I’m Off to Intern at Polyface Farm!


| 2/17/2014 3:53:00 PM


Tags: farm internship, beginning farming, Joel Salatin, Virginia, Kristen Kilfoyle,

I am off to Polyface Farm to intern for the summer and I’m so excited! I plan to write every week to explain toKristen Kilfoyle Polyface Farm Intern you what we are learning, how we spend our days, mistakes we make (that you can learn from) and basically anything that can help readers become better farmers and homesteaders. I’ll include lots of photos too, so make sure to check back!

I’ll start from the beginning and explain how I got to this point. For the past nine years, I have worked at my family’s stone company in a sales and project management capacity. I found that my hobbies and interests gravitated towards the farming/homesteading lifestyle, but given the prevailing social paradigm that farming doesn’t pay, is too much work, land is expensive, etc., I didn’t really see a way to make a life doing what I loved, and while I accepted it, it bummed me out.

Inspiration from Joel Salatin

At one point during my early garden hobbyist days, I Googled methods of growing potatoes in containers and up came an online article from MOTHER EARTH NEWS. After poring through the website, I immediately subscribed to the magazine and was heartened by how many subscribers there were and all the great ideas people were sharing. I had also read Joel Salatin’s You Can Farm, and was inspired by his can-do attitude and optimistic outlook on farming as a business. I saw him in Concord, Mass., when he came out to promote one of his newer books, Folks, This Ain’t Normal. I remember bringing up my dogeared copy of You Can Farm to the book signing table, told him how I loved this book and he wrote, “Oh yes you can!” on the inside page above his signature. I took that as the sign from the universe, and I decided that come hell or high water, I would have a farm. Joel Salatin said I could, and I believed him.

A few months later, Dan (my now-fiancé, whom I have known for the better part of a decade) got a job as a farm assistant at a sustainable pastured livestock farm. As a result, I was able to be included in their chicken processing and some vegetable harvesting. One of my favorite things to do after work became stopping by the farm to visit and help Dan wash and pack the eggs. After reading You Can Farm, I had been eyeing the Summer Internship section on Polyface Farm’s website, wanting to apply, but had to wait until the window of opportunity to request an application. (For 2014, the window is August 1st through August 10th. Mark your calendars!)

Polyface Farm Internship Process

I applied, reminding myself not to get my hopes up, but I received an email inviting me to come for what they at Polyface call a Two-Day Checkout. The Checkout period is a two-week window where one picks a two-to-three day time period where he will eat, sleep and work alongside the Salatin family and the Polyface staff, mainly for both sides to get to know each of the applicants and see how everyone works together. Of the almost 400 applications sent out, only 50 were invited. I was so excited to be offered the chance that I responded almost immediately with my dates (December 5th-6th).

I spent the next two months wondering what type of work I’d be doing, what I should pack, wondering whether they would they like me, and other sorts of things like that. It was a ten-hour drive, give or take, from Massachusetts and the weather was unseasonably warm, almost 70 degrees. Polyface Farm is located among some beautiful country and it was very surreal driving up the road seeing this farm I had seen in so many documentaries and read about so many times, knowing I was going to sleep there.


sammieb
2/19/2014 7:27:18 PM

Congratulations! What an honor. Hope to see your updates on this web site.




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