In Mandala Farm’s apprentice program, we strive to create an atmosphere of learning while working. By participating in every aspect of the farm, apprentices learn many diverse skills and can hone their knowledge as well as discover what parts of farming they love.
Mandala Farm is a hundred acre farm with 17 acres of pasture, 20 acres recently reclaimed for pasture, a 60 acre woodlot. We have over 3 acres actively cultivated. The farm is located on Jones Pond with opportunities for boating, fishing, and swimming. The farm is 8 miles from the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park, 1 mile from the ocean, and a 45 minute drive to Bar Harbor, where there is a bustling summer crowd. The farm is located in Gouldsboro, a small, rural community.
On the farm itself we have a wide diversity in both animal and vegetable production. We have mixed livestock including:
Sheep for Fiber and Meat
Our small flock of ewes gives us enough wool to play with spinning, dying and knitting for those who wish to pursue some fiber experimentation. The ewes also give us lambs in the spring, which we sell as weanlings. The sheep are grazed rotationally through the summer with the goats and cows.
Cashmere Goats for Fiber and Meat
The cashmere goats are another fiber animal on the farm. The cashmere is the downy winter undercoat of these goats, which is combed out in the spring and processed into yarn or roving to spin. The male kid goats are raised for meat.
Our flock of between 150 to 200 birds provide us with eggs for our CSA and for market. These birds are given access to pastures using movable fencing.
We raise meat chickens in portable chicken tractors. These pens get moved each day to a new section of grass that the chickens fertilize as they eat the grass and bugs. We butcher chickens on the farm once a week throughout the summer. Apprentices are expected to take part in some aspect of this process.
We have four sows that we breed to raise and sell piglets. We raise Tamworth pigs, which are a heritage breed of red pig. We raise the piglets outdoors in moveable huts.
We have two family cows that are milked daily and supply enough milk for the farm and for making butter, cheese, and yogurt.
Norwegian Fjord Draft Horses
We use these unique horses to work on the farm. These horses are a small draft horse. We have some young horses in training as well as our older pair. Apprentices handle the horses daily, learning basic horse care and maintenance. Apprentices also learn to drive and will have the opportunity to work the horses in the garden by the end of the season. We have a training arena that is available for apprentices wishing to put in extra time practicing with the horses.
We have three acres of mixed vegetable production for a 40 member CSA, farm store, wholesale accounts and one farmer’s market. We raise a wide diversity of crops to fill the CSA and markets. Within each crop, we raise several varieties as well. We do all the plowing and cultivating with the horses. We have a small, unheated hoophouse that we use for tomatoes and peppers. Apprentices take part in starting seeds, garden prep, transplanting, cultivating, harvesting, and washing produce.
We do canning and preserving in the fall. In the fall we use cover crops to keep the soil nutrients in the gardens. We are Certified Organic through MOFGA for all the crops and some of the livestock.
During our busiest time of the year, the day will start approximately 6:30 am and go until approximately 5 pm. We will try to have dinner around 6:30 pm, with dinner prep and chore responsibility alternating.
We will work Monday through Friday, with half-days on Saturday. During the week, our schedule will include animal chores, field work, harvesting, processing poultry, and prepping for market: CSA pick-up and farmer’s market. We offer apprentices full room and board, and a small stipend each month.
Apprentices have a small, private cabin in the lower section of the farm fields, next to the gardens and close to the pond. Cabins may need to be shared by two apprentices. Our two cabins each have solar and gas lights, propane stove and oven, as well as seasonal running water. Each cabin has its own nearby outhouse, though apprentices also have access to the farm house’s apprentice bathroom, as well. We have a community dinner twice a week, and usually eat breakfast and lunch together at the farmhouse.
Sara and Genio live in the farmhouse with three dogs, their daughter, Enna and son, Ross.