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Highgate Farm, established in 2006, is a small Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) market garden and off-grid homestead near Marshall, NC. We live and work on 38 acres of forested cove, rolling pasture and prime bottom land in the beautiful Walnut Mountains of Madison County, where we value our role as good stewards of the environment. Our annual vegetable production fields occupy four acres of bottom along Brush Creek. Older production fields occupy a sunny ridge of terraced beds, where we are establishing perennial crops such as asparagus, flowers and small fruits. Both sites are surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. Our business model is inspired by the traditional French Market Garden, with great attention to detail. We take pride in supplying the highest quality and specialty produce, flowers, mushrooms, and eggs to area tailgate markets, CSA customers, restaurants and grocers.

As a small-scale CNG farm, our practices are closely aligned with National Organics Program (NOP) standards. Along with several apprentices and work-traders, we employ a walk-behind tractor, hand tools, drip irrigation, a passive solar propagation house, spun row cover, NOP compliant inputs and integrated pest management (IPM). We currently sell our Certified Naturally Grown produce, eggs, berries, flowers and mushrooms at tailgate markets in Madison and Buncombe County.

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We host farm tours through Asheville Farm-to-Table Tours, 4-H, and FFA scheduled activities.

About purchasing from Highgate Farm...

“Highgate folks have really great quality produce, are 100% reliable and go out if their way to provide good customer service. They throw in extras now and then and even delivered our CSA box to our home once when we couldn't make it to market! Their interns seem cheerful and their produce is clean and beautifully displayed. Great overall product!”

- Dana, CSA member

Our work schedule…

We are seeking apprentices and volunteers (work-traders) for our regular season which runs March through November, and/or for our winter season, December through February. Volunteer positions are considered work-trade; workers commit to a minimum of 6 hrs/week, and receive a share of farm produce/products each week.

Full-time apprentice positions require a commitment of 40+/- hours of work per week. A typical schedule may involve up to 10 hrs. of farm and/or homestead related work 5 to 6 days of the week. An afternoon break is often taken during periods of extreme heat. Lunch in the field, shared dinners with apprentices and occasionally with host farmers is expected. Optional outings for swimming, ice cream and CRAFT/learning activities are offered and encouraged.

We prefer to host apprentices for our full, regular season (March thru November). We will consider other start/end dates until all positions are filled and/or as vacancies arise. Winter season work/training is available for hardy souls.

Compensation offered...

We offer one-on-one and group instruction and hands-on training in small scale produce, flower, and egg production following organic methods, as well as opportunities to learn and participate in homesteading activities such as cooking, preserving, building, and harnessing renewable energy & resources. A stipend of $500/month plus end-of-season bonus is provided. Room and board is included, in the form of tent or shared bunkhouse, kitchen and bathroom facilities, and fabulous food (fresh, local farm products, kitchen staples and a shared grocery stipend) for individual use and the preparation of shared meals.

Our farm is a member in the CRAFT network.

Our location...

We live and farm on 38 acres of mountain cove, bottom land and ridge top located in the beautiful Walnut Mountains, just a few miles outside the small town of Marshall, North Carolina, home to a vibrant arts, farming and homesteading community. Our main production fields occupy 4 acres of bottomland where we cultivate most of our annual vegetable crops. Older production fields occupy a sunny ridge of terraced beds, where we are establishing perennial crops such as asparagus, flowers and small fruits. Both sites are surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. Our town sits along the French Broad River and boasts a modern library, lively arts council including a public access radio station, a popular coffee shop/café, several restaurants and live music venues, art studios and craft galleries, a new brewery and a lovely riverside park.

The Appalachian region is famous for the rich cultural heritage of its Scotch-Irish ancestry: music, crafts, storytelling, agrarian lifestyle and unique dialect. Madison County is known as the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge”, for its natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and wide range of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking and fishing.

Area attractions include the Appalachian Trail, forest canopy zip line tours, rushing whitewater rivers and trout streams, hot springs for soaking, and the city of Asheville, known for its music, crafts, breweries, restaurants, and diverse, progressive community. The region is home to several college and University campuses including Warren Wilson, Mars Hill and UNC, as well as organizations offering demonstrations, conferences and workshops relating to farming, homesteading and self-sufficiency such as Organic Growers School, No Taste Like Home, Earth Haven, Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, and many more.

What we’re looking for...

Because our main focus is our Market Garden business, we are seeking individuals with a sincere interest and enthusiasm to learn about food, food production and marketing. The ability and desire to spend long days working outdoors is necessary. Workers should expect to get up early, and be prepared to work long and hard in sometimes harsh conditions. Those who are ready to learn and find satisfaction in hard work and a job well done will find much success here. Respect for others, the environment, shared resources and space, as well as general work skills of reliability and follow through, clear respectful communication, and attention to detail are expected. A cheerful disposition and ability to make work fun are most appreciated! Some experience working with plants and food is helpful.

To maintain connections, we recommend guests supply their own (Verizon Wireless) phone/internet service. To access area amenities and attractions, we recommend guests come equipped to supply their own transportation, or expect to rely upon occasional and negotiated shared rides with hosts or other guests.

To inquire about employment opportunities, please contact us by email.

About working for Highgate Farm...

“Overall a very positive experience. Learned a lot from John and Melissa and enjoyed living on the property. Facilities were extremely limited at the time, so things like electricity, internet, toilet options, shelter from inclement weather, etc. were less than optimal. However, I understand that since my time there, the facilities have been improved so there are probably fewer issues in this regard. Communication between the farmers could have been better at times but individually they were great to work with.”

- former Highgate volunteer

“Living at Highgate Farm is one of the most beautiful places I've had the advantage to enjoy. My time there included working on their cultivated terraced beds, herb care, and wild harvests. I was able to learn small scale and diverse production of a tremendous quality with smart presentation for farmer's markets.

I found the attention to seed sources and many supplies to align with Certified Naturally Grown methods in addition to organic practices. I would say that practices exceed the expectation.

Melissa Harwin and John Kunkle both strive for sustainable practices and feel strongly about what could be best for the land and their farm business. Sometimes these opinions come up for debate in passionate ways. This debate could be with each other or with others. What is really neat is that the culmination of these discussed practices have made Highgate Farm.

This past year I was able to use education from Highgate Farm and additional work/apprenticing in WNC to connect to culinary gardener work. It was the experience with diverse heirloom varieties that appealed to the head gardener and chef. The experiences at Highgate Farm are very precious to me, because it means more than just being able to work for someone else. It means I have experiential education around developing a more secure food system. It means a richer life for myself and the people I'm fortunate to be able to share it with.”

- former Highgate apprentice

"I loved my time at Highgate. Beautiful location; educationally-oriented farmers with lots of energy to answer my questions and talk growing. I enjoyed working with both John and Melissa, absorbing double the perspective, and their sometimes different preferences around growing. I got a wide range of work tasks, and enjoyed going to market in addition to on-farm work. Part-time work in exchange for amazing food and adequate housing worked fine for me."

- former Highgate apprentice

We host farm tours through Asheville Farm-to-Table Tours, 4-H, and FFA scheduled activities.
We also host work parties with members of our community, by invitation.

About purchasing from Highgate Farm...

“Highgate folks have really great quality produce, are 100% reliable and go out if their way to provide good customer service. They throw in extras now and then and even delivered our CSA box to our home once when we couldn't make it to market! Their interns seem cheerful and their produce is clean and beautifully displayed. Great overall product!”

- Dana, CSA member

About working for Highgate Farm...

“Overall a very positive experience. Learned a lot from John and Melissa and enjoyed living on the property. Facilities were extremely limited at the time, so things like electricity, internet, toilet options, shelter from inclement weather, etc. were less than optimal. However, I understand that since my time there, the facilities have been improved so there are probably fewer issues in this regard. Communication between the farmers could have been better at times but individually they were great to work with.”

- former Highgate volunteer

“Living at Highgate Farm is one of the most beautiful places I've had the advantage to enjoy. My time there included working on their cultivated terraced beds, herb care, and wild harvests. I was able to learn small scale and diverse production of a tremendous quality with smart presentation for farmer's markets.

I found the attention to seed sources and many supplies to align with Certified Naturally Grown methods in addition to organic practices. I would say that practices exceed the expectation.

Melissa Harwin and John Kunkle both strive for sustainable practices and feel strongly about what could be best for the land and their farm business. Sometimes these opinions come up for debate in passionate ways. This debate could be with each other or with others. What is really neat is that the culmination of these discussed practices have made Highgate Farm.

This past year I was able to use education from Highgate Farm and additional work/apprenticing in WNC to connect to culinary gardener work. It was the experience with diverse heirloom varieties that appealed to the head gardener and chef. The experiences at Highgate Farm are very precious to me, because it means more than just being able to work for someone else. It means I have experiential education around developing a more secure food system. It means a richer life for myself and the people I'm fortunate to be able to share it with.”

- former Highgate apprentice

"I loved my time at Highgate. Beautiful location; educationally-oriented farmers with lots of energy to answer my questions and talk growing. I enjoyed working with both John and Melissa, absorbing double the perspective, and their sometimes different preferences around growing. I got a wide range of work tasks, and enjoyed going to market in addition to on-farm work. Part-time work in exchange for amazing food and adequate housing worked fine for me."

- former Highgate apprentice


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