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Work-Trade Orchardist at Wild Ponies Orchards - 19446

Job Title: 
Work-Trade Orchardist
Wild Ponies Orchards
1101 Pine Ridge Road
95482 Ukiah , CA ,
Job Type: 
Employment Type: 
Job Description: 

Background: Wild Ponies Orchards is a small, off-the-grid farm in the hills of Mendocino County located 20 minutes west of Ukiah. The farm centers around an orchard of approximately 400 fruit trees including cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, apples, plums, persimmons and figs. There are also about 30,000 daffodil bulbs blooming throughout the winter and spring. The farm follows organic, permaculture practices with no outside inputs other than wood and mulch collected from forests in the local area. Wild ponies, deer and other animals graze on the farm contributing manure as the main fertilizer for the soil. The harvest begins with cherries and apricots in early June and finishes late November with persimmons and late pears, apples and plums. The fruit is sold at local farmers’ markets.

Cob House: In exchange for helping with the orchard and taking care of the farm infrastructure (20 hours of work per week if an individual; 25 hours if a couple), an individual or couple receive the benefit of living in a beautiful off-the-grid cob house recently built at the bottom of the orchard with amazing wilderness surroundings. The house has a spacious bedroom, living room, kitchen-dining room and bathroom with clawfoot bathtub and shower. The toilet is located in a nearby outhouse that is also of cob and has been tiled. The house is surrounded by fruit trees and gardens that require tending. Tenant(s) should be able to understand the house systems (water, electricity, wood stove) and operate everything properly. The house needs to be kept uncluttered and clean.

Duties & Responsibilities: 

Work: The 20 hours (if an individual) or 25 hours (if a couple) of work per week primarily consists of caring for the orchard with the tasks varying based on the seasons. In the winter, the primary activities are bringing mulch from the forests into the orchard, planting new trees, and fencing the trees. In the spring, the primary activities are more mulching, giving extra support to trees that awaken from dormancy weak, watering the daffodils if the rains are light, and thinning fruit on the trees. In the summer, the primary activities are watering young trees, harvesting, and monitoring for and limiting damage by grasshoppers, gophers, deer and other animals. In the fall, the primary activities are pruning, harvesting, and planting new trees and daffodil bulbs. It is very important for the work-trade tenant(s) to be physically present at the farm, especially during critical times of the year (i.e. summer time for watering, harvesting, selling the fruit, monitoring the orchard on a daily basis, and allowing the owners to go on vacation). There will be times during the year (usually November to March) when the orchard requires less care and the work-trade tenant(s) may go away on vacation for short periods provided they may need to find someone to watch the house and gardens depending on time of year. Leaves of absence (i.e., vacations of more than two weeks) are not possible for the first two years. The work hours also include assisting with cutting and stacking firewood, maintenance of buildings and roads, forestry work immediately around the orchard, tending to the chickens, dog and garden when owners are away and other tasks as needed. Work-trade tenant(s) will also be responsible for helping to manage interns/woofers who will be visiting for short periods during the year and staying in a separate cob hut built for them.

Farmers’ Market Job: The position comes with the responsibility and opportunity to sell the fruit from the orchard at local farmers’ markets and potentially other venues available to the community. The work-trade person will learn how and when to pick the fruit for selling at the market and for owners’ personal use. The work-trade person selling the fruit may keep all of the proceeds from the sales after payment of registration and sales fees. The income from selling the fruit has averaged $10,000-$15,000 per year but may grow as the orchard matures.

Education & Experience: 

Qualifications: We are looking for an individual or couple who is/are interested in living off-the -grid amongst nature and are also passionate about tending trees, farming, and doing activities related to maintenance and upkeep of infrastructures. You must be kind, compassionate and enjoy connecting with others at the farm, neighbors, the trees, the flowers, the wild animals and the creeks surrounding the land. Some experience farming an orchard, or at least a strong passion and intuitive sense for tending fruit trees, is a must. You should also be a good communicator who completes tasks on time and is able to contribute your own ideas for improving the farm. It is important that you have handy person skills to be able to assist with work around the property, maintenance of the buildings and off-the-grid systems. Skills like operating a chainsaw for the forestry work and firewood, driving the manual shift farm truck for various tasks and tending to the gardens, animals, roads and buildings are needed. Experience living off-the-grid is a plus. Cleanliness as well as respect for nature and its biodiversity are essential. References are required.

Application Instructions: 

Interested applicants should send a description of their qualifications and list of references (at least three, of which at least two are professional references) to owner Mario Kashou at

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