The Labor4Learning program helps beginning farmers get paid on-the-job training with experienced farmers, and pays experienced farmers for their time and effort.

Beginning farmers

Are you looking to get paid, On-The-Job Training with experienced farmers in Iowa? Practical Farmers of Iowa “Trainer” farmers will be hiring in the early part of the new year for the upcoming growing season. Check back in February 2014 for a list of farms to work for and farmers to learn from.

Get paid at least minimum wage and earn other benefits, including:

  • Paid Time Off to attend a PFI event during the term of employment
  • Discount to the Practical Farmers of Iowa 2015 Annual Conference ($100 value)
  • Special “Spring Training” Farminars geared to your needs
  • Connect with other “PFI Trainees”


  • Apply and be hired by a PFI Trainer farmer.
  • Have a strong motivation to learn the business of farming.
  • Be a current individual or whole farm member of Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Curious about your rights as a farm worker? Be sure to check out our Farm Employment FAQ for answers to your questions.

Experienced farmers

Are you looking for a high quality, motivated farm employee? Want to get paid up to $200 per month (maximum $1,000 per year) by Practical Farmers to share the business details a beginning farmer needs to know to be successful managing his/her own farm? Apply to be a Practical Farmers of Iowa Trainer.

Applications to become a Trainer are accepted each Fall for the following season. All complete applications submitted will be reviewed and up to fifteen Trainers will be selected by a committee made of diverse Practical Farmers member farmers. Must be a PFI member who farms in Iowa to be eligible to apply.

Hesitant to hire a farm employee due to questions about legal requirements? Check out our Farm Employment FAQ about the rights and responsibilities for Iowa farm workers and farm employers.

2014 Labor4Learning Trainers

Trainee Position Status Trainer and Farm Town Enterprises County Details
Filled Beebout, Jill and Sean Skeehan - Blue Gate Farm Chariton Certified Naturally Grown Fruits and Vegetables, Honey, Jams, Yarn/Fibers, Poultry, and Hay Lucas

Beebout, Jill and Sean Skeehan - Blue Gate Farm

Farm and Location: Blue Gate Farm, Chariton, Iowa (54 miles south of Des Moines, IA, 95 miles northwest of Kirksville, MO)

Experience: 9 years farming (L4L Trainer in 2013)

Description: We are interested in connecting with an individual who wants more than just a seasonal job, but wants to learn how we operate our business. 2014 will be our tenth season farming in south-central Iowa. In our first year we had no regular help, but occasionally brought on the neighbor kids to help bale hay. In our second year when we started our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) market, we engaged our first part-time worker. Since then we have ramped up to three full-time employees. In total, we have employed ten individuals to staff our produce operation. We continue to have good relationships with all our current and former employees. Our farm is Certified Naturally Grown. We produce fresh produce, free-range eggs, alpacas, honey, fruit trees, value-added products (homemade jam, noodles, cookies, hand-spun yarn), sold through our 50 member CSA and at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market. Alfalfa hay is sold from the farm, primarily for dairy goats and horses.

Job Title: Farm Crew Member

Start Date (approx): April

End Date (approx): October

Terms, Hours, Status: 40+ hours per week, full-time hourly at a pay rate of at least $8.00, commensurate with experience. Part-time (20 hours) per week positions available as well. Produce and eggs made available whenever possible.

On-farm Housing: Not available

Work Activities: The duties of the farm crew include assisting the farmers in soil preparation, planting, cultivating, harvesting, cleaning and packing produce during the week. Work areas include the fields, high tunnels, barn and orchards. The crew is requested to assist on two special events (on-farm) over the course of the season that involve Sunday hours all other hours are Monday through Friday.

Minimum qualifications: Farm crew members should be able to work outside in all weather, stand for extended periods of time, kneel/squat for extended periods of time, lift at least 50 pounds, and possess a valid drivers’ license

Skills desired: Previous horticulture experience is a plus, but not a requirement. Quick learner, self-starter, play well with others.

Contact: Jill Beebout by email: [email protected]



Filled Dunham, Andy and Melissa - Grinnell Heritage Farm Grinnell Certified Organic Fruits and Vegetables, grass-fed Beef Cattle, Poultry Poweshiek

Dunham, Andy and Melissa - Grinnell Heritage Farm

Farm and Location: Grinnell Heritage Farm, Grinnell, IA (55 miles east of Des Moines, IA)

Experience: 10 years (Andy) 7 years (Melissa) (L4L Trainers in 2013)

Description: Running a vegetable farm business in Grinnell since 2006 has taught us a lot about production and management and we believe we have the ability to share and teach what we have learned. We have been managing employees since 2007 and have employed dozens of employees since then. Last season we had 14 people on staff during peak season. Many of our employees have been with us for a number of years. The farm grows vegetables (primary enterprise), select fruits, chestnuts, beef cattle, hay and poultry (though not every year) sold to a direct Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) market, wholesale customers, and farmers markets. The farm has been certified organic by MOSA since 2009 and relies on crop rotation, cover crops, animal manures, and timely cultivation for weed management.

Job Title: Farm Crew Member

Terms, Hours, Status: Full-time 40+ hours per week. Pay rate $9.00 per hour commensurate with experience

Other benefits: Weekly CSA Share from farm

On-farm Housing: Not available

Work Activities: Any and all activities on a busy produce farm including, but not limited to: planting, transplanting, harvest, post-harvest handling, washing, packing, lifting, moving, delivering, and storing plants and produce.

Minimum qualifications: Able to work well with others, able to listen to and follow instructions, able to work outside in all weather, stand for long periods of time, lift at least 50 pounds, possess a valid drivers' license, non-smoker.

Skills desired: This position fills one of our crew member posts and needs to be treated like a job. Many of our crew members have been with us for many years and have a lot of knowledge to share. No produce experience is necessary, but an open mind to learning about produce is a must.

Start Date (approx): May 1

End Date (approx): November 1

Contact: Melissa Dunham [email protected]



Filled Faux, Rob - Genuine Faux Farm Tripoli Certified Organic Fruits and Vegetables, Poultry Bremer

Faux, Rob - Genuine Faux Farm

Farm and Location: Genuine Faux Farm, Tripoli, IA (26 miles north of Waterloo, IA)

Experience: 9 years farming (L4L Trainer in 2013)

Description: We grow certified organic horticultural crops and manage a pastured poultry system using organic methods. We use cover crops, all non-GMO seed, in a space efficient manner with intercropping techniques. Our markets include 120 member CSA, fresh produce for local preschool, public school, and elderly care. We do sell some product at farmers market and retail stores. Direct sale of starter plants, meat, poultry and eggs. Product is sold locally.

Job Title: Farm Crew Member

Terms, Hours, Status: Variable workload, paid a regular salary (approximately $9.00-$10.00 per hour) is commensurate with experience

Other benefits: Free lunch on the farm, customized vegetable CSA share

On-farm Housing: Not available

Work Activities: Duties may be a subset of any number of the following: making & planting seed trays, transplanting, seedbed preparations, cultivation and weeding, care of poultry, mulching, picking, cleaning, packing, staffing delivery points, data collection. Some duties may require working with animals, motorized equipment and sharp tools.

Minimum qualifications: Able to work in all weather conditions doing primarily physical labor. Interest in growing things and learning. Ability to follow-through with front end recordkeeping. Must be able to handle physical activity that includes walking, bending, crawling, and lifting up to 30 pounds. Own transportation to and from the farm.

Skills desired: Willingness to learn. Prefer some knowledge of horticulture/gardening or caring for poultry. Ability to maintain a working pace without direct supervision.

Start Date (approx): May

End Date (approx): October

Contact: Farmer Rob Faux at [email protected] or (319) 610-9201 or by post to: 2345 150th Street, Tripoli, IA 50676



Available Hafner, Earl and Jeff – Early Morning Harvest Panora Certified Organic rowcrops (corn, soybeans) small grains, and hay. Beef Cattle, Swine, Horticulture in Aquaponics system, tree crops/orchard, honey Guthrie

Hafner, Earl and Jeff – Early Morning Harvest

Farm and Location: Early Morning Harvest, Panora, IA (46 miles west of Des Moines)

Experience: 40 years experience, 15 as certified organic with multiple enterprises (organic row crops and small grains, hay, beef cattle, swine, horticulture (aquaponics), tree crops/orchard, honey), a creative atmosphere. Numerous employees hired between 10-15 over the years. This very diverse farm offers a beginner a great amount of knowledge to share in the following practices: certified organic, non-GMO, rotational grazing, extended crop rotations, cover crops.

Description: Jeff is really good at teaching in the greenhouse/aquaponics, and if the right person comes along, I can teach rotational grazing we have enough experience to provide a well-rounded offering that is tailored to the beginner's priorities. The farm grows and sells fresh produce for wholesale, grains and ground flour for local wholesale markets, honey, commodity hogs, commodity organic large grains, beef cattle commodity markets.

Job Title: Early Morning Harvest employee (three different jobs depending on passions of the applicant)

Terms, Hours, Status: Full-time 40+ hours per week, and part-time 20 hours per week hourly positions available. Pay is fixed at $8.00 per hour starting wage.

Other benefits:

On-farm Housing: Not available

Work Activities: Three positions available 1) run the flour mill, 2) Orchard management, 3) Aquaponics. Additional work could include feeding cattle; growing organic rowcrops, etc.

Minimum qualifications: Very honest, able to work on their own, ability to respect the privacy of our business and confidentiality of our records. Good Driving Record and no history with drugs.

Skills desired: Knowledge of wheat varieties preferred; mechanical skills; computer skills; customer relationship skills; and driving to deliver products.

Start Date (approx): February 2014

End Date (approx): December 2014 (on-going employment may be available)

Contact: Earl Hafner at (641) 757-0560, or email [email protected]



Filled Hartmann, Rick and Stacy – Small Potatoes Farm Minburn Certified Organic Fruits and Vegetables, Poultry Dallas

Hartmann, Rick – Small Potatoes Farm

Farm and Location: Small Potatoes Farm, Minburn, IA (35 miles northwest of Des Moines, 40 miles southwest of Ames)

Experience: Our farm is entering its 10th year of production and we feel we have become a successful, stable small direct-market farm. We have met our goals of financial security, while maintaining and improving environmental enhancements and community involvement. We have well-developed systems of crop production, rotation, harvesting, handling, and distribution. We also have reliable and effective record-keeping and communication systems. We feel our choice of labor the next five years should focus on candidates who would benefit from learning and adapting those successful aspects of our farming system to their own future operations. We have had significant part-time employment for ten years. From 2008 to 2013 we hired one full-time seasonal employee each season.

Description: Mostly horticultural, with some small fruit and a small laying flock. Certified organic vegetables (since 2005), free-ranging poultry. Approximately 85% of our farm revenue comes from Community Supported Agriculture. CSA produce is delivered to approximately 100 families in the Ames-Des Moines corridor on a weekly basis at six main delivery locations. Remaining significant revenue is generated through wholesale marketing to retail groceries.

Job Title: Seasonal Worker

Terms, Hours, Status: 40+ hours per week, full-time hourly position paid at $8.50-$9.50 per hour commensurate with experience.

Other benefits: Daily hot lunch, 30 minutes paid. Surplus vegetables.

On-farm Housing: Not available

Work Activities: Work activities center around two main tasks - managing weeds and packing shed delivery preparation. Managing weeds involves several strategies, including pushing a wheel hoe, using handled and hand hoes and hand weeding. Packing shed duties include washing, weighing and packaging vegetables, filling and dumping water, sorting and cleaning. Other activities are too numerous to mention, but include mulching, thinning, pruning, digging, harvesting, staking, and planting vegetables. Some care of chickens may also be required. Occasional jobs might include maintenance such as painting, cutting wood or delivering orders.

Minimum qualifications: Work sometimes must proceed regardless of weather conditions. Candidates should be able to work in cold, wet or hot conditions. Being physically fit is necessary as work can often be fast-paced for long periods of time. Ability to lift 50 or more pounds.

Skills desired: Skills desired are punctuality, reliability, basic plant biology, ability to understand and become proficient in complex tasks, attention to detail, the ability to communicate, the ability to think ahead and anticipate problems and make adjustments when necessary, the ability to understand the larger rational behind specific tasks, the ability to work independently for long periods, self-starting.

Start Date (approx): April 10, 2014

End Date (approx): November, 15, 2014

Contact: Rick Hartmann by phone (515) 677-2438 or email [email protected]


Facebook: None

Available Herman, Ryan – Hermans Heartland Farm New Albin Beef cow/calf, Beef yearling grazing, Custom beef grazing, Sheep Allamakee

Herman, Ryan – Hermans Heartland Farm

Farm and Location: Hermans Heartland Farm, New Albin, IA (122 miles northeast of Waterloo)

Experience: Holistic Planned Grazing (rotational grazing), Certified Natural, Grass-Finished. Grazing livestock on pastures. Farm manages these livestock enterprises: Beef cow/calf, Beef yearling grazing, Custom beef grazing, Sheep. In the past 11 years I have been working mostly with my father. I have hired three people over the years, on a seasonal basis, to help with large fencing projects or in times of greater labor needs. Working with dad and going through the farm transition process has allowed me to practice my communication skills. Over the years we have had monthly whole family meetings, weekly farm meetings on Monday mornings and the daily recap/review meeting. All of this has developed my use of goal-oriented, outcome-based business management.

Description: In the past I have sold corn into commodity markets. I have sold beef in auction barns, to other farmers, to grass finished beef companies and "on the hoof" to customers who had it processed at our local butcher shop. I have been a partner in a grass finished beef company which sold into wholesale, retail and restaurants. My father is currently an investor and board member in a niche product processing plant for beef that is going to start in 2014. Trainee will gain insight into this portion of the business too. I have sold lambs to a wholesale market company. I have sold "grazing services" to state and federal government agencies. I have sold custom grazing services to cattle owners.

Job Title: Grazing Trainee

Terms, Hours, Status: 40+ hours per week, starting at $8.00 per hour (commensurate with experience)

Other benefits: Hamburger, eggmobile for use, area for a garden, land available for development for your own grazing enterprise, fence equipment use.

Work activities on the farm: Mostly rotating cattle (cow/calf herd, yearling herd, flock of sheep). Using polywires and ATV. Permanent electric fence building and repair. Possibly tagging new baby calves. Animal handling, chute or corral work of both beef and sheep. Grass, soil, and animal monitoring. Filling out paperwork involved with operating a planned grazing system. Some tractor driving possible.

Minimum qualifications: You will need to be able to work outside in many weather conditions including heat, humidity, rain (not lightning), mud, sleet, snow and wind. You will need to be able to lift a 50 lb bag of mineral. You will need a valid driver’s license. You will need to be able to swing a hammer (rubber mallet) to install temporary fiberglass posts for temporary fencing (no shoulder problems).

Skills desired: You are not required to have ATV driving experience but it would be helpful. You will need to have a humble demeanor when times call for it and patience when working with animals. Problem solving skills are helpful. Some experience with large livestock (like beef) will be helpful but not necessary.

Start Date (approx): April 1, 2014

End Date (approx): September 30, 2014

Contact: Ryan Herman at [email protected]

Website: None

Facebook: None

Available Jutz, Susan - ZJ Farms Solon Fruits and Vegetables, seed Garlic, grass-fed Sheep Johnson

Jutz, Susan - ZJ Farms

Farm and Location: ZJ Farms, Solon, IA (12 miles north of Iowa City, IA)

Experience: Susan Jutz has farmed for 20 years (L4L Trainer in 2013)

Description: My current top priority in farming career is to encourage and work with people of all ages interested in farming to have that opportunity. I have mentored many young and beginning farmers over the years and enjoy the experience of doing so. Experience as a mentor with Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Savings Incentive Program, WFAN’s Harvesting Our Potential program, and The Farming Institute. I grow vegetables for a three season CSA 120 member spring CSA share, 150 member summer CSA share, and 120 member fall CSA share. We market garlic for seed and restaurant use and have recently sold some lettuce for special events. I rotationally graze a 30 ewe flock. I finish lambs and market directly to individual families and Iowa City restaurants. Susan was awarded the Sustainable Agriculture Achievement award by Practical Farmers of Iowa in 2014.

Job Title: Farm worker

Terms, Hours, Status: Variable (from full-time to part-time) hourly employee at pay rate $8.00 per hour commensurate with experience

Start Date (approx): Flexible

End Date (approx): Flexible

Other benefits: None

On-farm Housing: Not available

Work Activities: The primary responsibilities include planting, weeding, harvesting, washing and packing vegetables and serving as crew leader for some of these activities. Minor responsibilities are too numerous and diverse to list and might include greenhouse work, sheep chores, and CSA deliveries.

Minimum qualifications: Strong desire to learn, stamina and positive attitude toward working long hours in variable weather conditions, ability to function as part of a team as well as motivated to work independently, transportation and motivation to get to work on time and perform at optimal level.

Skills desired: Most important are a desire and willingness to learn and an understanding that the kind of farming we do is hard work.

Contact: Susan Jutz by email [email protected]


Facebook: none

Filled Nisly, James – Organic Greens Kalona Mini greens, micro greens, asparagus, cabbage and sweet potatoes Washington

Nisly, James – Organic Greens

Farm and Location: Organic Greens, Kalona, IA (19 miles southwest of Iowa City)

Experience: I have 20 years of experience growing mini greens, micro greens and a variety of market garden vegetables including asparagus, cabbage and sweet potatoes. I have been an employer for 18 years. I currently have between 7 and 12 part time employees.

Description: Certified organic horticulture farm provides fresh produce (including mini greens, micro greens, wheat grass, asparagus, cabbage and sweet potatoes) for wholesale primarily to grocery stores, restaurants and institutions within 150 mile radius.

Job Title: Production and Harvest Labor

Terms, Hours, Status: Variable hours up to full-time. Starting wage is paid hourly at the rate of $9.00 for first 30 days. After that, wage will be commensurate with work habits.

Other benefits: None

On-farm Housing: Not available

Work Activities: A large variety of activities including planting, care, harvest, wash and package of mini greens and micro greens and market garden crops. Planting and incorporating cover crops. Delivering products to customers. Will try to match work activities with your interests. Not all activities will be required.

Minimum qualifications: Able to work outside in all weather, stand for long periods of time, lift at least 70 lbs., possess a valid driver's license with clean driving record, able to work weekends.

Skills desired: Basic horticulture experience, self motivation and a strong desire to learn.

Start Date (approx): Immediately

End Date (approx): December

Contact: James Nisly at [email protected] or (319) 656-3885

Website: None


Available Sessions, Erik - Patchwork Green Farm Decorah Although not certified, we grow our crops of fruits, vegetables and cut flowers using organic practices Winneshiek

Sessions, Erik – Patchwork Green Farm

Farm and Location: Patchwork Green Farm, Decorah, IA (78 miles north – northeast of Waterloo)

Experience: Patchwork Green Farm is an established business in our community (Erik has 15 years experience in farming), with a wide range of growing practices, vegetables and markets. We have hired a small garden crew for a number of years now, and we pride ourselves in offering our crew diverse working experiences, mastering many skills and the opportunity to ask us any farming question under the sun, all while working hard and producing high-quality food. We are very open with our employees about all aspects of our business, and it helps motivate them in their work here, as well as give them a realistic sense of the produce business.

Description: We grow a wide variety of vegetables and herbs and a few cut flowers. We market all of our products in Decorah (5 miles from our farm). We have a traditional CSA program, as well as a thriving market share CSA program. We attend the twice-weekly market in Decorah from June through October. We also make weekly or bi-weekly deliveries to two restaurants and the local food coop grocery store, and work occasionally with caterers, the local college and other special events.

Job Title: Garden Crew Employee

Terms, Hours, Status: Variable hourly employee fixed pay rate of $9.00 per hour

Other benefits: Produce

On-farm Housing: Not available

Work Activities: We try to do a variety of tasks each day and each week. They will include: transplanting, weeding, trellising, watering, harvesting, washing, packaging, some delivery and market selling if interested.

Minimum qualifications: Appropriate footwear, clothing and gloves for all seasons; a strong back and ability to lift 50# repeatedly, a vehicle to get to work (often carpooling with other employees).

Skills desired: We appreciate employees with lots of questions/curiosity about the work we are doing. We also appreciate people who are quick with their hands, efficient in their work, and are observant enough to learn from others' example. A positive attitude and a willingness to work hard are the only prerequisites!

Start Date (approx): April 15, 2014 (flexible)

End Date (approx): October 31, 2014 (flexible)

Contact: Erik Sessions at [email protected] by phone (563) 387-0837 or by post: 3031 Middle Hesper Rd, Decorah, IA 52101


Facebook: None

Filled Shriver, Scott – Shriver Farms Jefferson Certified Organic rowcrops (corn, soybeans), alfalfa hay and small grains (wheat, buckwheat) Greene

Shriver, Scott – Shriver Farms

Farm and Location: Shriver Farms, Jefferson, IA (64 miles northeast of Des Moines)

Experience: My experience and my staff's experience in organic grain/row crop farming would be invaluable for a young person wanting to learn about all the aspects needed to be successful in their own operation. In the 20 years that I have been farming I have hired and worked with about 10 -15 employees. A few of those have been long term, full time employees that have enjoyed working with me as much as I have enjoyed working with them. I believe that an employee relationship has to mutually beneficial to both parties to be successful. An employer must provide a working environment that fulfills an employee’s needs in addition to just financial compensation.

Description: Row crops and small grains, 1,800 acres of crop production. Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, alfalfa, buckwheat raised for the organic markets.

Job Title: Farm Worker

Terms, Hours, Status: Full-time hourly employee starting at $12.00 per hour commensurate with experience.

Other benefits: None

On-farm Housing: Yes, Either farm house in the country or an apartment in Jefferson may be available. Compensation may be adjusted accordingly.

Work Activities: Equipment maintenance and make ready for field operations. Work includes: tending to planter operations, cultivating crops, scouting fields, picking up rocks, pulling weeds and assisting with the harvest of crops. Many other operations as needed for any farm operation such as ours.

Minimum qualifications: Must be able to work long hours, lift at least 75 lbs, possess a valid driver's license (CDL a plus),

Skills desired: The most important skill to possess is an eager desire to learn about organic farming. Past farming experience including operating large farm equipment also required.

Start Date (approx): May 1

End Date (approx): November 1

Contact: Scott Shriver at [email protected]

Website: None

Facebook: None

Available Wesselius, John - The Cornucopia Sioux Center Certified Naturally Grown horticulture, pastured poultry, and some outdoor pigs Sioux

Wesselius, John – The Cornucopia

Farm and Location: The Cornucopia, Sioux Center, IA (45 miles north of Sioux City)

Experience: 9 years growing Certified Naturally Grown produce and pastured poultry. I would be a good mentor because I have passion, experience, and determination. I have had college students visit on field trips, spend a semester working with me for 10 hours a week for college credit and I have employed about six students per summer for six summers with good employee retention year after year. I would like to encourage more people to do what I do so they can help the consumer change their buying habits so we as organic food producers can help everyone be better stewards of our world.

Description: Most of our three acres of produce is sold through farmers markets (3) and our CSA (about 60 shares). Our chicken is sold at farmers markets but that may change as we work to find an “inspected processor.” Our pigs are sold by the cut at market as a teaser to pick-up animals by the half. Most pigs are sold by halves and not by the cut.

Job Title: Farm worker

Terms, Hours, Status: 40+ hours full-time hourly at the pay rate of $7.25 to $8.00 commensurate with experience.

Other benefits: None

On-farm Housing: Yes, possibly for the right person or something local might be available with one of the current crew members (we live near a college).

Work Activities: Seeding, planting, weeding, feeding (foliar), harvesting, cleaning and packing, and perhaps some marketing depending on the applicant’s strengths. In the past we tend to begin at about 7:00 a.m. and finish by 4:00 p.m. four to five days per week depending on the time of season. Most activities are manual labor.

Minimum qualifications: Able to work outside in all weather, lift 50 pounds, stand or bend for long periods of time

Skills desired: Common sense, listening, consistency, quality, interest in learning and improving

Start Date (approx): Flexible

End Date (approx): Flexible

Contact: John Wesselius by email: [email protected]