Organic Farming Internship Programme - Horticulture


Organic Farming Internship Programme - Horticulture

January 2018

CLOSING DATE: Friday 23rd of February

About the programme.

 This work placement will involve a minimum of 30 hours a week work over a six month period on a well-established organic, horticultural farm in Ireland. The participants will be employed by the individual farms directly, and will be supported by a formal training programme which is being funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine. This high quality training programme will bring together in a formal framework, what the apprentices are learning practically on a day to day basis on the farm. The apprentices are employed directly by the farms and the OGI oversee the recruitment and delivery of the training and certification

Central Aim of the Organic Farming Internship Programme - Horticulture

Provide a high standard of practical skills and knowledge transfer with the aim of leading to employment within organic horticulture

·      Develop an understanding of sustainable organic systems of farming based upon biological and environmental concepts

·      Develop an understanding of the economics of running a successful horticultural enterprise

·      Set the groundwork and knowledge base for running an on-going Organic Farming Internship Programme 

The programme aims to stimulate the personal development and confidence of trainees, in their own ability to think for themselves and embrace new technologies. The programme will help bridge the gap between students who have completed horticultural courses, or have some practical work experience, and give them the confidence to start up their own horticultural enterprise, or take on the management of an existing horticultural enterprise.


Eligibility Criteria

Applicants for the Programme will either have completed a Level 5 FETAC qualification in horticulture, or have a minimum of one year work experience on a farm.



A Certificate of Completion for the Internship Programme will be issued from the Organic Growers of Ireland on successfully completing the work placement on their host farm, attending all workshops and farm walks, completing the 25 hour block course on Organic principles, Standards & Certification as well as completing their written project on a chosen crop.

Formal Training within the Organic Farming Internship programme - Horticulture

The Programme will incorporate a formal training programme of six workshops over the period of the Internship. The workshops will be given by outside experts on core set subjects and each workshop will be of one day’s duration. The workshops will be based on a structured syllabus, covering the technical knowledge and economic managementrequired for good crop production, as well as sales and marketing options and strategies. 

·      A series of six farm walks on each of the host farms, looking in depth at one crop which work well for that host farm

·      A 25 hour block course on will focus on Organic principles, Standards & Certification and the apprentices should produce a conversion plan for an organic enterprise.

Role of the OGI in the Organic Farming Internship Programme - Horticulture

The OGI have formed a steering committee to oversee the management of the Programme. The day to day running of the Programme is being managed by the Co-ordinator for the Programme – Noel Clinton, and he is the contact person for all enquiries.

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Role of the Host Farm in the Organic Farming Internship Programme - Horticulture

Provide paid employment according to the national minimum wage standards for employees on a structured training programme, see appendix below

·      Ensure the farm is a safe place to work, and that good health and safety procedures are adhered to

·      Provide a minimum of 30 hours’ work per week for a minimum of six months

·      Provide the opportunity to work in as many different areas of production as possible, as well as explaining the business planning, budgeting, marketing and longer term planning of the business

·      Provide regular one to one mentoring

·      Allow flexibility for trainees to attend formal training days associated with the Internship Programme

·       Host one farm walk on their own farm for all apprentices


Minimum Wage Standards


The National Minimum Wage Act also provides sub-minimum rates which apply to employees who are over 18 and undergoing a course of structured training or directed study that is authorised or approved of by the employer.

Since 1 January 2016 the trainee rates provided by the Act are as follows, see also 'Rates' below:

  • First one-third of training course €7.17 per hour (75% of national minimum wage rate)
  • Second one-third of training course €7.64 per hour (80% of national minimum wage rate)
  • Final one third of the training course €8.60 per hour (90% of national minimum wage rate)

Note: each one third period must be at least one month and no more than one year.

The Act provides certain criteria which the training course must meet if the trainee rates are to apply. For example, the training or study must be for the purposes of improving the work performance of the employee; the employee's participation on the training or study must be directed or approved by the employer; at least 10% of the training must occur away from the employee’s ordinary operational duties; there must be an assessment and certification procedure or written confirmation on the completion of the training course.

Brief outline of the host farms, more detail on the farm profiles

Beechlawn Organic Farm, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway

Established in 2002 we started with one acre of veg and in 2015 grew 25 acres with a further 20 in conversion and in green manure. We employ ten full time people, have two tractors, two vans and fifteen or so pieces of farm machinery along with a veg pack house, two cold rooms and 20,000 square foot o polytunnels. We also have a 11kw wind turbine, a passive farm house with solar panels. We started selling through our box scheme, moved into farmer’s markets and then gradually into wholesaling mostly. We deliver to 50 or so shops restaurants and supermarkets and deliver 50 veg boxes a week. We supply farmers market traders, restaurants and other food businesses also.


Castleruddery Organic Farm, Donnard, Co. Wicklow

Established in 1989. We now crop approx 2.5Ha with 1,000 M. sq. poly-tunnels. We employ two part-time staff. We have a vegetable pack house and a cold room. We have lots of machinery including a bed former, planter, flame weeder, seeder, plastic laying machine, brush weeder, and more. We attend the Naas farmer’s market on Saturdays and open our farm shop Fridays. We also supply restaurants and import produce for re-sale. Most propagation takes place on the farm. Crops include the following:- tomato, courgette, cucumber, baby leaves, lettuce, parsley, herbs, carrots, parsnip, swede, leeks, broad beans, globe and Jerusalem artichoke, chard, beetroot, scallions, kales, cabbages, broccoli and more. We are certified by the Organic Trust CLG


Glasraí, Lehinch, Hollymount, Co.Mayo 

We are a relatively small farm of 3 acres, 2 years in business and growing and learning rapidly. We grow a wide range of vegetables, keep chickens and have one beehive. Our farm takes a holistic approach to horticulture integrating healthy soils and biodiversity into a commercial enterprise. We believe that healthy soils and eco-systems grow healthy crops that can withstand pests and disease. Currently we are using a tractor and various bits of machinery however plan to switch to minimal-dig methods over the next 2 years. This year we are researching soil micro-biology, compost management and no dig approaches as well as exploring some aspects of biodynamics. We are planning to begin our long term compost plan this year. We are a very family oriented farm, with two young children, wwoofers, part time employees and family popping in and out. WE are still working on farm infrastructure and our third polytunnel has yet to be built and we are finishing the packing shed. We are in organic conversion.


Greenearth Organics, Corrandulla, Co. Galway

The farm went into organic conversion in 2004 and we currently farm on 25 acres of organically certified land of which 13 to 15 acres is under organic vegetable production any given year while the rest consists of a wild life biodiversity area, native woodland forestry (3000 trees), a native orchard and red clover grassland ley.

There are also 2 dogs, a horse and a pony. The farm was farmed by Kenneth’s father and grandfather before him in the traditional manner although not certified but with minimal artificial inputs. Kenneth brought the farm into certified organic production in 2006 and delivered the first vegetable boxes from a 1 acre plot in the summer of that year. Since those humble beginnings, the home delivery service has grown into one of the biggest organic home delivery schemes in the country delivering direct to homes in Galway, the greater Dublin area, Limerick, Clifden, Westport, Castlebar and more while also selling nationwide using a courier service. The main drivers behind the business success is in the consistent quality of the produce put in our boxes especially from the farm. There is always room for improvement and we would view the right candidate as being a crucial element in increasing and improving the propagation, development and care of our vegetable range especially our protected crops.


Irish Seed Savers Association, Capparoe, Scarriff, Co. Clare

20 acre organic working farm containing heritage seed gardens and heritage orchards, as well as the country’s public seed bank. Our work focuses on food conservation of rare and heritage open pollinated vegetable and flower seeds and seven acres of heritage apple trees. We research native and heritage varieties for conservation as well as making them available to the general public through online and in-store sales. We have 21 staff focusing on seeds, trees, education, marketing, sales and outreach. This apprenticeship programme will enable us to train more people to connect with our work as well as provide opportunities for organic students to continue on protecting our food sovereignty.


Moyleabbey Organic Farm, Ballitore Co Kildare

I grow 18 vegetable crops and 3 fruit crops on 5 acres annually. The rest of the land is in a two-year green manure ley. There are no farmed animals on the holding. We take volunteers through WWOOF from February to December. The farm is managed by myself, with the help of Louise who completed the Internship Programme in 2016, with occasional casual part time employees as well as volunteers who come here through WWOOF. Our focus here is very much on growing to sell direct with a small amount of wholesaling. See Video on home page of website


Nurney Farm, Edenderry, Co. Kildare

We have been organic farming our 12.5ha since 1990. We grow a wide range of crops for our market stalls, some wholesaling and supplying other market stalls. The work on the farm involves everything in the production of the crops from sowing the seeds to harvesting and preparing for markets. There will also be an opportunity to work on our stalls and gain valuable market experience. One of us is always at work on the farm and available to demonstrate or ask questions. The area under vegetables is approx. 7.5ha as we must follow a 4-year rotation. We also grow our own wheat to feed our 350 laying hens. We use the 1000m2 of tunnels for cucumbers, tomatoes and salads and for propagation.  The plan in 2017 is to build a 1500m2 glasshouse for early and late crop production. Where possible the field work is mechanised as much as possible, although there is still a lot of hand work.

Riverfield Farm, Callan, Co. Kilkenny


Our farm is based outside Callan in Co.Kilkenny. We grow approximately 5 acres of field vegetables. We also have three tunnels which are used for propagation while in the summer we grow tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, french beans and basil indoors and spinach and salad leaves during the winter months. We grow a wide variety of vegetables outdoors. Our main market is a weekly veg box delivery service and we also supply a number of restaurants . Work on the farm is varied and tasks change as the season progresses. We carry out most of our own propagation so work on the farm involves seed sowing, planting, weeding, harvesting  and packing vegetables for sale. Work is carried out with a combination of hand tools and tractor driven machinery.





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Organic Farming Internship

The Organic Growers of Ireland are seeking applications for the Organic Farming Internship Programme in Horticulture.

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