Watch as Farmers Grow

Stewardship Guild Mission

January 8th, 2011 | Posted by miker in Administration | Training - (Comments Off on Stewardship Guild Mission)

Stewardship Guild

Established 2006


The Goals of the Stewardship Guild are:

  • To define and test concepts of Stewardship
  • To define and promote stewardship of Valuable Resources
  • To train individuals in Stewardship practices
  • To support Stewardship Activities


  • Active involvement in basic community affairs with the intent to identify valuable resources and promote strategies to foster regenerative management of them.
  • Current Project: North Slope Farm is a fifty acre property located in Central Western New Jersey.  There is intensive pressure on land owners to utilize their development rights or lose them.  There are multiple pressures that discourage investment in sound land management practices, (cost w/o market value, and municipal/State imminent domain seizures).  The challenge is how much to invest in agriculture in an economic and cultural environment that does not support it?  How to direct resources into a project that might not yield cash return but could achieve stewardship of valuable resources.  In this case,  the valuable resources include; worker housing, property rights, small scale business enterprises, public access to government process and community development.

Valuable Resources:

  • Resources, existing or potential, that are valuable, as defined by their function, accessibility and future projections.

Training in Stewardship Practices:

  • The guild will focus on identifying and promoting opportunities for individuals and groups to participate in Stewardship Activities.
  • See training opportunities at North Slope Farm.

Stewardship Activities:

  • Activities that promote and foster regenerative management of valuable resources.

Position Descriptions – 2011

January 4th, 2011 | Posted by miker in Training - (Comments Off on Position Descriptions – 2011)

Position Descriptions – 1/2011, MikeR

North Slope Farm

Opportunities for the 2011 Season.

Please note, there are two categories of workers at North Slope Farm.

 1) Stewardship Guild – Trainee:

First Season:

  • Participation in, and Introductions to, core Farm Activities, as directed by Farm Manager.
  • Value: $3,000 (funded by, for 9 month season.
  • Minimum commitment “part-time,” at wages listed below (see Wage Laborer).
  • Personalized experiential focus, including consultations with Farm Manager.
  • Required to contribute to records of operation and postings on Website.

 Second Season:

  • Participation in core Farm Activities, at a rate of $8.50 per hour.
  • Regular record keeping, summary publication and Personal Focus.
  • Expectation of Focus on specific Farm Operations – ‘Element.’
  • ‘Element’:  Farm activities are broken down into specific elements, including;  administration, infrastructure, greenhouse, composting/waste management, equipment, planting, cropcare, harvesting, handling, marketing, special projects, etc..  You must chose an element to be responsible for, based on long term interests.  This will prepare you for the responsibilities of the third season.

 Third (final) Season:

  • Full responsibility for some element of farm activities.  A plan, including budget, timeline of activity and estimate of value of projected product/service should be presented to the Farm Manager before the end of proceeding season.  If the plan can be integrated into expected farm activities, you will be designated to execute the plan.
  • Compensation:  Compensation should be accounted for in the proposed budget for managing your element.  You will be responsible for budgeting your time.  Farm activities will rely on your fulfillment of your plan.  Individual contracts encouraged.
  • Non element compensation:  Time spent on other projects on the farm such as harvesting, planting, washing, marketing, will be compensated for at a rate of $9 per hour.
  • Successful Completion of Third Season will establish your eligibility for the highest rate of laborer pay; $10 per hour in future work, as well as active support in finding rewarding full time employment.

 2) Wage Laborer:

Starting wage:

  • No related experience: state minimum; $7.25 per hour.
  • Minimal related work experience (with references): $7.75 per hour.
  • Extensive agricultural experience (3 full seasons): $8.50 per hour.

Responsibilities and Basic Requirements:

  • Physical ability to manipulate buckets and crates up to 50 pounds.
  • Reliable adherence to pre agreed schedule.
  • Ability to handle tools responsibly and willingness to accept direction in their use and care.

Equipment – Special Focus

October 19th, 2010 | Posted by steven in Equipment | Training - (Comments Off on Equipment – Special Focus)

Equipment – Special Focus



       My focus this year was equipment. The first task I had was to make a list and identify every piece of equipment on the farm. My list will need to be modified and added to because as the season rolled on more equipment emerged out of overgrown grass and other equipment never worked in the first place. Troubleshooting was eminent from all of the challenges we had with equipment failure this year. In the beginning of the season our main work horse, the ATV, would no longer start. After checking loose cables, gas lines, and the spark plug we realized that there was a more serious problem going on. I checked the internet with the ATV’s make, year, and model and all signs pointed to a problem with the electronic motor start system. This was further backed up when a proper electrical test determined it needed a new starter system. The ATV spent over a month and half in the shop and we were left to improvise with the equipment we had working to spread compost, assist in planting, and move vegetables and materials around the farm. We were very happy when the ATV came back from the shop.

            I started the season with retrofitting a trailer top to a new chassis. This was a great exercise in simple metal work and structural design. Out of tube stock and bolts I was able to customize an attachment point that has held strong all season with a lot of use.  General maintenance started with locating and greasing zerks (nozzles that the grease gun attaches to) on all of the machines so they were ready for the field. A procedure was placed when operating all machinery that entailed checking the fuel, coolant, and oil levels. Even though we tried to do this before each use, the hectic frenzy of trying to get things done when time allows led to some mistakes. We ran out of gas in the field and towed the tractor in with MR’s Volvo to only realize the tractor needed gas. Gasoline was put in the Kubota mower instead of diesel, something that was done several times in the past years as well. For the most part machines were fixed and we made do with what was available.

 Here are some notes from the maintenance log:

 John Deer 2240: Hydraulic hose leaked and it seems to be because of the new fitting attachment. We put Teflon tape and liquid rubber that created a gasket to solve the problem.

 Maschio Rototiller: Gear box set to medium low. This caused the Ford 4600 to overheat after two passes of rototilling. We set the gearbox to low and the overheating has stopped.

 Bachtold Mower: Blade would not engage when the lever was pressed. Everything seemed to work mechanically. The nut at the bottom of the mower was tightened and allowed the blade to be engaged.

 Spring Hoe tires: After pulling the implement out of overgrown grass we discovered the tires were rotted. MR found a local dealer for new tires, but we lost valuable hours to get into the field before the rain began

       The reality of farming is that not everything works when you need it to. Also, farming is dependent on weather and field conditions so failed equipment can be very disruptive. This season I had the opportunity to use all of the field implements to turn new ground, which require minimal maintenance and a working tractor. I also was able to trouble shoot small engine machines, which are critical in bed preparation and field care. I have learned that we need to have a station that is organized and in a central location to fix our small machines and tractors.  We need to label our fuel clearly as well. Our hand tools we use in the field can also be reorganized for better care and clarity for potential newcomers. As the season slows down I am looking forward to placing some procedures in place dealing with equipment and finally doing the much needed oil change on all of the tractors.



September 28th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Planting - (Comments Off on Planting)


Planting is one of the most rewarding tasks at North Slope Farm.  It is a major step that takes the seedling from the Greenhouse element to the Crop Care element.  Many steps lead up to a successful planting, and then the job has just begun.  Cover those soil blocks you planters!!!


September 28th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Infrastructure - (Comments Off on Infrastructure)


Infrastructure is another element that is tied into all the others.  Nothing would happen without the infrastructure the 1. ties us all together and 2. allows us the energy and resources to feed production systems.  The time we all spend talking about how investments in Infrastructure can be designed to feed agricultural systems is what will lead to sustainable societies.


September 28th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Handling - (Comments Off on Handling)

Washing Intro

The difference between a fresh product and an excellent fresh product is Handling.  The niche that local agriculture can fill is to produce quality products close to the market, THEN handle them professionally and their customers will be back each week!  Here in lies the greatest challenge for small scale operations – washing, cooling, packaging and distribution.  To handle these issues professionally takes investment in infrastructure, expense that only pays off with large scale production.


September 28th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Greenhouse - (Comments Off on Greenhouse)

seedling greenhouse 4.2009

Greenhouses are here to stay, and in our urban state, it seems likely that the future will include a greater and greater percentage of production in controlled climates.  Detail oriented managers will find great success in the greenhouse.  It is definately less forgiving than the outside environment.  Our greenhouses provide us with the opportunity to produce our seedlings, provide winter shelter for livestock, increasingly we are looking to increase winter production and generally a nice place to be on a sunny December day!


September 28th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Equipment - (Comments Off on Equipment)


We have a number of tractors and small engine driven implements like a ‘walk behind’ mower and rototiller.  The second year of Training is when we introduce our workers to these power tools.  As workers develop their skill and interest they are encouraged to “be the one the gets the job done!”  Equipment at North Slope Farm has never been our greatest strength but we strive to provide trainees with multiple opportunities to experience the power, danger and effectiveness of the combustion engine and its ‘Power Take Off.”

Crop Care

September 28th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Crop Care - (Comments Off on Crop Care)


Crop Care is always on the Task List.  There is always some way we can care for our crops.  Weeding is one of those tasks that we hope to outgrow but still invest many worker hours, especially on closely spaced crops like carrots and salad mix.  This element also includes irrigation, trellising, mulching and pest control.


September 28th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Composting - (Comments Off on Compost)


Compost is a critical component of our Organic Management System.  We add compost to the soil to counterbalance the damage done to soil structure by tillage.  Our observation of soil structure at North Slope Farm is that even soil with an organic matter content of 5%, regularly tilled soil does not have strong bonds.  Our permanent raised beds have around 8% organic matter and they do show significantly improved soil structure despite regular tillage.