Apprenticeship Program Participating Farms

Rominger Brothers Farms

Bruce & Rick Rominger
Winters, CA
4,000 acres

Rominger Brothers Farms (RBF) is a progressive, diversified family farm and ranch located north of Winters, California and run by fifth-generation Yolo County farmers Bruce and Rick Rominger. They produce many different crops, including wine grapes, grape rootstock, walnuts, almonds, processing tomatoes, rice, wheat, corn, sunflower seed, onion seed, and oat hay. Bruce and Rick lead a team of approximately 30 employees and farm a total of more than 3,400 irrigated acres. They also manage additional acres of non-irrigated pasture and rangeland.

Do you have a land ethic? If so, how do you express it? How do ecological and environmental considerations fit into your operational structure and decision making?
We are committed to growing crops in ways that protect the environment and preserve the viability and beauty of the land for future generations. We are the benefactors of thoughtful land stewardship from generations past, and intend to manage our land in such a way that it will continue to be productive for generations to come. In addition to supporting the productivity of the agricultural lands that we own or manage, we have also made significant investments in boosting the ability of our non-crop lands to provide wildlife habitat and a myriad of other ecosystem services that benefit the community at-large. We have worked to restore native grasslands and riparian corridors, and have also installed miles of native plant hedgerows to diversify the local ecosystem and support native pollinators. We have also placed conservation easements on large swaths of rangeland in order to permanently protect it from development.

Each year as part of our strategic planning process for the next season, we make decisions about crop rotations, cover crops, tillage, and nutrient management with the goal of minimizing negative impacts on the environment. Rominger Brothers Farms has been recognized for pioneering and employing environmentally-friendly practices such as minimizing the use of crop protection materials, converting to drip irrigation to conserve water, and grazing crop residues with sheep. We are also committed to supporting ecological research and agricultural innovation, and have hosted numerous university trials and research studies over the years.

What are the most important considerations in your everyday work on your farm?
We balance two main goals on a daily basis: 1) Ensuring that the current season is as successful and productive as possible and 2) Staying viable and competitive over the long term.

In order to ensure that we have a successful growing season this year, we focus on boosting yields via timely operations and the careful management of water, nutrients, pest and disease. We also work to ensure that our good yields will pay off by negotiating fair prices and contracts, making strategic investments in inputs and equipment, and striving to make our operations more efficient.

Staying viable and competitive for the long term also weighs heavily in our daily decision making because we intend to be farming the same ground for generations to come. This long term goal motivates us to focus on the environmental sustainability of our operation and make decisions that will protect our soil and water resources, pollinators, and the overall ecosystem in which we farm. We are continuously exploring new crops and markets and investing in new technologies or equipment that can help us remain competitive in the face of a changing climate and evolving world market for commodity crops. We also make investments in retaining and supporting our employees to ensure that we have the labor force, knowledge, and experience needed to make the farm run smoothly each day.

Apprentice skills/abilities:
Apprentices do not need to have significant prior experience working on farms in order to make a contribution at RBF. They do, however, need to demonstrate the following personal qualities:

Humility: Apprentices will be working alongside employees with more than 20 years of experience at the same farm. They should be ready to listen and learn from coworkers in addition to their direct manager.
Patience: Apprentices should be prepared for some tasks to be challenging, uncomfortable or tedious.
Quick learner: Be willing to learn and execute any task on the farm- from hoeing weeds and irrigating fields to harvesting crops, operating and maintaining equipment, and working on administrative tasks in the office.
Efficiency: Work consistently and efficiently to help keep the farm operation running smoothly.
Initiative: Take initiative to advance your own learning and proactively identify gaps or needs on the farm where you can help.
Spanish language: Spanish is not a strict requirement, but a working knowledge of Spanish will make communication much easier and help you feel more comfortable on the job. If you do not already know Spanish we will expect that you make an effort to learn.
Serious interest: We are looking for people who are serious about building a career in agriculture—not just gaining a brief experience. Prior knowledge of agricultural systems, crop production, or equipment operation would be helpful, but are not a requirement.

Housing + meals:
• Meals are not provided. All employees are required to take a 30 minute (unpaid) lunch in the middle of the day, and are also entitled to additional paid (10-15 minute) breaks scheduled throughout the day.
• We do not provide housing but may be able to assist an apprentice in securing housing locally.

General work schedule and time off:
• During the peak growing season (roughly April-September) we work Monday-Saturday from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Hours reduce during the shoulder seasons—typically from 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
• We offer 3 paid sick days per year and the flexibility to take additional unpaid time off work if the need arises due to illness, family commitments, appointments, etc.
• We do not offer paid vacation time but vacations are possible if discussed far enough in advance. Many employees take 4-6 weeks off (unpaid) during the winter months.

Health insurance:
• We provide Worker’s Compensation for all employees in case of a workplace injury.
• There are no additional health insurance benefits.

Dog/Pet allowed:
• On a case-by-case basis, apprentices may be able to bring a pet with them to work.
• Pets need to be controlled at all times. Owners must clean up after pets and keep them away from any fresh produce in accordance with the farm’s Food Safety rules.

• The farm will provide fuel and a pick-up truck for employees to use during work hours for work purposes.
• Employees should be prepared to drive manual transmission vehicles (or at least prepared to learn on-the-job).

Visitors are welcome on the farm provided that an employee has made a prior request.

Motivation for participating in the apprenticeship program:
Train the next generation of farmers and farm managers.

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