Stepping Stone Internship

SAGE NSW Inc. (SAGE) is a not-for-profit, community based organisation whose mission is to create and support a NSW South Coast sustainable, fair food economy.

SAGE has been running an intern training program at their Queen Street, Moruya, property for over six years. The long term goal was to take this training program to another level on a larger property with a paid mentor and upwards of six students.

Early in 2020 this ambitious and wide-reaching project ‘Stepping Stone Farm’ became a reality. SAGE was able to secure a 10 year lease on a property 8 kms west of Moruya. The challenge is to turn 5 acres of Kikuyu paddock into a successful, commercial market garden producing not only nutritionally dense, organically grown vegetables but also well trained farmers.

At this stage the field is fenced, the main irrigation line installed and there is an office/teaching space, tool shed and washing and packing area completed.

Close to 1 acre (4000 square metres) has been cultivated and planting has started. Initial sales of seedlings and microgreens has allowed us to start marketing in anticipation of large volumes of fresh produce by the end of the year. We started slowly and conservatively by hiring Joyce Wilkie, a farmer and educator with more than 35 years’ experience, as mentor/farm manager. Two enthusiastic and hardworking interns joined the farm in October, and we are ready to recruit a few more aspiring market gardeners.

The educational program

The training is immersive and comprehensive. Interns can expect to learn all aspects of running a successful commercial market garden including planning, preparation, production, sales, distribution and using adaptive farming practices. Most of the learning outcomes take place on the job but time is set aside every week for more formal training.

Internships are offered free with no fees, full time (35 hours a week) with some flexibility to allow students to work part time in paid employment if necessary. Wages or other payments are not offered to interns in the program. Interns are expected to support themselves financially for the 12-month program and have reliable transport to and from the training farm. They will need to organise their own accommodation, but we are endeavouring to find cheap, suitable options.

Requirements

Applicants should ideally have some farming, gardening, or relevant experience and be aiming to establish or work in a commercial market garden business at the end of the program. You must be able to work in Australia, speak English, and have literacy skills necessary to study, communicate and operate a business. You should also be physically fit and able to do manual farm work.

Applications must include a resume with your personal details, references and a covering letter addressing why you believe you would be a suitable applicant. Also include relevant work or life experience, any relevant future plans and how you would support yourself during the 12-month program. You may be asked to agree to a police check prior to engagement.

Applications are now open. Please email applications and any enquiries to manager@steppingstonefarm.com.au

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