Published Mar 26, 2018

Hampton-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 |

HAMPTON, Iowa – Doug Alert and Margaret Smith of Ash Grove 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.

Alert and Smith 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.

Doug and Margaret raise certified organic corn and soybeans, as well as small grains, hay, beef cattle and sheep. They practice long-term crop rotations and use cover crops, managed grazing, ridge-till and no-till practices.

“We are a part of PFI’s Labor4Learning program both to advance our farm business and to help prepare an aspiring farmer to light out on her or his own in the future,” Margaret says. “We really enjoy the cross-fertilization of ideas generated by discussions with our energetic employees.”

The job opening at Ash Grove Farm is full-time with a preferred commitment for two years. Work activities include field work such as tillage, planting, weed control and harvesting; machinery maintenance; building repairs; helping to create field maps; cattle handling; and pasture management. The annual salary starts at $35,000 and also includes a stipend for health insurance, as well as a percentage of the calf crop each year.

Full job details, dates and information on how to contact Ash Grove 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