Wellspring CSA

Contact: Mary Ann Ihm
4382 Hickory Rd.
West Bend WI 53090
Email: wellspring@hnet.net
Best way to contact: email

Current Operation

Wellspring has been a CSA since 1988. The farm is certified organic. We use bio-intensive and bio-dynamic farming practices. We supply weekly produce to 60 shareholders from our 2-acre garden for 25 weeks out of the year. This year we are extending the garden to 4.5 acres and hope to increase shareholders to 100 households. We grow vegetables, herbs and small fruit. We hope to offer cut flowers this season. We have a new greenhouse and plan to extend our season into the winter with salad greens for local restaurants. This is the first year we will be having produce to sell at farmers' markets. We also plan to raise chicken for eggs to share with our CSA shares.

We are looking for 2 interns to assist the garden team with the CSA and learn hands-on how to grow and market organic produce.

Internship Description

The work is mostly hands-on and requires some rigorous physical labor. Interns learn the basics of organic gardening from the beginning of the season to the end. They learn seed planting in the greenhouse, seed ordering, composting and soil building, garden planning, crop rotation, transplanting, companion planting, mulching, weed control through natural means, harvesting, preparing for market, food preparation and preservation, use of hand tools, row covers, green cropping, use of hoop houses and bio-dynamic preparations. Wellspring belongs to CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) and interns participate in 4 CRAFT events during the season - a 2-day orientation and visits to other farms to learn helpful techniques and meet other interns. Interns will be able to experience all the aspects of Wellspring's operation as described above.

Intern Skills/Experience

It is good if interns have had some previous experience with gardening to know that their bodies can take the physical exercise required. Since the first year internship teaches basics, the skills interns need to know will be taught on-site. It is good if interns have basic computer skills to access the web for additional educational material. At Wellspring, interns live a community life with other gardeners. It is good if they have had some previous experience living with others besides family members. Each intern gets a private room, but all other facilities are shared. Wellspring expects these shared spaces to be kept in good order at all times. Interns will live in a refurbished barn with 2 full bathrooms. This building is next to the gardens. Each intern takes a day to make lunch for the crew. It is not necessary, but helpful, if they already know how to prepare healthy meals. We are mostly vegetarian at Wellspring and eat lunch together Mon.- Fri.

Internship Timeline

The internship is an 8-month residency program, mid-March through mid-November. Interns who are serious about sustainable agriculture as a career are invited to stay on longer, even for a total of 3 years. During this time they will be taught skills to move them forward in their agricultural career, possibly even managing the Wellspring CSA.

From mid-March through the end of April interns work 35 hours a week in exchange for full room and board. These weeks are focused on more academic learning than the rest of the year. May through October, interns work 40 hours a week and get a monthly stipend of $100. The workday varies with the season. Mar.-Apr. the day begins at 8:30 with a 1½ hour lunch break. Afternoon hours are from 1:30 - 5:00pm. May through October the day begins at 7:00 am on harvest mornings and ends at 5:30pm with the same long lunch break. On Friday the day ends an hour earlier. Interns are free evenings and weekends, except for the weekend each takes a turn watering the greenhouse or the gardens (usually once a month).

Internship Stipends/Benefits

Interns receive full room and board. Housing is provided on the farm in a refurbished barn (see above). Each intern gets a private bedroom but shares all other facilities. Meals are hearty vegetarian fare (mostly). $100 per month stipend for 6 months, May through October. No health insurance. Evenings and weekends are free except once a month for a few hours (see above). Wellspring is also a retreat and conference center so there are guests and visitors on the grounds at various times. There are 36 beautiful acres to enjoy with a river running through it, nature trails, woods, meadows, prairies, ponds and a labyrinth. Wellspring is next to 350 acre Riveredge Nature Center. Yet, the farm is only 35 minutes from Milwaukee, 15 minutes from the Kettle Moraine State Forest and Lake Michigan beaches. Interns can enjoy the birds, frogs and wildlife that abound in this tranquil valley. They will be able to see sunrises and sunsets and the glorious night sky as we are somewhat free of light pollution.

Family Information

Whoever lives here makes up the Wellspring family. I am single, but there are 3 staff that also live here and help me run the farm and retreat center - all are involved with the learning opportunities of the interns.

Additional Information

Wellspring is a not-for-profit educational organization. The Garden Program is one of the more visible and tangible educational programs offered. Wellspring's garden education includes a project called Farm to School - an effort to get farm-fresh food into our local school lunches.