As the snow falls on Chewonki Neck, it’s hard to imagine that soon – mere months from now – seedlings will be ready for transplanting into gardens, baby animals not yet born will be heading out to pasture, and Chewonki alumni will be heading back to campus to work alongside our year-round farm crew as Summer Farm Workers. Each summer, we offer alumni of Chewonki programs the opportunity to return for two- to fourteen-week positions on the farm.
Here are six fabulous things about the Summer Farm Worker positions:
- We work. Hard. The farm crew works long, exhausting, productive, and delicious hours every day. We come to terms with muscles we didn’t know we had, fall asleep fast at day’s end, and do work that matters. We are collectively and individually lit up by the longest of our days as we feed hundreds of people each day.
- Summer farm workers help to integrate summer staff and participants into our work on the farm. Did you feel like you experienced some sort of magical or transformative experience as a student or participant within a Chewonki program? Imagine the opportunity to give back to this place as you harvest vegetables alongside nine-year-old campers or teach a teenager how to milk.
- Zucchini fritters, farm salad, farm veggie dumplings, pear upside down cake, kale and sausage soup, chocolate beet cake: Summer farm workers eat most of their meals in the dining hall, and anyone who has spent time on the Neck undoubtedly has a memory of a favorite culinary delight. Additionally, we also hold a weekly farm crew dinner in the Gatehouse, taking turns to prepare tasty farm-based meals. We share our “Highs, Lows, and Uh-Ohs” from the week and spend some downtime together after dinner, perhaps watching a movie in the hayloft of the barn or playing a game.
- Farming friends are the best friends. During the sixth straight hour of weeding and thinning carrot beds, we engage in absurd conversations and serious dialogue. Working and living alongside other Chewonki staff and alum-turned-staff is an incredible opportunity to lean into the deep connection between the head, heart, and hands.
- Farmers become skilled at answering questions like “Does it hurt the cow when I milk her?” (no!) and “Can I eat this?” (usually!). You’ll quickly become an expert, at least in the eyes of folks that don’t spend their days milking and cultivating.
- Sewell Pond. Strawberry picking. Locally-owned bookstores. Camden Hills. Gelato. The midcoast Maine community is teeming with places to explore and things to do during your off weekends and the evenings that you are feeling particularly energetic.
Here are a few words from past summer farm workers:
“These days, my hands are more to me than I ever thought they could be. My palms carry with them both life and death, giving way to more life and death again. From my hands come zucchini, broccoli, carrots and tat soi, basil, chard, snap peas and tomatoes, strawberries, asparagus, summer squash, parsley. The list goes on. I find solace in these cycles of life and death, strength in the intention of my actions, connection to the land through which I move and joy in the work of a long, hot day. It is this that I crave most in the world- solace, strength, connection, joy. At Chewonki, I have found it time and time again, and each discovery leaves me craving more.”
“I’m amazed by how much I’m learning every day here. Whether it is about the seasons, cows, seedlings, work ethic, myself, my experience has been nothing short of rich. Any initial hesitation about being a young staff member here faded.”
“Work is definitely different than it was when I was a semester student. Farm work does not simply end after two hours of splitting wood or an hour of farm chores in the afternoon. It is long, tiring, trying, but incredibly special work. Hay days left my fingers open and bloody. Harvesting leaves the fibers of my jeans stained with mud. Chores in the rain leave me sopping wet but feeling alive. I love the rawness of this work. Waking before the sun yawns. Tending and caring for life and then letting it go. Putting myself at the mercy of the weather. Exposing myself. Making mistakes. And continuing on.”
“I will always treasure the simple domesticity of the farm. On Salt Marsh Farm I discovered the joy of working with the whole of my body and the satisfaction of adding my energy into the soil beside the other wonderful farmers.”
Interested in applying for a Summer Farm Worker position? Check out the Chewonki Employment page for details about this and other ways that you can return to the Neck.