Apprenticeship Program Participating Farms

Benden Farms

Ben & Denise Carter
Colusa, CA
3,000 acres



Benden Farms was founded by Ben & Denise Carter in 1993 on land that has been in the family for three generations. The diversified operation encompasses approximately 3,000 acres, 1/3 of which is CCOF certified organic that grows mostly for the wholesale market on contract. Crops include organic rice, dry beans, wheat vineseed & herb crops, along with conventional crops of sunflower, dry beans, prunes, walnuts, wheat. There is also a small beef cow-calf operation, seasonal duck club and warehouse. Benden Farms is a family run business with Ben doing the management of the farm along with the land holding entities, and Denise does the bookkeeping and regulatory paperwork. Our son has just returned to the farm to assist us in day to day operations. We have a predominantly Spanish speaking employee base of approximately 12 individuals who work year-round, and 18-20 during the peak season. We hire labor contractors for intensive hoeing and pruning work.

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?
Safety, conservation & sustainability are important parts of the fabric of Benden Farms. We employ Integrated Pest Management (IPM) best practices throughout the farm for the least possible hazard to people and the environment. We have established hedgerows to provide habitat for native pollinators and beneficial insects; we winter flood the rice fields for straw decomposition and migratory bird habitat; we employ water recycling systems and micro-sprinklers for irrigation. Additional conservation activities include solar electric generation for our energy needs and recycling of our by-products and waste.

What are the most important considerations in your everyday work on your farm?
We believe in taking care of the land, nourishing the soil through crop rotation, grazing and cover cropping to keep the farm producing for future generations.

Apprentice skills/abilities:
We are looking for an apprentice that will want to learn about the farming business from the bottom up, and do what is necessary to get the crops to harvest. Apprentices should want a broad perspective on agriculture that includes all aspects of running the business. There will be office work opportunities to work on regulatory compliance issues in water (surface, groundwater, irrigated lands program), safety, as well as conservation and sustainability programs, budgeting, and website/social media outreach. A working knowledge of Microsoft Office applications is helpful.

General work schedule and time off:
Hours are typically 6 days per week, 10 hours per day. During planting and harvest, Sunday work is expected sometimes, along with longer days of work. Some holidays we work, others we do not. All hours will be paid in accordance with California Ag labor code.

Health insurance:
Not provided.

Housing + meals:
Not provided.

Pets:

Vehicles:
Knowledge of operating a manual transmission is helpful but not necessary.

Visitors:

Motivation for participating in the apprenticeship program:
We believe that “Farmers Feed the World” and the United States grows the safest fruits, vegetables and livestock. We believe food security is important to our country and view our participation in this program as a way to help feed the world today and in the future.

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