During the interview and decision-making process, it is sometimes difficult to think of all the situations that might come up during a farm work experience. A complete interview and selection process can establish the clear boundaries and expectations needed for a successful employment situation.
OEFFA encourages in person on-farm interviews. During an interview, each party should be as clear as possible about their needs.
OEFFA recommends that both Host Farms and Farm Job Seekers share references to evaluate trustworthiness, competence, and character. Remember that OEFFA does not screen Host Farms or Farm Job Seekers, other than to remove spam listings. Participants need to take full responsibility for this.
When negotiating an employment agreement, try to establish a clear set of mutual expectations regarding work and education, including what will happen when the unexpected inevitably occurs. The questions in the guide below may help you think through potential issues before they arise.
- How many hours a day? Week? Month?
- Amount of time off? During the day? Per week?
- How regular/irregular and flexible/inflexible is the work schedule? Which times/days/hours is work almost always expected? Which times/days/hours are more open to scheduling of another part-time job, doctor’s appointments, recreational opportunities, social events, or visits?
- What seasonal activities may affect time off, such as lambing, haying, etc.?
- What are usual quitting and rising times, breaks during the day, etc.?
- Are there recreational facilities (on and off farm) available? Are there local opportunities to meet and socialize with friends or peers in the area?
- Does either party have commitments (wedding, family vacation, part-time job) that will take them off the farm and out of work?
- What wage is being offered? How often or at what intervals will payment be made?
- Will the worker be reimbursed for gas or expenses for making deliveries, running errands, etc. in his/her own vehicle?
- Is workers compensation insurance provided? (This is mandatory under Ohio law, and a notice of coverage should be posted in a visible place on the farm.)
Workings of the Farm
- Will the worker be interacting with livestock? Are there any philosophical, ethical, health, or safety concerns?
- Does the farmer have any routine expectations of the worker during time off or in case he/she is absent from the farm (monitoring livestock or greenhouse, etc.)?
- Who will provide work clothing and equipment needed (boots, rain gear, etc.)?
- How will emergencies be handled?
- Is the worker expected to use the farmer’s vehicle for farm-related use?
- How will conflicts be resolved?
- Does either party have relevant allergies?
- How are meals handled? If there’s shared cooking, who purchases food, where can food be stored, and are there rules about using the kitchen?
- Are there chronic health problems that may affect work performance?
- Are there smoking, drug, and alcohol rules?
- Who provides health insurance? (Note: A current tetanus vaccination is highly recommended for all farm work. Check medical records and update, if needed.)
- How will the employee be properly instructed in use of equipment and other safety/health issues?
- Is the worker physically able to handle the labor and lifting required?
- Where is a first-aid kit and nearest medical center?
- Is there on-farm housing? Are the quarters satisfactorily private? Comfortable? Have adequate storage? What are the temperature control methods? Should or could you bring your own fan, musical instruments, or personal music players? What common areas are there for you to use for relaxing, entertainment, etc.?
- If on-farm housing is not provided, is there a space to relax during breaks? Can work-related clothing and gear be stored on the farm?
- Will meals be eaten together? What are the cooking and clean-up responsibilities? Are there dietary restrictions?
- What are the limits to employee use of host property including phones, computers, musical instruments, stereos, televisions, vehicles, etc.?
Education (for farms offering educational experiences)
- What experiences, training, or education do parties contribute to the farm?
- What does the farm worker want to learn from this experience? (OEFFA can provide templates to define a learning plan.)
- What is the farmer able to teach?
- What books, magazines, or online resources on sustainable agriculture are available to read and discuss with the farmer during non-work hours? Will there be regularly scheduled educational times during the week?
- What other resources (field trips to other farms, businesses, seminars, or workshops) can be arranged to meet educational goals, particularly in areas of interest where the farmer lacks personal expertise?
- What are the long-term personal and career goals of each party?