Talking Hill farm

Interning at Talking Hill can lift you to new heighths

 

Three six week Internships- We understand that it can be difficult to clear 6 months out of your schedule and move to an unfamiliar rural environment. We are offering three six week internships over the course of the summer, each with their own focus yet with plenty of overlap and integration.

Maple sugaring- February 1st - March 7th

First 6 weeks- "Honeymoon period" - (approximately from April 15th- June 15th)- Planting, grafting, setting up

Second 6 weeks- "Maintenace is love"- (June 15th- August 15th)- caring and maintaning crops and ushering them into fruition

Third 6 weeks- "Horn of plenty"-(August 15th - November 1st) -harvesting, processing and marketing

Located in the green rolling hills of Monroe County West Virginia, Talking Hill Farm sits on the backside of Swoope’s Knobs about 2300 feet above sea level looking over 4 different counties of south east WV. Monroe county boasts of not having any trafiic lights. We live 15 minutes from Union, the county seat, that did have a blinking light for alittle while, but folks felt like it was overkill. More like Virginia, our area is in the Karst limestone region of the Allegheny mountains.

Who we are:
Monica is an amazing horticulturist. With a horticultural degree and 17 plus years of gardening, nursery work, landscaping and permaculture behind her she is a well spring of knowledge about plants. She runs about 1/2 acre of biodynamic annual beds for ourselves and seed production mostly marketed to Southern Exposure Seeds and Sow True Seeds. What is in abundance we sell at the local tailgate markets with our fruit. We participate in the Lewisburg, WV farmers market, the Monroe farmers market (online), and the Blacksburg, Va farmers market. as well as wholeselling in Charlottesville, Va, and retailing in Asheville, NC.

Bill homesteaded here in the early eighties and planted 2 acres of pear trees which he has tended organically and sells regionally as one (if any) of the only European pear producers in the region. He has incoporated a biodynamic regime with the trees for the last 4 years. Sad but true, his 2 acres of pears represent 1/10th of the entire commercial pear crop in WV. In the last 8 years he has planted extensive perennials around the farm. Nuts, natives, 87 varieties of pears , and a cider orchard take up about 7 more acres of plantings. The last 2 years he has initiated woodland grafting in which he is improving the genetics of his woodlot by grafting improved varieties of hickories, black walnuts and oaks. He is experimenting with eleagnus and honeysuckle. In the winter he presents provocative agrarian topics through farm conferences and his fruit school, organizes community edible parks, makes his wiplstix travel violin (wiplstix.com).

What to expect as an intern: We are looking for a person/ people who have good communication skills, are self motivated, hard working, enthusiastic about diversified rural living, creative, fun loving, love to experiment, eat well, active contributors to their community... We are not keen on drugs, but do like to partake in the consumption of very moderate amounts of homebrew. Pets would be considered but not sought after. The hours we work vary. Usually starting early, then with a siesta during the heat of the day and recommencing in the afternoon until dusk. For our sharing of knowledge and experience, we would expect a minimum of 6 hours of work/day 5 days a week or 30 hours over a week. For the six week stints as an intern there would be no monetary compensation. If a person was interested in staying on longer, and the mutual arrangement proved useful to both parties, a stipend would be negotiated. We are not production annual farmers. We are very diversified and often go between many projects in a day.

Accommodations are rustic. We have 180 acres which dip and dive in and out of deep woods and fields. Right now we have camping and barns for accomodations and an outside kitchen. Where we live has relatively few annoying bugs so summers outside are quite pleasant. One project this year will be to build a small cabin for guests and interns. Do you want to learn building skills?


For recreation we have 5 ponds, 160 acres of woods, creek and waterfalls. We are about 1.5 hours from the New River Gorge and Cranberry wilderness. About an hour from Blacksburg,Va and 40 minutes from Lewisburg, WV (voted “coolest small town in America” by some obscure travel magazine a few years back). It is a fun little town with some alternative community folks, lots of arts per capita, and home of one of our Farmer’s markets.

A year at Talking Hill: The season starts in February with putting in about a 250 maple taps and boiling the sap down. Then around April we begin preparation for the annual beds, and Bill is doing some of his dormant and bloom sprays in the orchards, and prepping trees for the growing season. May is planting time in the garden and June is marked with mowing and haying leading into the cherry and berry harvest in July. Summer progresses on with garden work, irrigation, and misc. building and maintenance projects. Things pick up in the end of the summer with the pear harvest and marketing, and then its seed and food processing in the Fall until apple harvest and filling the cider barrel in October.

References- Its imperative that we embark on this journey together knowing as much about each other as possible to assure every chance we can for having a safe, fun, productive, expansive, learning experience. A previous intern, Tom, is willing to correspond with anyone who has questions about Talking Hill Farm and what it might be like to work with Monica and I in West Virginia. His email is: tknaust@gmail.com

Monica at the barn garden in early summer. Talking Hill in the background.

Pears in Bloom

Pears in Summer