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Friends of the Trees Botanicals - Part-Time Apprenticeship 2021

Start Date: March 1, 2021

End Date:  Nov 1, 2021

Location: Chimacum, WA (plus commuting between Irondale & Port Hadlock)

Schedule:  2-3 times a week 10am - 5pm.  Days to be agreed upon.

Number of Positions Available: 1

App Deadline: Until Filled  (Posted Feb 13th, 2021)

Contact Person:  Ashley Kehl

Email: [email protected]

* Read entire document before applying

* Full season commitment required, 8 months

* Farming experience required, at least 1 year

* No housing provided

Roles & Responsibilities:

  • Farm Field Work: Mulching, Weeding, Bed preparation, and Irrigation

  • Propagation: Seeding, Planting, and Transplanting

  • Harvesting

  • General Farm Maintenance

  • Herb Processing

  • Shipping Orders

  • Plant Identification

General Description:

We are looking for an apprentice to join our crew this season who has a passion for farming, medicinal herbs, wildcrafting, and with a desire to be involved in an agrarian lifestyle.  We are based on the Olympic Peninsula and offer a large variety of botanicals that we personally cultivate and wildcraft. Our wildcrafted botanicals are sustainably gathered to maintain healthy plant populations.  Our 1/2 acre herb farm is located at Finnriver Farm & Cidery is a complex agroforestry system, which includes a wide diversity of medicinal herbs, trees, shrubs, hedgerows, berries, vegetables and culinary herbs.  We use permaculture and restorative land practices.   We are in the process of getting Organic Certification this year. Currently our botanicals are not certified organic, but they are grown with NO chemical fertilizers or pesticides. We use cultural practices, natural fertilizers and lots of mulch to build soil.  Our goal is healthy plants, a healthy ecosystem and good yields.  We have a 25 year reputation for delivering the highest quality fresh and dried botanicals.

Farming is hard work but also incredibly rewarding so a positive attitude and good work ethic are a must. We are seeking people who have good communication skills, who know how to ask for and receive guidance when approaching new tasks and who have experience working within a team.  We will also give preference to applicants who see farming as part of their long-term life goals and want to deepen their skills and experience.


  • 2-3 times a week 10am - 5pm  Days to be agreed upon.  Mondays and Tuesdays are generally our busiest days.

  • There is an unpaid 1 hour lunch break each work day.

  • At times we may require crew members to work shorter or longer hours depending on weather and/ or work load. 

Educational Opportunities:

FTB’s educational efforts focus on field-based hands-on immersion style learning in the context of diversified agroforestry farming practices and sustainably wildcrafting with a permaculture lens.  Educational opportunities are informal and will deepen throughout the season as you become integrated into the farm. The hows and whys of our farming practices will be explained and apprentices are fully encouraged to ask questions and take on projects. Much of the learning of farming happens in the repetition of tasks day to day and and experiencing the growing season. By the end of the season apprentices will leave feeling more confident in their ability to run a small diversified herb farm.

You will have access to our extensive Agricultural library with hundreds of books on Herbs, Farming and Earth Restoration.  We can suggest many books and references based on your farming interests. 

Our farm is very small so we will be working together, side-by-side. This creates a learning environment in which you get to learn from experience and direct conversation and discussion with the farmers.  Having a desire to learn and ask questions is an important aspect of the apprenticeship process, as it benefits both sides.  We believe we are all students of farming and learning is a continual process.  You will be working alongside very knowledgeable and experienced crew members; Michael “Skeeter” Pilarski, Ashley Kehl, and Anna Pallotta.

Michael “Skeeter” has been farming organically since 1972.  He wears many hats including- Educator, Author, Organizer and Permaculture Instructor who has devoted his life to studying and teaching how people can live sustainably on this Earth.  Since 1988 he has taught 40 permaculture design courses in the US and abroad. His specialties include earth repair, agriculture, seed collecting, nursery sales, tree planting, fruit picking, permaculture, agroforestry, forestry, ethnobotany, medicinal herb growing and wildcrafting. He has hands-on experience with over 1,000 species of plants!

Compensation: $14 per hour on payroll

Requirements, Skills & Expectations:

We are looking for someone who has the following qualities:

  • Flexibility: Plans change constantly with farming based on weather, opportunities, or mishaps, and you need to be able to roll with it. Prioritizing is difficult on the farm with endless variables involved, and you will often see the decision making process play out right in front of you.

  • Prior farming experience

  • Full season commitment

  • Ability to work outside in all weather conditions

  • Physically fit

    • Expect heavy physical exertion and long days spent out in the field.

    • Ability to lift 50 lbs repeatedly. 

    • Capable of enduring long days of bending, lifting, shoveling, pushing wheelbarrows, etc.

  • Responsible & Reliable

    • Ability to learn quickly and then work unsupervised and independently.

    • Self-motivated and strong work ethic

    • Keep track of work speed while doing a quality job and strive for efficiency.

    • Readiness to tackle any task.

    • We will expect you to be observant and notice what needs to be done.

  • Awareness, Participation and Focus!

    • Maintain an awareness of what is currently happening 

    • Think of what needs to happen next

    • Help initiate what needs to happen next

    • Able to concentrate on the task at hand and able to switch between tasks throughout the workday

    • Listen carefully to instructions without becoming distracted 

    • Retain information for future reference 

    • Think about safety

  • Team Player and Good Communicator

    • Work well with others and have experience working as part of a team

    • Ask for additional information if directions seem inadequate or unclear 

    • Positive “can-do” attitude

    • Make constructive suggestions for improving jobs (when appropriate); offer to help implement improvements

    • Offer alternative ways to achieve an objective (when appropriate)

    • Responsive to feedback from supervisors and co-workers

    • Proactive and honest

    • Open and accepting of others

    • Mindfulness: of self, the people around you, the environment, your actions and reactions.

    • Valid drivers license and access to reliable transportation



Contact Person:  Ashley Kehl

Send email to: [email protected] with Subject line “APPRENTICE”

Send an introduction, resume, photo of yourself and answer questions below. 

Thanks for your interest!



1) What experience do you have with farming and what skills do you have to offer? 

2) What attracts you to Friends of the Trees Botanicals and what are your goals for joining us?

3) What specific skills do you want to learn and develop?

4) What is the hardest, most repetitive physical work you have ever done? (tasks, hours, duration) 

5) Please describe a specific example or examples, which demonstrates your work ethic as an individual and as part of a team. 

6) Are there any other important details about yourself that you’d like to share with us?

7) Any hidden talents?

8) Do you live locally?


Rehydrating Landscapes - Great Info

Picture of Russian River WatershedOn  February  3-4, 2021, the Russian River Watershed Association hosted a two-day online event, Rehydrating the Russian River Watershed: Moving Towards Regenerative Landscapes with Didi Pershouse and Walter Jehne, renowned Australian microbiologist and climate scientist. I was able to catch some of this live and watch the recordings.  This is excellent information! I would rate Jehne as one of top people in the world today elucidating restoring soils, landscapes and ecosystems and how vegetation affects regional climate and microclimate.

Watch the videos and view other resources on the Russian River Watershed Association's website: Walter Jehne offers examples of successes from around the world in rehydration of landscapes, restoring regional rainfall, and flood, drought, and wildfire prevention.

Visit Site

I noticed that Walter Jehne had included information on wicking beds so I sent the url to my friend Phil Small, who is one of the leaders in developing wicking beds in the semi-arid Columbia Basin. He critiqued Walter’s info and Walter might want to look at Phil’s comments.  Which follow. 

"Capillary bags and self-watering planters are such a good idea for urban areas and other harsh environments. To be encouraged. The actual wicking bag design in the diagram has 2 technical problems. 1. unaddressed need to manage the tendency for standing gray water from going anaerobic in the water pillow. And 2, the design needs a drain. Rain can fill a bag with water. Plus wicking beds have a knack for building up salts (some research I read). Mine do, salt inflorescence is visible, and I don't even use gray water which would add to the salt accumulation. If rain isn't enough to flush salts, I get to flush it with a hose. Drain location, size and decant elevation all affect performance related to water logging and salinization. I expect once a person has grown in a wicking sack for a few seasons, that person will figure all this out and more without much effort.

"Failure is an essential part of learning, to be embraced, even pursued in some measure, not feared. Once one learns first hand how wicking sacks fail, it's pretty easy to come up with ideas to accommodate salt buildup, and the tendency to go anaerobic, any number of ways to pull it off.” 
    --Phil Small.


Plant Cunning Podcast with Michael "Skeeter" Pilarski

Plant Cunning LogoEpisode 18: Michael "Skeeter" Pilarski
Produced Feb 3, 2021

We talk with esteemed permaculturist Michael Pilarski about Bill Mollison, science & "woo", working with nature spirits, "Restore the Earth" party, restoring the earth, and making money from growing herbs in a regenerative way.

Plant Resilience. Plants Wisdom. Plant Plants. This podcast, hosted by Isaac Hill and A.C. Stauble brings together a network of people wise to the ways of plants, fungi and the natural world to explore the Mysteries of Nature. We invite herbalists, ethnobotanists, farmers, mages, fungi experts, community organizers and all kinds of other interesting people to the microphone to share their wisdom and experiences with us. The Plant Cunning Podcast bridges different worlds, makes connections, inspires and at times blows our minds while we explore the underlying theme of working with Nature.

Listen to the Podcast