Job Description – Farm Manager

Background & Mission: Plant It Forward Farms (PIFF) was founded in 2011 with the mission to help resettled refugees earn livable wages and find meaningful work through entrepreneurial urban farming in Houston, Texas. Prospective farmers are trained in sustainable farming methods, then placed on urban plots where they grow produce to sell through weekly farm shares, at markets, and wholesale. Farmers progress from Trainees to Apprentices to Master Farmers, based on training and performance. As of 2017, we have a Demonstration Farm that serves as a classroom and test lab for our current and future farmers.

Job Overview: The Farm Manager is responsible for the intensive production operations on PIFF’s Demonstration Farm, as well as for providing mentorship and technical support to a diverse group of farmers at multiple urban farm locations in Houston, Texas. The objective of the position is to maintain our Demonstration Farm as a model teaching tool and productive farm, and to ensure that our farmers are following sustainable growing practices to provide the best produce for our customers, and are empowered and supported on their journey to be successful, independent farmers. This person will be flexible, motivated, proactive, organized, hard-working, and patient. You will work with a small group of equally dedicated staff who are committed to the social entrepreneurship benefits of small urban farms.

Key Requirements:

Demonstration Farm Management

  • Build, develop and maintain the 1/2-acre Demonstration Farm, under the advisement of the PIFF Agriculture Consultant and in coordination with the Operations Manager;
  • Manage the day-to-day operations of a diversified vegetable farm, including: planning; planting; cultivation; pest, disease and weed management; irrigation; harvest and post-harvest handling; and quality control;
  • Deliver technical workshops for farmers in various farming topics;
  • Supervise the production components and general management of an on-site farm stand and support of community supported agriculture (CSA) farm share and wholesale programs;
  • Oversee special agricultural projects such as flower CSA development and transplants production and sales.

Farmer Mentorship

  • Enforce PIFF standards of operations on the farms of Apprentice and Master Farmers and provide assistance to fix and improve any deficient farming practices;
  • Supervise farm record-keeping, for harvest estimates, crop rotation, and customer satisfaction in support of a CSA program;
  • Ensure that the look and feel (appearance) of the farms are meeting or exceeding the neighborhood expectations so that the farms are a vital part of the neighborhood, to include trash pickup, habitat gardens, and infrastructure management;
  • Work with the farm trainers and other resources to provide assistance and education to the farmers in weed management, pest control, yield-management, irrigation, weather response, composting;
  • Monitor yields and variety and proactively identify gaps in the ability to provide a high quality weekly farm share for 250+ farm share members;
  • Maintain and troubleshoot the infrastructure, including irrigation, port-a-johns, hand-washing stations, shelter, fencing, composting, plant support and farm stands;
  • Provide assistance as needed, to help farmers to acquire the materials needed for their farm operations, including tools, seeds, fertilizer, mulch, soil and other as needed;
  • Participate in long-term farm and farmer development plans;
  • Identify gaps and improvements in the current farming practices.

Farmer Training

  • Participate in Urban Farmer Business Course for new PIFF farmers as a technical resource, in support of trainers;
  • Serve as a technical resource for PIFF Master Farmers;
  • Work in collaboration with Agricultural Consultant and Operations Manager to plan, schedule, and resource recurring demonstrations for master, apprentice, and trainee farmers, as well as staff and community partners.

People Management

  • Manage Farm Coordinators and Assistants, in accordance with PIFF Employee Handbook guidelines;
  • Manage service contractors and volunteers, as necessary;
  • Supervise interns and volunteers (patiently and respectfully).

Qualifications:

  • Strong agricultural background, with emphasis on employing organic and sustainable methods;
  • At least 5 years experience with farm planning and record-keeping, in support of CSA farm share and wholesale programs;
  • Meticulous organizational skills and a high degree of computer literacy, in support of record-keeping, communications, and sales platforms (knowledge of Farmigo a plus);
  • Keen, transparent communication skills and experience communicating through interpreters;
  • Demonstrated knowledge of and willingness to use and maintain mechanized farm equipment;
  • Proven leadership and personnel management skills; teaching experience a plus;
  • Multicultural experience and tolerance for persons of different ethnicities, faiths, genders, and physical capabilities;
  • Ability to work independently and flexibly;
  • Resourcefulness and ability to constructively work within budget and resource constraints;
  • Positive attitude, sense of humor, and ability to prioritize but be responsive to changing needs;
  • Fluency in a language spoken by a Houston refugee population is ideal but not required.

Special Requirements

  • Able to work on the farms and office, including hard repetitive physical work (lift and carry 40 pounds);
  • Willingness to work outside in the elements, year-round, on a daily basis;
  • Current driver’s license and a clean driving record;
  • Comfortable operating mechanized farm equipment.

Hours: Salaried, approximately 40 hours/week, some weekends and evenings required

Compensation: PIFF Manager I level salary, negotiable based on experience. Benefits currently under board review, farm share subscription included.

Reporting Relationships: Farm Manager reports to the President. Farm Manager is responsible for managing Farm Coordinator(s), Assistant(s), service contractors, and occasional oversight of volunteer groups.

Career Progression: Eligible for promotion to Farm Manager II after one year and Farm Director I after three years, sooner for exceptional performance.

Preferred Start Date: Monday, October 2, 2017

Applications Due By: Friday, September 22, 2017

APPLY: Email cover letter / motivation statement and résumé to careers@plant-it-forward.org