Who's Who and What's What

Dan Kaplan
Dan is our farm manager who is responsible for all aspects of managing Brookfield Farm including the apprenticeship program. The Farm Manager is responsible for the program content, administration of the program, hiring and firing, apprenticeship contracts, evaluations, as well as career development. The Farm Manager is accountable to the board of directors of the BFCT (see below). Dan Kaplan is also the General Manager of the BFCT and a board member (ex-officio - i.e. non-voting).

Karen Romanowski
Karen is married to Dan and they have managed farms together for the last 19 years. She is a registered nurse and works off the farm sometimes, cooks a farm lunch for the farm crew every workday, and sometimes replaces Dan in the field for a change of pace for both of them.

Brookfield Farm Assistant Manager
Brookfield Farm hires an assistant manager every season to help Dan manage the day-to-day aspects of running the farm. The assistant manager will work closely with apprentices and be responsible for some skill training during the season. The assistant manager for 2014 is Zoe Abram.

Brookfield Farm

Brookfield Farm is a project of the BFCT. It is not a "legal entity" but rather a DBA ("doing business as") for the BFCT (legally Brookfield Farm owns nothing, hires no one, and is fully managed by the BFCT).

Biodynamic Farmland Conservation Trust, Inc. (BFCT)

This is the organization that owns the farm property and equipment, manages the apprentice program, and is our employer. The BFCT is a non-profit, 501(c)3 corporation, and it managed by a board of directors. Dan Kaplan is the general manager of the BFCT and an "ex-officio" board member. Peter Littell is the President of the board of the BFCT. All board meetings are open to the public.

Apprenticeship Program

Our program is a hands-on working/learning experience designed to move dedicated candidates towards farm management. We take people from all backgrounds; from inexperienced city folks looking to explore agriculture as a career option to experienced farmers looking for a new approach agriculture. As such, each apprenticeship will have different challenges and take on a different character.

Apprenticeship Contract

We will tailor each experience to the expressed needs of each participant. It is essential that participants make their needs clear and well known before we write an apprenticeship contract during the hiring process. The contract will contain our (farmer and apprentice) expectations for learning as well as benefits and expectations for labor. This contract will be updated during the program orientation and periodic evaluations

Orientation

During the first week of the apprenticeship we will conduct an orientation for all participants. At this orientation we will go over safety policies, farm policies, and location and names of buildings and equipment. We will individually review each apprenticeship contract and update them as necessary. We will also begin to set vacation times, assign tractor responsibilities, shopkeeper responsibilities, the Boston driving schedule, and start figuring out how to have a good time together.

Study Materials

All apprentices are given written learning materials throughout their apprenticeship. These materials include crop plans, seed orders, planting schedules, maps, budgets, overall farm plans, and various other supporting materials. In addition there is a small farm library from which apprentices are welcome to borrow books.

CRAFT Program

Brookfield Farm is an active participant and one of the founders of the Northeast CRAFT Program . All apprentices are encouraged to take part in all CRAFT program events during the season.

Career Development

Throughout the apprenticeship, participants are encouraged to develop future plans for their own farm projects. It is considered a part of your apprenticeship, if you desire, for the Farm Manager to review & critique these plans. In addition, all possible steps will be taken by the Farm Manager to help apprentices find job placement or further opportunities if so desired. Future mentoring & consultation for all apprentices is considered part of the package.

Responsibilities

Regular Work Schedule

Monday through Friday: 6-7am, 8am-12pm, 1-5pm

Saturday: 6-7am, 8am-noon

General Work

The apprenticeship is, at its core, a working-learning experience. Our primary method for teaching how to manage a farm is by giving you skills and having you perform tasks within our farm system. Apprentices are given an overall task list each week on Monday morning and specific tasks are then assigned by the Farm Manager throughout the week. All assignments are made with the needs of the farm and the specific stated needs of apprentices in mind.

Chores

Apprentices are on a rotating chore schedule for the greenhouse, livestock, and lunch clean up. One week out of every three each apprentice is the chore person and responsible for:

  • watering the greenhouse during the week (during work time) and on the weekend as well. (If you are at a CRAFT meeting the farm manager will take care of midday
  • for helping Karen, Dan, and Kerry to set up & clean-up lunch at the farmhouse. The kitchen needs to be fully cleaned up by 12:50
  • making sure the cows have water, feeding & watering the pigs and chickens, and looking in on the livestock at least once per day. The grazing will be managed as part of the general work day. (If you are going to the CRAFT meeting, you will need to do livestock chores first.)

Shopkeeper

The farm shop is open at hours that conflict with the regular work schedule. During our orientation, each apprentice will be assigned responsibility for one consistent shop time. The people who work on Tuesday and Thursday will need to work until 7:30 pm. The person who works on Saturday will work until 2 pm. Each person will be allowed comp time to make up for this responsibility. This comp time will need to be taken on the following afternoon (i.e. Tuesday person leaves on Wednesday at 2:30 pm, Thursday person leaves on Friday at 2:30 pm, and Saturday person leaves on Monday at 2:30 pm).

CRAFT Program Events

All apprentices are encouraged to take part in all CRAFT program events during the season. They happen during regular work times (Saturday mornings or Monday afternoons) and if you attend, there is no need to make up the work time. If you do attend the events you are expected to come to work at 6am on Saturday to help with chores, set up the farm shop, and pick corn. If you do not attend the event, you are expected to come to work on Saturday mornings for the usual schedule. Apprentices need to use their own vehicles to attend the CRAFT program events. The program will compensate for the travel at .40c/mi. It is not a requirement to attend the CRAFT program events.

Boston Driver

One apprentice each week will drive the vegetables to Boston. Each apprentice can be the Boston Driver, if they desire, but not for less than two months at a time.

Tractor Operation

Every apprentice will be trained in the safe use and maintenance of two farm tractors. The tractor assignments will be made during the program orientation. All attempts will be made to let each apprentice do all of the jobs on "their" tractors during the season so they can learn the jobs thoroughly. In this way apprentices are given the opportunity to learn general tractor skills by focusing on two tractors while at the same time minimizing training needs and repair costs.

Compensation

Stipend

A stipend of $750 is paid to each first-year apprentice. Stipends are paid on the 15th of each month. A tax withholding is taken out of this stipend. Stipends will be set year-to-year by the General Manager and approved by the Board of Directors.

Worker's Compensation

All apprentices are covered by workers compensation and covered (with certain legal limitations) for all work-related injuries.

Health Insurance

All apprentices will be eligible to purchase insurance through the Mass Health Connector. Apprentices may elect to keep their current insurance. In either case, they will be compensated $100/mo towards health insurance premiums.

Lunch at the Farmhouse

Monday through Friday there is a prepared lunch provided at Dan and Karen's house. There is ample food and people are encouraged to eat as much as they want. We use as much farm food as possible and the meals are primarily vegetarian. We can make some allowances for special dietary needs (if they are addressed beforehand). One apprentice (the chore person) helps Dan (and/or the assistant manager) clean up the kitchen each day

Produce

All apprentices are allowed to take as many vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs as they can use (including putting up for winter). You can also take up to 50 lbs. of produce per year as gifts for family and friends.

Meat

All apprentices can take up to $50 worth of farm meat (beef,pork) each year. Additional farm-raised meat can be purchased at 50% off retail price.

Shop Sale Products

Apprentices can help themselves to milk, bread, eggs, and apples (for their own consumption) for sale at the farm shop at no charge. Apprentices also receive a $50 store credit. All other Shop Sale products (cookbooks, t-shirts, soap, blueberries, coffee, pickles, popsicles, ice cream, beef, lamb, and cheese) can be bought at cost.

Housing

The farm owns a 3-bedroom house next to the farm. Each apprentice is assigned a private room. Room assignments are first come, first served. There is a shared kitchen, living room, bathroom, garage, and laundry room. Utilities are included in the housing with the exception of telephone. It will be the responsibility of the apprentices to get phone service and pay for the bills in their name. The apprentice house must be kept clean at all times. You can decide, as a group, how you want to achieve this goal, but all apprentices will be responsible for the care and clean appearance of the house.Mowing the lawn will be the responsibility of the apprentices and tenant in basement apartment. The mower will be provided by the Trust, but the lawn must be mowed on a regular basis (at least every 2 weeks in July, August, and September, every week in May and June).

Time Off

Vacation

Each apprentice will be allowed one week paid vacation to be taken between July 1 and Aug 15 of the calendar year. Vacations must be taken in a continuous one-week period (Sat Afternoon until the following Sunday evening). Each apprentice will also be allowed one Saturday off during April, May, October, and November. Vacation days may not be "saved" and used after that time. All vacation time will be established in April, trying to take needs of all participants into account. Apprentices do not have to take vacations.

Personal Time

It is expected that there will be some need during the season for every apprentice to take some personal time, whether for weddings, car repairs, doctor's appointments, or other personal needs. Each apprentice is allowed up to 2 personal days each season. Personal days are not vacation days. They are considered to be used if a special need arises (major or minor person needs).There is no need to make up work for personal days and they do not need to be taken as full days. It is expected that the farm manager will be given ample notice about the need for personal time and that opportunities will be taken when possible to make personal time happen at convenient times for the farm schedule. If more days are needed, they will need to be cleared ahead of time with the farm manager. Personal time may not be saved and used during a second season.

Sick Time

Everyone's going to get sick. When you're sick, you don't work. If you miss more than 7 days of work during the season due to illness, there will need to be some discussion with the Farm Manager as to whether the apprenticeship is the right situation for you. You do not need to make up work for sick days.

After-Hours Work

There will be comp time given for any regular work that is performed after regular work hours. The farm manager will always give you a choice as to whether you want to work after hours or not in these situations. In the event of a farm emergency (animals out of the fence, etc.) it is expected that apprentices who are on or near the farm will help until the situation is corrected. There will not be comp time given for these situations

Personnel Procedures

Evaluations

Apprentices will go through an evaluation with the farm manager two times during the course of the season. The first evaluation will happen sometime between July 1 and August 15. The final evaluation will happen sometime during the last two weeks of November. The evaluation will consist of individual consultations with the farm manager to see how well we are all meeting the expectations of the apprenticeship contract. The evaluation will be multi-directional with apprentice and farm manager evaluating one other

Accountability

All apprentices are accountable to the farm manager. The farm manager is accountable to the Board of Directors of the BFCT. The Board is accountable to the bylaws under which it operates.

Grievance Process

If any grievances arise it is expected that the first course of action for all apprentices will be to speak directly to the farm manager. If there is still a problem that cannot be resolved, all apprentices are welcome to speak directly with the President of the BFCT who will be responsible for resolving the matter with the farm manager.

Continuation of Apprenticeships

Many apprentices feel that one year on the farm is not enough time to get the training they need. We encourage people to consider the possibility of staying for more than one season. While encouraged, it is not automatic for apprentices to be accepted for a second year - the basis for the decision will be your performance review over the first year and solely at the discretion of the Farm Manager. The process for continuing an apprenticeship is

  • By Oct 15, each apprentice declares his/her interest to the Farm Manager in returning for another season
  • The Farm Manager reviews applications and has three options - acceptance, provisional acceptance, or rejection
  • Current apprentices will be notified of the Farm Manger's offer by Nov 15
  • At that point a contact will be will be drafted to outline the specifics of the apprenticeship continuation. The contract process will be completed by Thanksgiving.