[Snakeroot Organic Farm logo]
 • What's New Here
 • Snakeroot Poultry

 • About Our Farm
 • Annual Farm Tour
 • Community Supported
    Agriculture Plan (CSA)
Directions to our Farm
 • From a Run Out Hayfield to
    a Prosperous Organic Farm
    in Ten Easy Years

 • Get Real. Get Organic!
 • History of Our Farm
 • Pictures of the Farm
 • Where We Buy
 • Where We Sell
 • Our Yearly Work Schedule
 • Just Pretty
 • Subscribe to our e-newsletter.
 • Newsletter Archive.
 • What We Will & Won't Ship

 • Working Here
 • Our Apprentices
 • Our Farm Workers
 • Pictures of Us at Market

 • Fresh Vegetables
 • Fresh Fruit
 • Fresh Herbs
 • Perennials
 • Aloe - a magical plant
 • Our Bird Houses
 • Lupines
 • Rosemary Plants
 • Lovage, Tansy & Yarrow
 • Our Product Brochures
 • Dried Vegetables
 • Dried Culinary Herbs
 • Maple Syrup
 • Maple Syrup, p.2
 • Sugarin' Is Like Ice Fishin'
 • Our New Sugarhouse
 • Tomato Seedlings
 • Tomato Seeds We Offer
 • Tomato Seed Production
 • Paste Tomatoes
 • About Garlic
 • Garlic for Sale
 • Garlic Year Round
 • Mulching Garlic
 • Growing Rounds from Bulbils
 • Whole Bulbil Cluster Method
 • Planting Garlic

 • Using Mulches
 • Combatting Quackgrass
    with Mulch

 • We Want Your Leaves!
 • In Praise of Chips

 • Buying in Bulk for
    Storage, Canning & Freezing

 • Winter Storage Tips
 • How to Freeze Our Veggies
 • Building Techniques
 • Our Outbuildings
 • Evolution of the Farm Table
 • The Story of Our Cooler
 • Prepping Veggies for Market
 • Crop Rotations
 • Drip Irrigation
 • Low Pressure Water
 • Planting with Spreadsheets
 • Greenhouse Vegetable

 • Let-tuce Begin
 • Recipe Favorites
 • Our "Remay Roller"
 • Gardening Class Notes
 • Your Most Expensive Crop

 • Being Green
 • Digging Potatoes by Hand
 • Farmers' Markets in 2012
 • History of Pittsfield
 • Hybrids or Open Pollinated?
 • Making Websites
 • Open Source Software

    Our Retirement Plan
 • How Should a Farmer Retire?
 • Impediments to the want-to-be     farmer
 • Reducing the Value
    of the Land

 • Who Will Farm Here When
    We're Gone?

 • Apprentice Terms and Stages
 • From Apprentices to Partners
 • Transferring Farm Ownership

…and now for something completely different…

At dawn
Canoe bow waves are quickly lost
    on the shoreside
But go on out of sight
    on the lake side.


The constant swish-swish of skis
    On a day long ski.
The constant swish-swish of wiper blades
    On a day long drive.


My dog, trotting barefoot
Steps on a garden slug
And thinks
Nothing of it.


Word spreads quickly
as I approach the pond.
All becomes quiet.


Hidden in the vines
a large warted cucumber
jumps out of reach.
A toad!


Delicate puffs
of marshmallow snow
carefully perched
on a branch,
await the trigger of my hat
to melt their way down my back.

Deep in the tomato jungle
Fruits of yellow, purple and red
Tell of their readiness
To go to market.

Sugarin' Chores
Snowflakes hurry through my flashlight beam,
As my boots knead new snow with spring mud,
On my nightly Hajj to keep the boil alive,
For as long as possible until the dawn,
To match the power of the flowing sap,
With my meager evaporator and will.
The prize at the finish line are jars of syrup
And Spring.


This document was begun in 2000 with major revisions and expansions made in 2008.

Snakeroot Organic Farm

Farmers' Retirement Plan
Thinking about farm succession . . .

(A work in progress)

Apprentice Terms

[Note: This section is from the original 2000 plan and is left here for historcial purposes. For an up-to-date (2008) version of what we are doing see From Apprentices to Partners.]

While still in the early development stages, this is what we have come up with so far.

Since the long-term view is for the apprentice to eventually own and operate the farm business at some point in the future, a staged annual progression of responsibility and payments will work toward this goal.

During the first two years there will be no ownership or equity in the farm accumulated by the apprentice. Thereafter, a gradual increase in ownership of the farm as a whole (equipment & farm business) will accrue to the apprentice via a process yet to be determined.

At the end of each year, both farmers and apprentices will evaluate the situation, and will be the basis for the decision whether to continue with the relationship.

Apprentices live at the farm, do not have to pay rent, and are available to work as and when needed (see our Work Schedule).

Pay can either be during the heavy work season or spread out over the entire year. The total amount will be the same. Payment can be either weekly or monthly. We suggest off-season employment off the farm if more income is necessary. That's what we do, as do many small farmers.

Apprentice income will reflect a growing equity in the farm. Hence a portion of their income will be in cash and a portion in farm equity.

Apprentices will have their own quarters, a cabin suitable for at least three seasons, which we will help them build in a mutually agreed-upon location. Better quarters may become available or be built in future.

It is possible that there may be apprentices at different stages of the program at any one time. We are looking for two or three people altogether. There may also be occasional outside hired labor at any time during the year. Apprentices may also have outside jobs which do not have a net detraction upon their involvement in the operation of the farm.

Ideally farmers and 5+year apprentices will be spending a few years in full partnership prior to farmers entering into retirement mode.


Apprentice Stages

The following are ideas about how an apprentice is transformed into a farm owner. Details of each year may be changed based on actual experiences.

Initial Phase:

Year One: Stipend, room & board, planning, farm work, marketing. Begin building a 3-season apprentice cabin with on-farm and recycled materials and with minimal purchases.

Year Two: Same as year one, but with expanded responsibilities. Up to the end of this stage, apprentice relationship may be terminated by either party without expectations of equity having been built up.

Middle Phase:

Year Three: Room & board, planning, farmwork, marketing, share of the profits (or debts), participation in farm management. Gradual integration of apprentice's expenses and income with the farm's.

Year Four: Apprentice takes responsibility for at least one entire crop or garden of their choosing.

Final Phase:

Year Five: Becoming a full partner in the farm, including ownership of farm assets.

27 Organic Farm Road, Pittsfield Maine 04967
owned and operated by
Tom Roberts & Lois Labbe
Tom: Tom@snakeroot.net (cell) 207-416-5417
Lois: Lois@snakeroot.net (cell) 207-416-5418

Gardening for the public since 1995.

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