Published Mar 26, 2018

Grinnell-area farm providing on-farm training opportunity for an aspiring farmer

By Tamsyn Jones

For Release: March 26, 2018


Steve Carlson | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |

GRINNELL, Iowa – Andrew and Melissa Dunham of Grinnell Heritage Farm are seeking to hire an employee for the coming growing season, and are willing to provide the right candidate with additional training on topics important for running a farm business.

The Dunham’s are among 14 experienced farmers from around the state who have committed to hire an employee through Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Labor4Learning program. Each Labor4Learning trainer farm was approved by a committee of Practical Farmers members to serve as qualified teachers.

Andrew and Melissa operate a diversified farm with a primary enterprise of vegetables, but also grow select fruits, chestnuts, beef cattle, hay and poultry.  They are certified organic, grass-finish the cattle, use cover crops and practice extended rotations. Their produce supplies a 250-member CSA serving Grinnell, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines, as well as select grocery stores, restaurants and farmers markets.

“We participate in Labor4Learning because the best way for an aspiring farmer to find out if farming is a career they want to pursue is to work for an experienced farmer,” Andy says.

The job opening at Grinnell Heritage Farm is full-time starting in May. The work includes any and all activities on a busy produce farm, including planting, transplanting, harvest, post-harvest handling, washing, packing, lifting, moving, delivering, and storing plants and produce.

Full job details, dates and information on how to contact Grinnell Heritage Farm to apply can be found at To qualify as a trainee, the applicant must have a strong desire to learn; apply to and be hired by a trainer farm; and become a member of Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Having sufficient on-farm work experience is vital to the success of new farmers just starting on their own. Most on-farm employment opportunities, however, are limited in scope and don’t expose employees to the full range of skills needed to be successful.

Now entering its sixth year, Practical Farmers’ Labor4Learning program helps fill this need by connecting aspiring farmers seeking paid on-farm training with experienced farmers looking for eager employees.

In addition to their normal job responsibilities, those in the program receive training on topics such as record keeping, marketing and other skills important for running a farm business. At the start of employment, the trainer and trainee agree on a set of learning outcomes to address during the course of employment, beyond the normal job-related work activities.


Practical Farmers of Iowa works to equip farmers to build resilient farms and communities. Our values include: welcoming everyone; farmers leading the exchange of experience and knowledge; curiosity, creativity, collaboration and community; resilient farms now and for future generations; and stewardship of land and resources. To learn more, visit