Offerings

Weekly on-site classes and monthly Zoom class topics are chosen by consensus among program participants. Below is a list of our current offerings for interns to choose from. Zoom classes are indicated with a *. 

Off-Grid Accommodations

Our farm is entirely off-grid and is transitioning off of fossil fuels. We now rely 100% on off-grid solar for all of our lighting, charging electronics, landscaping tools, irrigation, and some power tools. Sleeping accommodations include 2 single bedrooms in the barn loft, 2 double bedrooms in the skoolie (converted school bus), or tent camping (bring your own tent & camping gear). All organic vegetarian/vegan meals and snacks are provided, and typically eaten communally. The farm is a substance-free space. We have both indoor and outdoor kitchens, indoor and outdoor compost toilets, and a gravity-fed unheated shower as well as access to the Unadilla River. We don’t have wifi, but do have good cell phone reception with Verizon.