Summer 2024 Kitchen Garden Trainee Volunteer Role

“Some For the Birds, Some for the Bugs and Some for Us”

Here in Asthall Manor Kitchen Garden we are growing healthy, wildlife-friendly and people-friendly food using Organic methods and Permaculture principles. We grow a wide variety of salad leaves, annual and perennial vegetables and a variety of soft fruit and top fruits for a fledgling but growing mini-box scheme (Crop Share), for the occasional Potting Shed Café, for local chefs and for the Manor kitchen. We do this while encouraging community engagement with the site and promoting biodiversity by providing as much wild habitat as possible – such as ponds, log piles, flowering weeds, seed heads and uncut margins for beneficial creatures to feed, hunt, sleep, bask, breed and hibernate in.

The Kitchen Garden is being developed and overseen by Lead Grower Tim Mitchell, a City & Guilds Level 2 qualified Organic food grower with 9 years of experience. He is also qualified to teach in the adult learning sector and has previously taught both Level 1 and Level 2 food growing at Organiclea, a 12-acre community and production Organic certified market garden designed and operated along permaculture, consensus and cooperative principles. Tim is assisted by a second part-time grower.

The summer 2024 traineeship is a chance to develop your food-growing, people and organisational skills while learning all about the wildlife that support our crops, bring balance to a healthy soil and create a thriving local ecosystem.

The traineeship will suit someone looking to develop their skills as a market gardener in a community setting, working with and helping volunteers to engage with varied food production tasks and other members of the community to engage with the site more generally. Under the guidance of Tim, the trainee will learn the skills required to manage the food production at Asthall Manor, to integrate that with the needs of volunteers and take on responsibilities for propagating, maintaining and harvesting crops over the growing season.

Details of the role

  • This is a voluntary unpaid role (but see below).
  • Minimum age for applications: 18 years old.
  • Time commitment: 30 hours per week with flex, to be arranged and agreed on a rolling basis.
  • Some weekend commitments as part of the flexible days, to support weekend workshops.
  • Dates: 16 weeks, May – September 2024 with some flex over start date.
  • Based in the Kitchen Garden.

Supported by

  • Free accommodation in the Manor house (vegetarian household).
  • £75 per week stipend.
  • £100 of store cupboard dry goods / essentials bought at beginning of season.
  • A weekly Crop Share from the Kitchen Garden.
  • Weekly horticultural learning check-ins with the Lead Grower.
  • Free place on some kitchen garden workshops.
  • Lunch on volunteers days with Lead and / or Assistant Grower and volunteers.

To apply: Please send a CV or a description of your employment (and volunteering) history and a covering letter detailing outlining your reasons for applying and what qualities you will bring to the team, to [email protected]. For any questions or more information about this role please contact Tim at the email address above or on 07751340902.

Deadline for applications: 8am Monday 26th February.

Interview dates: Week commencing 4th March.


Main objectives

To learn about and assist with all aspects of propagation in the glasshouses, polytunnels and outdoor beds.

To learn about and assist with all aspects of maintaining the vegetable growing and surrounding areas within the kitchen garden.

To assist with harvesting and preparing produce for the Crop Share and other outlets.

To provide support for volunteers and other visitors to the site.

Main Activities


  • Preparing propagation media.
  • Raising plants from seed.
  • Planting and maintaining covered crops, field vegetables, salad leaves, green manures and companion plants.
  • Organic weed, pest and disease management.
  • Managing perennial vegetables, soft fruit bushes and tree crops.


  • Cutting/picking produce to the agreed methods and quantities, ensuring quality control.
  • Weighing, packaging, sealing, labelling and organising dispatch.

Working with volunteers

  • Work to ensure all volunteers on site are safe, welcomed, valued and supported.
  • Work to ensure all other visitors on site are safe, welcomed, valued and supported.
  • Supporting with an aim to lead tasks with volunteers.

Person Specification


  • Interest in sustainable food production and the desire to put that interest into practice.
  • Enthusiasm and willingness to learn as part of a practical, hard-working team.
  • Some experience of growing food.
  • Ability to supervise and explain tasks to volunteers.
  • Happy to work outdoors in all weather.
  • Ability to carry out shared tasks and work within a team.
  • Ability to work on own initiative, prioritise tasks and work to deadlines.
  • Commitment to and understanding of the Aims of Asthall Wild CIC:
  • Compassion for the diverse needs of people, other animals and plants.


  • Level 1 or Level 2 Organic food growing qualification.
  • Experience of working with volunteers in Organic food prodcution.
  • Good weed identification skills.

We welcome applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds.