Labor4Learning Trainers 2024

Apply to Participate in Our Labor4Learning Program

The Labor4Learning program is designed for beginning farmers seeking employment and additional training in farm management and production skills. Practical Farmers of Iowa “trainer” farmers will be hiring in the early part of the new year for the upcoming growing season. Browse the list below for training opportunities near you.

How to Apply

To apply, send current resume and three work-related references directly to the trainer. Direct any questions about job details to the trainer as well.

For all other questions about the program or Practical Farmers of Iowa, please contact Rachel Burke (rachel.burke(at)practicalfarmers(dot)org or call our office at (515) 232-5661.

NameFarm NameTownJob TitleStatus
Parker BeardCanoe Creek DairyDecorahSeasonal Farm HandOpen
Hannah BreckbillHumble Hands HarvestDecorahSeasonal WorkerOpen
Naomi and Andrew FriendFriend’s FlowersStory CityFlower Farm AssistantFilled
Natasha Hegmann and Pete KernsTurkey River FarmElkportProduction AssistantOpen
Emma and Marcus JohnsonBuffalo Ridge OrchardCentral CityFarm Crew MemberOpen
Alice McGaryMustard Seed Community FarmAmesFarm ApprenticeOpen
Meredith NunnikhovenBarnswallow FlowersOskaloosaFarm AssistantFilled
Derek Roller and Molly SchintlerEchollective FarmMechanicsvilleField Crew MemberOpen
Mike SalamaSalama Greenhouse Inc.BooneAssistant GrowerOpen
Lee TesdellTesdell Century FarmSlaterFarm AssistantFilled
Matt VermeerschMud Ridge FarmCouncil BluffsGraizer/Ranch HandFilled
Donna WarhoverMorning Glory LLCMt. VernonFarm AssistantOpen

About Our Trainers

Parker Beard – Open

Canoe Creek Dairy – Decorah, Iowa

Experience: 11+ years

About the Farm: We are second-generation grass-fed dairy farmers. We raise around 140 cows on 600 acres of perennial pasture, hay and organic row crops. We are certified organic, and use managed intensive grazing. Our milk is sold to Organic Valley.

Job Title: Seasonal Farm Hand

Terms, Hours, Status: Pay rate is $12 per hour, or commensurate with experience. Hours are full-time.

Other Benefits: On-farm housing, free access to garden vegetables, freezers of meat, fresh milk

On-Farm Housing: There is a tiny house on the farm with access to running water, shower in close proximity and full kitchen.

Work Activities: Tasks include milking, moving, watering and feeding cows; helping with hay-making; clipping paddocks; fixing fences; and maintaining lanes and buildings.

Minimum Qualifications: Applicants should be able to lift 50 pounds and work independently after training, and have a driver’s license.

Skills Desired: The ideal candidate is attentive and eager to learn. Experience being around livestock, driving a manual transmission and using trailers is helpful.

Start Date: May 15 (approximately)

End Date: Aug. 15 (approximately)

Contact: Parker Beard at (607) 242-6214 or estherandparkerb@gmail.com

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Hannah Breckbill – Open

Hannah Breckbill is a 2020 L4L trainerHumble Hands Harvest – Decorah, Iowa

Website | Facebook

Experience: 8 years

About the Farm: We are a worker-owned cooperative, and we hire employees with the possibility of onboarding them into worker-ownership after two to three years of employment. We are always figuring out who we are as a farm and experimenting with new systems.

We raise certified organic vegetables, rotationally graze sheep and are adding perennial crops. Our produce is sold through our CSA, the farmers market in Decorah and through aggregators and distributors in northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota.

Job Title: Seasonal Worker

Terms, Hours, Status: Pay rate is $10-$12 per hour, commensurate with experience. Positions are open for full-time and part-time employees.

Other Benefits: All the vegetables you can eat or preserve, discounted meat and noon meals every work day.

On-Farm Housing: On-farm housing is a possibility – we currently have one room open in the farm house, which rents for $475 per month (utilities are covered). It’s a shared household. Living on the farm is not required but for the right fit, it will make the experience even better!

Work Activities: Work is primarily with plants, including but not limited to: planting, transplanting, harvesting, post-harvest handling, washing, packing, lifting, moving and delivering and storing plants and produce. Other work could include orchard maintenance and animal chores. The employee will work the farmers market booth a few times a month.

Minimum Qualifications: Previous vegetable farming experience is expected. We are looking for workers who already know that they like the work of growing food –  someone who has some of the skills to be able to run an operation like this one, and who knows that they don’t want to do it alone.

This job requires physical capacity to work in all weather, bend over, kneel, squat and lift 50 pounds (which might be a kicking sheep). We make every effort to have this work be sustainable for our bodies and minds, but farming is unpredictable and there will be times when we have to work through exhaustion.

An attention to detail is essential to vegetable farming, as is a larger vision of the whole process. For example, the detail work of greenhouse seeding needs to be accompanied by a curiosity and understanding of how the plants will be grown, harvested and marketed.

Skills Desired: A willingness to learn, and an interest in sticking around long-term.

Start Date: Mid-April (approximately)

End Date: October (approximately)

Contact: Hannah Breckbill, humblehandsharvest@gmail.com

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Naomi and Andrew Friend – Filled

FriendFriend’s Flowers – Story City, Iowa

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Experience: 6-10 years

About the Farm: We grow and sell cut flowers. From May-October we have continuous blooming of 75-plus varieties. We sell mixed and themed fresh-cut bouquets through the Ames Main Street Farmers market and offer arrangements for weddings and other special events. We are continuing with on-farm U-pick flowers while adding new markets such as wholesale to florists, and direct-to-consumer custom orders. We begin starting plugs inside in February, source plugs through other commercial growers and collaborate on large orders with other Iowa flower farms. We follow organic and sustainable farming practices

Job Title:  Flower Farm Assistant

Terms, Hours, Status: Pay rate is $15 per hour, or commensurate with experience; hours are 20 hours per week.

Other Benefits: A reasonable amount of free cut flowers each week.

On-Farm Housing: N/A

Work Activities: Activities include planting flower seeds and plugs, weeding, washing buckets, cutting and harvesting flowers, and arranging and delivering flower orders. Marketing activities include helping customers and arranging flowers at farmers markets. Occasionally, the trainee will help lead the market, deliver orders to florists and handle custom orders and customer service during U-pick hours.

Minimum Qualifications: Able to work outside in all weather, squat and kneel repeatedly for short periods and lift at least 50 pounds. Must possess a valid driver’s license. A good candidate will have experience driving a pick-up with trailer and sub-compact tractor and implements, or willingness to be trained for these skills. Previous floral or customer service experience is preferred. We require availability to work most Saturday mornings from May-October.

Start date:  Mid-April

End date: Mid-October

Contact: Naomi Friend at friendsflowers@outlook.com

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Natasha Hegmann and Pete Kerns – Open

Natasha Hegmann and Peter Kerns submitted by themTurkey River Farm – Elkport, Iowa

Website | Facebook

Experience: 6 years

About the Farm: We raise feeder-to-finish pigs on rotational pasture; pastured turkeys; vegetables for our 60-member CSA; and shiitake and oyster mushrooms for market. We also manage bedding plant production in our greenhouse.

Job Title: Production Assistant

Terms, Hours, Status: Pay rate is $10 per hour, or commensurate with experience. Part-time, 12-20 hours per week. Flexible scheduling.

Other Benefits: Vegetable seconds, pork and meals during work time (we usually cook lunch and eat together)

On-Farm Housing: Yes, we have a retreat center on site and can negotiate its use for short- or longer-term rental. We also have electricity and water access for an employee who would like to bring a travel trailer for seasonal housing.

Work Activities: All activities related to vegetable production in the field, greenhouse and high tunnel, including seed-starting, transplanting, bed preparation, weed control, pest control, mowing, harvest, post-harvest handling and CSA distribution. Additional activities related to livestock and mushroom production, as well as equipment maintenance.

Minimum Qualifications: Willingness to work outside in all weather condition and to work inside doing washing and bagging. Able to lift and carry at least 40 pounds. Access to transportation to and from the farm each day. Able to show up on time and consistently day to day and week to week. Able to communicate consistently with farm manager via phone, email, and/or text. Open to feedback, instruction and constructive criticism and friendly and helpful to other farm workers.

Skills Desired: This job is physical in nature and requires working in hot and cold conditions. Must be able to stand, squat and bend at the waist repeatedly and for long periods of time. This job may require operating small farm machines (ie. weed whacker, mower, pressure washer, walk-behind tractor) and must comply with all safety training and precautions. This includes using recommended personal protective equipment. Must be able to lift more than 40 pounds.

Start Date: April (approximately)

End Date: October (approx.)

Contact: Natasha Hegmann, natasha.hegmann@gmail.com

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Emma and Marcus Johnson – Open

Emma Marcus JohnsonBuffalo Ridge Orchard – Central City, Iowa

Website | Facebook

Experience: 12 years

About the Farm: We are a family-owned and -operated 80-acre diversified farm that grows herb plants, vegetables, apples, pears and row crops. We use organic practices for our vegetable crops and an integrated pest management system for our orchard. We have two moveable high tunnels for extending our growing season. The apple orchard is medium and high density and we grow over 50 different varieties of apples. We sell our produce through multiple farmers markets, direct wholesale and through our CSA. 2022 was the first year we also had a store on our farm to sell produce during the peak of apple season. We plan to continue operating our farmstore for 2023 and into the future.

Job Title: Farm Laborer

Terms, Hours, Status: Pay rate is $12 per hour, or commensurate with experience; hours are variable. We provide an end-of-the-season bonus to those who work through November. Winter work is available.

Other Benefits: A stipend of fresh produce from the farm.

On-Farm housing: N/A

Work Activities: Activities include planting young apple trees; hand-thinning fruits; planting vegetable starts; and installing trellising; weeding, washing and packing produce; completing required farm records; working farm markets; and processing apples.

Minimum Qualifications: Employees must be able to work outside in variable weather conditions, stand for long periods of time, lift at least 50 pounds, be at least 18 years old and possess a valid driver’s license.

Skills Desired: Tractor and equipment, horticultural and sales experience preferred

Start Date: May (approximately)

End Date: December (approximately)

Contact: Emma Johnson, buffaloridgeorchard@gmail.com or call (563) 340-9665

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Alice McGary – Open

McGaryMustard Seed Community Farm – Ames, Iowa

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Experience: 16 years

About the Farm: Mustard Seed Community Farm is an 11-acre, 16-year-old farm founded on a belief in ethical food production and distribution, ecological land use and community. Using organic and sustainable methods, we typically grow a variety of vegetables and fruits along with herbs and flowers, and prairie. The farm also keeps bees and small flocks of chickens and sheep.

Job Title: Farm Apprentice

Terms, Hours, Status: Pay rate is $15 per hour or commensurate with experience, and whether the worker is receiving room and board. Hours are flexible, but expect 25-40 hours per week.

Other Benefits: Food and housing

On-Farm Housing: Our housing is very simple. Workers are able to have separate sleeping quarters but all other living spaces are shared. We provide food but share chores of communal cooking and dishes. Wage is variable depending on whether the worker is living on or off farm, and their skill and experience level.

Work Activities: Work will be diverse and involved with all aspects of the farm. We would like our trainee to manage one enterprise of their choice. This person will also plant and handle annual and perennial crops; participate in decision-making meetings, record-keeping and on-farm research; and assist with livestock care and fencing. The trainee would also be involved with the farm’s community outreach and education efforts.

Minimum Qualifications: Able to work in all weather and lift 30 pounds, along with curiosity, a drive to learn and a desire to contribute to food sovereignty-based agriculture and social justice.

Skills Desired: Any of the following: annual or perennial horticultural skills; farm systems management experience; communication and community engagement; sheep and poultry; Spanish-language skills; big-picture organizational talent. This is an opportunity for a skilled person to manage one aspect of our farm, with mentorship, while learning new and diverse skills.

 Start Date: April (approximately)

 End Date: November (approximately; work for at least three consecutive months, flexible dates)

Contact: Alice McGary, mustardseedbee@gmail.com

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Meredith Nunnikhoven – Filled

NunnikhovenBarnswallow Flowers – Oskaloosa, Iowa

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Experience: 11+ years

About the Farm: Barnswallow Flowers is a female-owned farmer florist specializing in growing and designing with unique flowers using chemical-free and sustainable practices. Barnswallow grows chemical free on 2 acres at the farm homestead and serves a variety of local customers, from local citizens, funeral homes, retirement facilities and small businesses to local chefs, farm stores and retail outlets.

The fresh-cut flower operation grows hundreds of unique specimens yearly and caters to flower lovers either wanting bouquets or hosting celebratory events. A 6-acre organic chestnut plot was planted in 2020 and installed to further diversify and provide a nutritional product to southeast Iowa. The Barnswallow Cottage serves as a farm stay and is available for booking through AirBnb.

Job Title: Farm Assistant

Terms, Hours, Status: Pay rate is $10 per hour, or commensurate with experience; hours are part-time and variable.

Other Benefits: N/A

On-Farm Housing: N/A

Work Activities: The work changes seasonally. Spring time is for starting seeds, laying tarp, installing irrigation and planting. Summer is for maintaining the crop through pruning, harvesting and weeding. On a weekly basis we harvest and arrange for orders and retail commitments. After frost we remove the crop and till.

Minimum Qualifications: Employees must be able to work outside in weather elements; stand, sit and squat for long periods of time; lift at least 50 pounds; and possess a valid driver’s license.

Start Date: April

End Date: October

Contact: Meredith Nunnikhoven, barnswallowflowers@gmail.com or (641) 670-5238

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Derek Roller and Molly Schintler – Open

Derek Roller and Molly SchintlerEchollective Farm – Mechanicsville, Iowa

Website | Facebook

Experience: 20+ years

About the Farm: Echollective Farm’s mission is: “Together with our Iowa Community, Echollective Farm grows food to nourish people and the planet.” Although we no longer certify organic, we grow well over 100-plus varieties of vegetables, herbs, flowers, mushrooms and seed garlic on 15-plus acres each year using organic, sustainable practices.

We use cover crops, intercropping techniques and hoop houses for season extension in our operation. Our markets include a 180-member CSA; seed garlic sales across the northern United States; and wholesale produce sales to local grocery stores, area restaurants and a food hub. In past seasons, we have had a small flock of chickens for personal egg production and have raised pigs for ourselves.

Job Title: Field Crew Member

Terms, Hours, Status: $12-$15 per hour, commensurate with experience and performance; hours are variable – full-time and part-time availability

Other Benefits: Free veggies

On-Farm Housing: Possibly

Work Activities: The season begins in the spring with greenhouse work. Field crew members learn seed-starting techniques and work in the hoop houses prepping beds for early crops. In summer, the vast majority of our time is spent in the field transplanting, weeding and harvesting. The field crew member will learn how to use a variety of tools to effectively control weeds. Once harvest season is in full swing, we are picking almost every morning. Everyone will learn how to harvest each crop and will work in the washroom to prep produce for market. If there is interest, a field crew member can help at a farmers market to learn aspects of selling vegetables at a market (as well as our CSA). In the fall, we continue with our weekly harvests for market in the field and hoop houses, along with bringing in all the storage crops.

Minimum Qualifications: Strong commitment and effort is required, and solid time management skills are essential. Additional requirements include the ability to lift at least 50 pounds, perform tasks outside in all weather conditions and contribute positively to the team and as part of a collaborative environment. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or green card holders. Echollective Farm is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of our community and strongly encourages candidates from diverse backgrounds to apply.

Skills Desired: Prior experience with farming and/or food related jobs is a plus.

Start Date: March (approximately)

End Date: November (approximately)

Contact: Molly Schintler, echocsa@gmail.com

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Mike Salama – Open

Mike Salama in Salama Greenhouse and Floral e1583965087511 (1)Salama Greenhouse Inc. – Boone, Iowa

Website | Facebook

Experience: 8 years

About the Farm: We grow ornamentals, bedding plants, cut flowers, potted annuals, perennials, hydroponic tomatoes, basil and winter greens. Everything is under cover, greenhouse grown, with a hydroponic system in place for vegetables. Flowers and plants are sold via in-house retail, and vegetables are sold wholesale to grocery stores, restaurants and institutions.

Job Title: Assistant Grower

Terms, Hours, Status: Pay rate is $12 per hour, commensurate with experience; hours are part-time at 20 per week.

Other Benefits: N/A

On-Farm Housing: N/A

Work Activities: Seeding, planting, watering, pruning, harvesting, packing and moving plants

Minimum Qualifications: Must be able to stand for long periods of time, dress for all weather conditions, lift at least 50 pounds and have a valid driver’s license.

Skills Desired: Horticulture, greenhouse, flower shop, retail or veggie production experience preferred.

Start Date: March 1 (approximately)

End Date: Sept. 30 (approximately)

Contact: Mike Salama, salama.mike@gmail.com

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Lee Tesdell standing next to a llama on his farm. Lee Tesdell – Filled

Tesdell Century Farm – Slater, Iowa

Experience: I have 42 years of experience as a professor and mentor.

About the Farm: I raise lamb and garlic for sale at Iowa Food Cooperative. I also sell lamb directly to consumers. I have 5 acres of alfalfa and 7 acres of Kernza. I rent 50 acres of row crop ground to a neighbor for corn-soy rotation. I am also in charge of the cover cropping on my row crop acres.

Job Title: Farm Assistant

Terms, Hours, Status: Variable hours; $15 per hour, or commensurate with experience

Other Benefits: Access to produce and lamb

On-Farm Housing: None

Work Activities: Helping with the sheep flock: record-keeping; checking lamb health; helping with weaning; helping with haying; vegetable gardening; garlic harvest; checking prairie strip growth and identifying species in the prairie; running errands to the co-op for feed; and managing saturated buffers

Minimum Qualifications: A past history of working on a farm, a driver’s license and a willingness to learn

Skills Desired: Machinery and digital record-keeping skills. Must be able to lift at least 50 pounds and be comfortable working in all weather conditions.

Start Date:

End Date:

Contact: Lee Tesdell at lee.tesdell@gmail.com

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Matt Vermeersch – Filled

VermeerschMud Ridge Ranch – Council Bluffs, Iowa

Website | Facebook

Experience: 6 Years

About the Farm: We operate a 50-head Scottish Highland cattle herd, along with around 200-250 sheep and goats. We offer direct-to-consumer grass-fed beef, and pasture-raised poultry. We also offer breeding stock for sale. The sheep and goats are used to provide targeted grazing services (brush management) to private landowners, farmers, cities, county parks and state parks across nine counties in southwest Iowa.

We use rotational grazing and graze both annual cover crop mixes and perennial pastures. Our intention is to be as regenerative as possible. Beef and poultry are sold directly to doorsteps across the U.S. from our website, and breeding stock is sold privately through social channels.

Job Title: Grazier/Ranch Hand

Terms, Hours, Status: Pay rate is $12 per hour, or commensurate with experience; hours are full-time and variable.

Other Benefits: None

On-Farm Housing: No

Work Activities: Activities include rotating cows; loading and moving cows; installing hot wire and electronet fencing; checking, loading and moving goats; helping with calving, kidding, lambing and animal socialization; halter-breaking; fence installation and maintenance; baling activities; pasture restoration; and row crop-to-pasture conversion.

Minimum Qualifications: Must be able to work outside in all weather, move through rough terrain, lift at least 50 pounds, possess a valid driver’s license, have a strong work ethic and problem-solving skills and be open-minded and willing to learn. Livestock experience is desired.

Start Date: June 1

End Date: Sept. 1

Contact: Matt Vermeersch, mattvermee@gmail.com or (712) 292-1230

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Donna Warhover – Open

Donna WarhoverMorning Glory Farm & Event Venue – Mt Vernon, Iowa

Website | Facebook

Experience: 11 years

About the Farm: We raise vegetables and herbs for our CSA, restaurants, chefs and college food service. Though not certified, we practice organic production and use cover crops in our crop rotation. We host community throughout the year.

Job Title: Farm Assistant

Terms, Hours, Status: Pay rate is $12 per hour; hours are part-time and variable.

Other Benefits: Workers comp insurance; fruits and vegetables available; and connection to larger farming and local food community.

On-Farm Housing: N/A

Work Activities: Activities include seed planting; greenhouse management; high tunnel planting and management; field planting (transplants, direct seed); organic pest management; irrigation management; weed management (tractor cultivation and manually); harvesting and processing for CSA, markets and other sales; preparing for and hosting students, visitors and community events; working with volunteers; and distributing CSA shares.

Minimum Qualifications: Must be able to work outside in all weather, stand for long periods of time, lift at least 50 pounds, possess a valid driver’s license, have strong work ethic, be able work in a fast-paced environment, have a commitment to local foods movement and adhere to Morning Glory’s vision.

Start Date: March (approximately)

End Date: October (approximately)

Contact: Donna Warhover, morningglorycommunity@gmail.com

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