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Highgate Farm is a small Certified Naturally Grown market garden and off-grid homestead surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Marshall, NC where we produce high quality mixed vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, flowers and eggs for sale at area tailgate markets and through our CSA. 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. Our business model is inspired by the traditional French Market Garden, producing a broad selection of products with great attention to detail. As a small scale CNG farm, our practices are closely aligned with NOP standards. 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).

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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 offering 4 full-time internships for the 2018 season, beginning in March and ending in November. We will consider other start dates until all positions are filled and/or as vacancies arise. We offer 10-12 week summer internships as space allows. We offer training and experience in small scale produce, flower, mushroom and egg production following organic methods, as well as opportunities to participate in homesteading activities such cooking and preserving, building, and harnessing renewable energy. Tent or shared cabin, shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, generous stipend, and fabulous food will be provided for individual use and the preparation of shared meals.

Interns & apprentices are expected to participate in farm and homestead related activities as needed, from 30 to 50 hrs. each week throughout their stay. Activities will include greenhouse propagation, all aspects of field work from seeding/transplanting through cultivation, to harvest and clean-up, processing and packing product and participating in market sales. Regular field rounds, and a weekly planning and debriefing meeting are also part of the schedule. An afternoon break is 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. A minimum of one day off each week will be provided to each individual.

We also offer volunteer positions we refer to as work-trade; workers commit to a minimum of 6 hrs/week, and receive a share of farm produce/products each week. These opportunities are available year-round, and seasonally.

Compensation offered...

Full season apprentices will receive a stipend of $500 per month. Summer interns will receive $ 300/month. Additionally, interns/apprentices in good standing will receive a bonus based on, and upon successful completion of, their tenure at Highgate Farm.

Current accommodations include a lovely shared bunk house or private tent platform, shared kitchen & sitting areas, hot outdoor shower and composting toilet, all surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. Limited access to electricity for charging electronics is available on site. Generous food including farm fresh products and kitchen staples as well as a grocery stipend is provided for individual use and the preparation of shared meals. A midday light picnic lunch is also provided, on long field days.
We offer hands-on individual and group training, experience and education, in all aspects of market gardening following organic methods, from planning through sales, including propagation, fieldwork, harvest, handling and record-keeping. We also provide opportunities to participate in farm and homesteading activities such cooking and preserving, building, and harnessing renewable energy. We are happy to share our 30+ years of organic farming & homesteading experience and related knowledge, a love and knowledge of food, cooking, and our natural environment, as well as our extensive library on related and other topics of interest. Other nearby farmers and beekeepers are often willing to offer opportunities for work and learning. The NC Cooperative Extension Service is nearby, and provides resources including education, training, information and facilities. As a member of CRAFT, interns/apprentices may take advantage of the many educational and networking opportunities offered, often at nearby farms.

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...

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 these opportunities, please contact us by email. For apprenticeship & internship positions please submit a letter of interest and resume. An interview and references are required.

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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