Beginning Farmers: Get paid farming experience through Labor4Learning with Practical Farmers of Iowa

For Release: February 4, 2015

AMES, Iowa — Are you a beginning or aspiring farmer looking for a paid work opportunity that will offer real-world insights into the business and life of farming? If so, consider applying to Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Labor4Learning Program. The program, now entering its third year, seeks to give beginners who are considering a farming career paid on-the-job experience while helping established farmers attract high-quality, motivated farm employees.

This year, 12 PFI member farms across Iowa are seeking to hire a trainee for the 2015 growing season. Job opportunities range from planting and harvesting row crops at Maple Edge Farm near Council Bluffs, Iowa, to greenhouse production at Salama Greenhouse in Boone, Iowa, and everything in-between. A complete list of participating farm locations and enterprises is included below, and detailed job descriptions can be found at Labor4Learning.

Benefits: In addition to securing paid employment on a PFI member farm, selected trainees develop a set of learning outcomes with their trainers to focus on throughout the term of employment. Learning outcomes can include farm management such as business planning and financing as well as production practices and hands-on skills. Trainees also:

  • Are eligible for a day of paid time off to attend a PFI event during their term of employment
  • Receive a discounted rate to attend the PFI Annual Conference in January 2016
  • Receive preference for free home-stay lodging during the 2016 conference
  • Have opportunities to connect with other PFI trainees

Experienced farmers benefit from having an employee who is highly motivated to work and eager to learn about the business of running a farm.

Beginning farmer Jack Davis participated as a trainee in 2014, saying “It really worked out great, I was able to really dive into farm training, bee keeping, and financial training. This program gave me the right questions I needed to ask when starting my own farm. Great program!”

Qualifications: To become a trainee, applicants must apply to and be hired by a training farm; have a strong desire to learn about the business of farming; and be a current member of Practical Farmers of Iowa (individual or whole-farm membership types both qualify). Those who want to apply but aren’t currently PFI members can sign up at or by calling Erica Andorf at (515) 232-5661.

For questions about the Labor4Learning Program, contact Steve Carlson at or (515) 232-5661.


2015 Trainer Farms

  • Jon Bakehouse– Maple Edge Farm – Hastings – MILLS COUNTY
    Corn, soy, alfalfa, beef cattle, pasture, small grains
  • Andy and Melissa Dunham – Grinnell Heritage Farm – Grinnell – POWESHIEK COUNTY
    Certified organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef cattle, hay, poultry
  • Rob Faux – Genuine Faux Farm – Tripoli – BREMER COUNTY
    Certified Organic fruits and vegetables, poultry
  • Rick and Stacy Hartmann – Small Potatoes Farm – Minburn – DALLAS COUNTTY
    Certified organic fruits and vegetables, poultry
  • Ryan Herman – Herman’s Heartland Farm – New Albin – ALLAMAKEE COUNTY
    Beef cow/calf, beef yearling grazing, custom beef grazing, sheep
  • Susan Jutz – ZJ Farms – Solon – JOHNSON COUNTY
    Fruits and vegetables, seed garlic, grass-fed sheep
  • Denise O’Brien and Larry Harris – Rolling Acres Farm – Atlantic – CASS COUNTY
    Produce, cover crops, poultry
  • Jeff and Gayle Olson – J&G Olson Farms – Winfield – HENRY COUNTY
    Corn, soybean, beef cattle, specialty crops
  • James Nisly – Organic Greens, LLC – Kalona – WASHINGTON COUNTY
    Mini greens, micro greens, asparagus, cabbage and sweet potatoes
  • Mike Salama – Salama Greenhouse – Boone – BOONE COUNTY
    Greenhouse production: ornamentals, vegetables
  • Ben Saunders – Wabi Sabi Farm – Des Moines – POLK COUNTY
    Certified organic fruits and vegetables
  • Erik Sessions – Patchwork Green Farm – Decorah – WINNESHIEK COUNTY
    Organically grown fruits, vegetables, herbs and cut flowers


Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers that seeks to strengthen farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call (515) 232-5661 or visit


Steve Carlson | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |