Spring 2013: After 3+ wonderful years, Aylmer Backyard Farms will not be in operation this year. Thank you so much for your interest and support.

What is a Workshare?

Thank you for your interest! Our 2012 farm team is now complete and we are no longer accepting applications. If you would still like to be involved in the gardens, please stay in touch. We have field days during the summer which you would be welcome to join. Let us know if you would like to be on our email list.

A workshare is a part-time farming internship. It is an exchange of mutual benefit: we benefit from the interest and hard work provided by folks who want to learn about urban farming and/or who are supportive of good, local food. You benefit from a weekly basket of fresh, organically grown veggies as well as a full season of hands-on learning in all aspects of running a small market garden in an urban setting. If you want to learn how to grown your own vegetables, become a farmer or are passionate about good, local food and you love the planet, here’s your chance!

A workshare at Aylmer Backyard Farms is ideal for those based in the city, with other commitments, yet who want to be involved in hyper-local, organic (not-certified) vegetable farming. We offer three options that require a season-long commitment of either one to two full days per week beginning early May to mid October. We will consider those who want to join for only a half day but give strong preference to those who can commit to at least one full day per week. A day’s commitment can sometimes be split among two mornings.

Starting in mid June, you will receive a weekly basket of delicious veggies – the size depends on your time commitment.  One share requires a commitment of one full work day per week and two shares, two full days per week. Please see below for information on the contents and value of a share.

Workshare members are not volunteers. While friends and volunteers are always  welcome, we focus our energy on training workshare members. Volunteers come to the farm sporadically and often stay a few hours, depending on their schedule.  In contrast, workshare members commit to coming the same days each week throughout the length of the season, without a break, and are therefore critical to the running of the farm. The 2012 workshare season runs from May 7 – October 15.

The workday

We work in the fields Monday to Friday from 7:45 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. On Saturdays, from 7:45 a.m. – 1:00p.m. we set up the veggie stall at the local bakery and one of the workshare members usually participates.

Tea is provided for a 15 minute break both in the morning and afternoon. We usually break for lunch around 12:00 for about 30 minutes; we stay in the field where we can admire the fruits of our labour.  You must pack your own lunch, water, rain and sun gear and footwear for working in the dirt and be comfortable peeing in the bushes.

You do not need to have gardening or farming experience although this is always helpful as are other skills such as carpenty or being a general “handy-person”. What you do need is to be reliable, eager to learn and willing to work hard at a fast pace under all weather conditions. We try to keep the work varied but it is inevitable that at times it will be hot or wet, monotonous and buggy – literally. You will spend time preparing beds, planting and harvesting vegetables, building compost bins, turning compost, installing drip irrigation, tilling, hoeing, weeding, weeding, weeding, thinning, etcetera.

We do our best to provide a fun and educational atmosphere. Time will be set aside throughout the season to check in about our urban farming methods. We share our resources and contacts with you and you will have time to ask questions. You will pick up on all parts of the farm operation from seedlings to marketing. However, we work fast and multi-tasking is the rule (if you need to stop work in order to chat, this is not the right thing for you!). Almost everything we do requires a good level of mental and physical fitness and the ability to do lots of bending up and down. Workshares can be challenging yet inevitably they are also fun and rewarding; a whole day outside, tending to the earth is often very nourishing.

Share Value

Aylmer Backyard Farms offers “urban” share – individual shares geared toward those  who just can’t eat all the veggies in the usual big box shares offered by “rural” farmers. We focus on veggies that can be grown beautifully in a small space and that taste sublime (i.e. heirloom tomatoes, baby head lettuce). Shares run from mid-late June to early October. One share equals approximately $350 of veggies (2011 market value). Workshare members receive half to two full shares depending on their time commitment.

Each week there is a delicious variety of seasonal produce in your share. As the season changes from cooler to hot to cool again so do the vegetables available. In general, the first few shares will be a little smaller, and the bounty will increase over the season, until you are getting tomatoes, eggplant and hopefully some storage crops in the fall. However, it all depends on the weather, pests, and a whole variety of factors that you will be learning about intimately.

Your commitment as a team member throughout the season is priceless; we offer a vegetable share as a gesture of gratitude recognising that we could not do this work without you. That said, the quality of our veggies is superb and we are confident that the learning and experience you will receive is the true reward.

Are you interested in digging in for the season? Do you have any questions?

If so, please use the form below to send us an email indicating who you are and describing why you are interested. We will respond within 24 hours.

Thank you for your interest.