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Organization Overview

Common Ground is a center for environmental learning and leadership in New Haven, Connecticut where a diverse community of children, young people, and adults cultivate habits of healthy living and sustainable environmental practice. Farm meets forest meets city on Common Ground’s 20 acre campus at the base of West Rock Ridge. The site abuts the 1500 acre West Rock State Park, sharing hiking trails, wildlife, and diverse natural habitats with the surrounding forests. Common Ground’s Charter High School uses the site as an organizing principle of its curriculum which is guided by an ecological framework that recognizes the connection and interdependence of all living and non-living things. Each year, more than 10,000 community members participate in festivals, field trips, after-school programs, and other educational opportunities on site. Our working farm is a key resource for both the high school and community programs, as well as for the greater New Haven community.

Farm Mission
  • Food
    • Common Ground Farm contributes fresh, sustainably grown produce to our school lunch program
    • Common Ground Farm shares its produce with the families through its Family Share Program and on-site Farm Stand
    • Food from Common Ground Farm helps fill the plates of New Haven residents through a Mobile Market that serves primarily under-resourced neighborhoods
  • Education
    • Common Ground Farm serves as a classroom for active, authentic learning.
    • Common Ground Farm provides opportunities for the community to learn about food production and sustainable agriculture.
    • Common Ground Farm is used to engage children and youth with food and where it comes from.
    • Common Ground Farm helps connects people to their cultural heritage through food and the practice of agriculture.
    • Common Ground Farm demonstrates small-scale sustainable animal husbandry and meat production
  • Community
    • Common Ground Farm participates in efforts to strengthen local food production and agricultural viability.
    • Common Ground Farm creates opportunities for community engagement and community development
    • Common Ground Farm represents our organizational commitment to food justice
Job Description

Common Ground is seeking a reliable, hands-on, experienced farmer-manager to run our urban farm and oversee our agricultural programming. The Farm Director is responsible for all aspects of Common Grounds farm operation, including participating in the development of strategic priorities, annual operating goals and budget for the farm; general maintenance of and care for farm infrastructure; oversight of farm animals; training and oversight of farm staff, volunteers, interns, and apprentices; and coordination of the distribution of farm products to Common Ground’s various constituencies. In addition the Farm Director will play an important role in working with the staff of Common Ground High school and Community Programs to facilitate integration of the farm into their programs and coordinate educational projects involving the farm.

The Farm Director is responsible for generating some farm revenue. Revenues are generated through the sale of produce to a variety of constituents, as well as through a spring and fall seedling sale.

The Farm Director supervises a full time Farm Programs Coordinator as well as several part to full time field assistants. The Farm Director also serves on the Management Team.

Specific duties of this position will include:

Garden Management

  • Create and carry out an annual farm plan that meets the needs of Common Ground’s multiple programs and constituencies. The plan shall include at minimum:
    • Annual Farm Budget
    • Crop Production Plan
    • Farm products sales and distribution plan
    • Farm maintenance plan
    • Farm Related Programs plan
    • Farm staffing plan, including volunteer and intern program plans
  • Maintain processes and procedures that ensure the health and safety of farm employees
  • Employ best practices with regard to the safety of food from the farm
  • Follow organic recommendations and emphasize overall sustainability (Common Ground’s farm is not certified organic).
  • Ensure that all daily farm-related tasks are completed including placing seed orders, daily planting, weeding, harvesting, irrigating, soil amendment, and general maintenance.
  • Coordinate and oversee the distribution of farm production to end-users
  • Manage the compost operation, maintain garden infrastructure (irrigation, fences, tool repair).
  • Coordinate daily care for the farm animals.

Volunteer, Student, Intern, Green Job Corp Oversight

  • Train and direct students, volunteers, farm staff, and interns in doing the work of the farm.
  • Lead individuals and groups of many ages in contributing to the work of the farm.

Educational and Farm Programs

  • Work directly with teachers at Common Ground High School to find effective ways to use the farm as an educational resource to supplement classroom work.
  • Develop and implement farm and agriculture related training and education programs for adults.
  • Facilitate the use of the farm by Community Programs.

Special Events

  • Participate in planning and provide produce as needed for special events.
  • Work closely with chefs to plan farm based meals for our two annual fundraisers.
  • Grow seedlings for and manage our annual seedling sale.

General Management

  • Attend weekly meetings of the Management Team and participate in all Management Team activities
  • Develop annual goals and budgets for the operation of the Farm and Farm Programs
  • Prepare monthly reports on the status of the Farm for the Common Ground Board
  • Assist with raising funds, including helping with grants, in support of the Farm and Farm Programs
  • Represent Common Ground and its agricultural programs at relevant conferences and events.
  • Participate in the hiring of all farm related staff
  • Supervise all farm related staff
  • Assist with organizational initiatives as required
Job Schedule

While this is a full time, year-round position, the hours and days necessary to complete the job requirements are expected to vary with the season and the cycles of work on the farm. Work on weekend days will often be required during the growing season. Farm staff, students, and volunteers will contribute to the work of the farm, but final responsibility for ensuring the work of the farm gets done rests with the farm director.

Qualifications and Compensation

Minimum qualifications for this position are:

  • Experience managing an organic farm, from annual planning and seed ordering to all aspects of caring for the farm through the growing season
  • Experience managing the distribution and sale of farm products (CSA, wholesale, farmer’s markets, etc.)
  • Experience with educating and supervising workers on the farm (volunteers, interns, staff, students, etc.)
  • Strong skills in leading, supervising, and communicating with groups of youth and adults.
  • Excellent administrative, communication and organizational skills
  • A strong work ethic and the ability to work independently, with minimal oversight
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Willingness and ability to work a flexible schedule, including weekends
  • Ability to lift 50 pounds
  • Licensed driver with a vehicle
  • Interest in working for an organization that is committed to social justice, the dismantling of systems of oppression, and creating a just, equitable, and inclusive culture.

Additional desirable skill areas:

  • Mechanical aptitude for maintaining and operating standard farm equipment (mowers, weed whackers, small tractor, etc.)
  • Carpentry and “fix-it” skills: handy enough with tools and basic carpentry practices to build and fix various items around the farm
  • Experience working with small livestock (poultry, goats, sheep, pigs).
  • Bi-lingual in Spanish and English
  • Resident of New Haven County

Compensation: Commensurate with Experience

To Apply:

Application deadline: September 9th, 2016

Position Starts: As soon as filled

Email a resume and a cover letter describing why you are applying and your relevant experience to Melissa Spear (mspear@commongroundct.org)

It is the policy of the New Haven Ecology Project, Inc. and Common Ground High School that no person shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise discriminated against under any program, including employment, because of race, color, religious creed, sex, age, national origin, ancestry, marital status, civil union status, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental retardation, and past/present history of mental disorder, learning disability and physical disability.

It is the policy of the New Haven Ecology Project, Inc. and Common Ground High School to provide equal employment opportunities to all qualified individuals without regard to age, color, marital status, civil union status, national origin, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity in all personnel actions, including recruitment, evaluation, selection, daily interactions, promotion, compensation, training and termination.

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended, it is the policy of the New Haven Ecology Project, Inc. and Common Ground High School not to discriminate against protected qualified applicants and employees with disabilities in all aspect of employment.