working on an organic veggie farm.... with toddler? any experiences? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 06-16-2011, 07:11 PM - Thread Starter
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So... I may have the opportunity to work on an organic vegetable and chicken farm.  A friend of mine works there, told me they need extra hands and that if I show up and can do the work, I'm basically hired.  It's a really small family operation.   I will only be able to do it if I can bring DD with me, and I assume that if I can't keep up, I won't be kept on.  I'm in good physical shape, and I raised chickens and had a garden as a teen, and I do a little gardening now, so I'm not totally out of the loop.  But is this insane to consider?  Anyone else done this?  I have a wrap and can borrow an Ergo.  And I'm confident I can handle DD while doing something physical she can see and understand because this is what we do all day long.  Whatever task I'm doing, she is either watching or doing it.  And the more physical, repetive tasks we do, the happier she is.  I guess this is another reason I was even considering this idea - in addition to the pay and the food bonuses, of course!  I was thinking of stopping by next week to see what's good.

DD1 6/2009 DD2 5/1/2013-5/5/2013 (HIE) DS 3/2014
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#2 of 6 Old 06-16-2011, 07:20 PM
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Based on my experiences and my child's personality, I wouldn't do it.  Farms aren't really safe for little kids to run around and you probably won't get much work done.  I used to try and volunteer at our community garden with DD when she was a toddler and we almost always made more work than we did.  She wanted to "help" but usually ended up pulling plants that weren't ready to be harvested or making a different kind of mess- she also wouldn't tolerate staying in a stroller or on my back.  If they had a separate area with a sand box or something that might work, but I'm pretty doubtful. 


One CSA we were considering actually had a no small child policy because they felt the equipment was so dangerous that it had the potential to be a liability.

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#3 of 6 Old 06-17-2011, 05:04 AM
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Oh my gosh, all kids are different of course, but I would never attempt any job with my DD!! (Except maybe daycare or something lol). My DD is well behaved and interested in "doing" grown up jobs as well but definitely no. I guess it wouldn't hurt to try though!

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#4 of 6 Old 06-18-2011, 08:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, after reading a couple extension guides on kids on the farm, I'm gonna agree with you guys.  It just wouldn't be safe for DD to come with me, so I'm going to pass on this one.  <aybe when she's older!

DD1 6/2009 DD2 5/1/2013-5/5/2013 (HIE) DS 3/2014
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#5 of 6 Old 08-03-2011, 12:06 AM
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I know that this is an older thread but I hope that if you get the chance to do something like this again, you might reconsider!


I am a small farmer, organic in nature, of veggies and small livestock. (sheep, goats, chickens, the like)  My husband and I have two little ones, nearly 4 and nearly 2 in October.  We started working on various farms when our first was just a few months old.  I know that the situation might be a bit different since it's the farmer's who have the kids, not a helper or employee buuut....


Every farm and every child is different.  It would totally be worth it to go to the farm before your planned start day and talk with the folks in charge about their feelings about the child being present.  Make it known that if children end up not working out nobody will be upset.  If farmers are ok to try it out then go for it if you think your child can deal with it.  the only trouble age i've seen for children and work getting done is that frustrating in-between stage of locomotion and as young toddlers where rules don't seem to apply.  it might still work even then.  lots of small children grow up or visit farms and everyone comes out happy.


the rules must be known, stay on the hard dirt, not plants, don't go anywhere near the tractor, whatever the rules need to be.  otherwise, let them get dirty.  our bath water at the end of a day is always black.  literally.  their clothes are always muddy or dirt encrusted and I can hardly tell that they're my kids some days.  They love it.  They are learning all kinds of new ways to be creative.


If there are other people close by who don't mind chidlets, don't be afraid to allow your child to engage them.  especially if you might start being there more often or more regularly.  your child has something different to look forward to.  sometimes they behave better when allowed to tail other people for short periods.  (and you get a child-free break of productivity!)


I've noticed with our girls that there is a certain age where they can't help but destroy.  we account for a certain amount of destruction and otherwise do our best to keep that child (about 18mo.) out of newly tilled and planted areas, away from easy to pick green tomatoes, generally away from easy destruction.  Our older one, was wonderful after hitting 2 years old but she was an early walker and whatnot.  she was then big enough to mostly keep up, understand the rules with livestock, understand some basic staying out of trouble rules. as far as livestock goes, ANY livestock has the potential to be dangerous.  once the livestock begin to understand just what your child is and what the rules are, and your child understands the rules, everyone should be fine under close supervision.


On our farm, we have a small "play yard" that has some toys and is the general corral for all toys that we can contain our girls in for times when the tractor IS out and doing work.  with little ones, running machinery is simply too dangerous and children cannot comprehend the danger of papa not noticing them nearby when they shouldn't be.  Generally though we don't need to use the tractor much so it's not a big deal.


Long and short of it all: check out the farm, if it and your child might go well together, do it!  it's a WONDERFUL experience that i wish I could give to every child (and grownup!!!)  Our farm would welcome a caregiver and child for working as long as work is being accomplished and child isn't trouble.  Good luck and I hope that you find a farm to become a part of in any way. 

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Farming mama to DD1 (10/18/07), DD2 (10/3/09) who are always DS born 8.21.14 and wife to loving hubby (6/23/2007).
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#6 of 6 Old 08-04-2011, 08:19 PM
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Just chiming in to say that I have done some farm work with my little ones in tow. I didn't do full shifts, just 4 hours at a time, but it worked out fine. I collected eggs, washed eggs, weeded, harvested, packed and sorted produce with my little one either on my back or "helping". It is not totally ideal, but in our area farm help is very hard to find, so it wasn't a huge issue. Yes, there are some areas like the packing where house where kids are not allowed, but since there was plenty of other stuff to be done my inability to work there was a non-issue.

CD'ing, homebirthing, milk making school teacher. Supporting my family on my income and trying to get out of debt in 2013!
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