Closed for fall/winter season
"Quail Springs is a leading environmental educational nonprofit that empowers students of all ages and backgrounds with knowledge, skills, and inspiration essential to cultivating ecological and social health."
About our nonprofit
Founded in 2004, Quail Springs Permaculture is a leading educational nonprofit stewarding a 450-acre, high desert permaculture farm and regeneration site. We are dedicated to demonstrating and teaching holistic ways of designing human environments, as well as facilitating deeper understandings of our relationships with ourselves, one another, and our local ecologies. We teach strategies and techniques for designing resilient environments and creating healthy and culturally vibrant communities.
Quail Springs is located near the tiny town of Cuyama, CA in the Cuyama Valley iof Southern California. The elevation is approximately 3,600' and the land is high desert, piñon-juniper woodland. The ruggedly beautiful Los Padres National Forest surrounds Quail Springs on three sides.
About our community
Since 2004, we have been building soil and growing food in a high desert climate. It has been an evolution of experimentation, ongoing learning, frustration and incredible breakthroughs. We farm on a small scale in harsh conditions with limitations that call upon creativity and collaboration with the elements. We supplement purchased organic bulk foods with our own dairy, eggs, meat, greens, and herbs throughout the year. The animals on the farm currently include an 18 goat herd with 5 milking does, a flock of 50 chickens, 2 livestock guardian dogs (Great Pyrenees), and 3 farm cats.
We are continuously learning and evolving our practices in dryland agriculture and watershed restoration, and we endeavor to practice regenerative land stewardship. Most importantly, we aim to open our doors to new agrarians wanting to gain knowledge of this landscape and healthy agroecological practices to encourage the continued stewardship of the Earth.
About our farm
Our farm support work exchange offering is a 5.5-month residency at Quail Springs, grounded in community living and working as a team within our food systems. The experience provides day-to-day practice of running our full-time farmstead and being a part of this community. This is a space to deepen connection with yourself and others while acquiring practical skills of maintaining a farmstead.
Daily chores that are divided between farm team members include: milking goats, tending poultry, taking the goats out to forage the landscape, watering and maintaining the greenhouses, irrigating annuals and perennials, cleaning animal pens, building soil, seeding and planting crops.
Qualifications & qualities
We are searching for flexible, self-motivated individuals who embrace simple, remote, rural living. Successful applicants are self-starters, curious, inclusive, comfortable in groups, creative problem solvers, and are able to manage themselves through a wide range of challenges and growth-experiences. Ability to manage personal energy, a good sense of humor, strong communication skills, a positive attitude, and a strong curiosity are essential attributes.
- Desire and ability to work in a community (a must!)
- Ability to work within a team as well as independently on projects after adequate orientation has been given
- Strong work ethic, an enjoyment of physical work, and strength & stamina
- Ability to lift up to 50 lbs
- An enjoyment of tending animals and gardens — prior experience is desired
- No allergies to animals
- Mindfulness, cultural sensitivity, and an ability for self-care & self-managing independent time
- Willingness to listen actively and speak authentically & honestly
- Good interpersonal skills, a positive attitude, and a good sense of humor
- Willingness to engage in community chores (laundry, cleaning, etc.)
- Completion of a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) or experience working on a farm is highly desired
- We are willing to train someone who is eager to help out and support Quail Springs in its mission
25 hrs per week over 5 work days, for a 5.5 month period. An additional 10-15 hrs of community contribution: shared meal cooking and clean up, maintaining of commons systems, etc.
In exchange, we offer high quality food; meat, fresh goat milk, produce from the garden, locally sourced grains and staples and access to our facilities on site.
What to expect
Participants are fully included in Quail Springs community activities. This includes attending our regular Tuesday Town Meetings, participating in circles (aka subcommittees) of interest, signing up to cook dinner or wash dishes 2-3 times/week, and participating in regular communal tending, e.g. doing kitchen laundry, tidying & cleaning the various common spaces, chopping firewood, and other projects that come up and are needed.
Farm and garden tasks are a daily focus for farm team volunteers and select staff, while other community members and staff spend their days focused on other tasks (e.g. facilities, education, programming, administration, advocacy).
At this time we provide space for camping. This is a high desert climate with extreme fluctuating weather conditions: Winter may include freezing temperatures and snow. Some nights are below freezing, while there may be t-shirt weather in the winter. We are looking for someone who has experience living outdoors, camping, and is interested in living intimately with the elements.
What skills will I be exposed to and practice?
- Basics of Caring for Goats and Poultry
- Basics of Animal Husbandry
- Collecting and Storing Eggs
- Healthy Dairy Protocols for Milking
- Animal Processing (optional): Harvesting, Skinning, and Butchering
Harvest preservation and food preparation
- Root Cellaring
- Fermenting, Pickling, Freezing, and Drying
- Making Yogurt and Basic Cheeses
- Cooking in Earthen Ovens
Additional opportunities (as needed)
- Chopping Firewood
- Light natural building repairs
- Watershed Stewardship
- Seeding According to Biodynamic Calendar
- Hand Watering Seedlings
- Hardening Off Plants
- Planting Greenhouse Crops
- Dryland Farming Techniques
- Plant ID
- Drip Irrigation: Set Up, Use, and Maintenance
- Planting and Managing for Biodiversity
- Compost Pile Construction & Turning
- Application of Compost and Other Soil Amendments
- Cover Cropping
- Crop Rotation
- Plant Nutrition Basics
- Proper Shrub & Tree Pruning Techniques
- Integrated Pest Management
- Seed saving
5:30–8:00 – Chores: Goat Milking // Caring for Chickens // Irrigating // Personal Time
8:00–9:00 – Self made breakfast
9:00–12:00 – Farm or Community Projects Time
12:00–2:00 – Self-made or collaborative Lunch // Siesta // Personal Time // Lunch Chores // Optional Projects
2:00–5:00 – Farm or Community Projects Time
5:00–6:00 – PM chores // Rest // Personal Time
6:00–7:30 –Community Dinner
7:30–8:30 – Personal Time // Lead Something you like for the community!: full moon night hike, games, crafts, music sharing, ecstatic dance, storytelling campfire, movie night, or learning to make fire by friction
8:30–10:00 – Optional Socializing // Bed-time
Our community is committed to risk mitigation of spreading covid in attempts to protect both our internal and external communities. We have community agreed upon guidelines and protocols to support these values, as well as a weekly committee that continues to evaluate and address our communities concerns as the infections continue to evolve and change. Being a part of our community means contributing and practicing these protocols with us. Currently, based on transmission rates, our community has agreed to begin a masking protocol of 7 days whenever one breaks distance outside of Quail Springs. We have agreed to wear masks at indoor spaces in public. This will be thoroughly addressed during the interview in which we can connect and you may share concerns and questions.
$100 non-refundable deposit upon acceptance. Financial assistance available. Contact us below for more info.
We ask all visitors and volunteers to adhere to our no drugs policy, and to smoke tobacco products only in the designated smoking areas as we are in a zone at high risk for wildfires. We understand that the use of cannabis is legal in many places, but we strive to maintain a cannabis free social setting. We also understand that this means living at Quail Springs may not be a fit for everyone.
Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate any new pets at this time.
Many are inspired to come to Quail Springs because of our Natural Building reputation. We now teach natural building methods online and enjoy small and occasional repair projects on-site, however it is important to share that we cannot currently build earthen buildings due to county-imposed restrictions to our site.
We are so grateful that you arrived here. We invite you to thoroughly read about our community and this position description. Please take your time to answer the questions in the form below intentionally so we can best get to know you. We welcome your questions and curiosities via the questions section below.
If your application is approved, we will set up interviews. We are hard-working folks on rural internet, so please be patient with response time. But also don’t hesitate to check back in on the status of your application.
Our Work Trade Director welcomes any questions about the application, our organization, or our community. If you are invited for an interview, there will be space for this as well. We look forward to hearing from you!
Once you begin, there is an initial two week trial period. During the trial period, work trade volunteers and the Quail Springs community can terminate the agreement.