Grinnell-area farmers seek aspiring farmer for an on-farm training opportunity

For Release: March 22, 2017

Grinnell, Iowa – Andrew and Melissa Dunham of Grinnell Heritage Farm are hoping their farm can serve as a training ground for an aspiring farmer during the 2017 growing season.

The Dunhams are among 14 experienced farmers from around the state who have committed to hire an employee through the Practical Farmers of Iowa Labor4Learning program. Along with a paid on-farm job, they’ll provide the candidate with additional training in topics essential to be a successful farmer.

Andrew and Melissa’s Grinnell Heritage Farm is a certified organic, diversified farm with vegetables as a primary enterprise. In addition, they raise select fruits, chestnuts, beef cattle, hay and poultry. They operate a 250 member Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) serving Grinnell, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, and also sell to select grocery stores, co-ops, restaurants and farmers markets. The Dunhams were approved to serve as a trainer farm by a committee of Practical Farmers of Iowa members.

The job opening at Grinnell Heritage Farm is full-time, 40 hours per week, with the potential to be long-term. Responsibilities include a range of activities typical for a busy produce farm, such as planting, transplanting, harvest, post-harvest handling, delivering, and storing plants and produce. In addition to these, the Dunham’s will work with the employee to develop a set of learning outcomes that address important issues for running a farm business.

Full job details, dates and information on how to contact the Dunhams to apply can be found at https://www.practicalfarmers.org/labor4learning. To qualify as a trainee, the applicant must have a strong desire to learn; apply to and be hired by a trainer farm; and become a member of Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Having sufficient on-farm work experience is vital to the success of new farmers just starting on their own. Most on-farm employment opportunities, however, are limited in scope and don’t expose employees to the full range of skills needed to successfully run a farm business.

Practical Farmers’ Labor4Learning program – now entering its fifth year – helps fill this need by connecting aspiring farmers seeking paid on-farm training with experienced farmers looking for eager employees, and by emphasizing additional training on topics such as finances, marketing and other skills vital to running a farm business.

The program has benefits for both parties: Experienced farmers find high quality, motivated workers; aspiring farmers find employment on a reputable farm, gain training beyond their wage-earning activities and build a network of beginning and experienced farmers through Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Job opportunities through the program are found across the state and encompass a diversity of enterprises, such as greenhouse production, livestock, dairies, produce and row crops. Each job in the program varies in duration, hours, work activities, and compensation. The full list of openings is available at https://www.practicalfarmers.org/labor4learning.


Practical Farmers of Iowa strengthens farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Our values include: welcoming everyone; creativity, collaboration and community; viable farms now and for future generations; and stewardship and ecology. Founded in 1985, farmers in our network raise corn, soybeans, livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. To learn more, visit https://www.practicalfarmers.org.

Contact: Steve Carlson | Beginning Farmer and Program Associate | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | steve@practicalfarmers.org