Become a Summer Servant
Here at Bethlehem Farm, we love to have extra help in the summer. If you are at least 18 years old and interested in giving us a hand for a minimum of two weeks, consider being a Summer Servant. As a Summer Servant, you will live with the Caretaker community to participate in community life, help with daily chores, and contribute to group week activities.
The Summer Servant mission statement as written by the Summer Servant community:
“We, the Summer Servants, live to serve the Caretaker community by being a liaison between the Caretakers and volunteers, exemplifying the four cornerstones, and acting as a catalyst of energy within the community.”
Summer Servant Application Process
- Read the documents on the BF Community page to familiarize yourself with community life at Bethlehem Farm.
- If you have questions or to talk about joining us as a summer servant, contact the Hiring Coordinator at Bethlehem Farm (304)445-7143 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Either complete the relevant online application:
- We will schedule a phone conversation with a Caretaker during which we will ask you questions to try to get to know you better. It is also an opportunity for you to ask us any questions.
- The Caretakers make a decision, and you make a decision, about whether this is a good fit for you and Bethlehem Farm for this summer.
- Applications received by January 31st are given highest priority for acceptance, date preference, and duration. Any applications received after January 31st will be filled into remaining gaps in the schedule if there is still room.
Summer Servant Reflections
In my time at the Farm as a “Summer Servant,” I learned construction and carpentry techniques, sustainable farming methods, and experienced immense growth in my spiritual and personal life. I learned how to communicate more effectively with members of a community, and how to listen to the concerns of a brother or sister. I met amazing people with unbelievably raw yet inspiring stories of their lives and struggles while conversing with individuals from many different walks of life. I learned new ways to pray, and love, and give to your neighbor all while growing stronger in my convictions of my Catholic faith. I deepened my relationship with the beauty and value of Catholic Social Teaching while serving with neighbors and high-school volunteers. Along with my spiritual and personal growth, I saw meaning in the work I was doing and the skills I was learning. I learned how to properly care for chickens, build Hugel garden beds, set fence posts and much more. Whether it was repairing chicken wire fencing or caring for the soil our food would eventually come from, Bethlehem Farm taught me invaluable skills and lessons I will be forever grateful for. ~Patrick McGinnis, Summer Servant 2018
I originally came to Bethlehem Farm as a volunteer in 2014 with my college and one week was good for me the first time around. My Newman Center Director joked with me saying she could see me as a Caretaker here and I laughed. That didn’t stop me from coming back again in 2015 when my Newman center offered the trip again. One more week at the farm didn’t satisfy the thirst I had to serve, though. I decided I wanted to be a Summer Servant, so somehow I managed to do an in-person interview and I was offered a two-week stay from May to June. I felt odd at first being someone who did not really know the others. That faded quickly because of the openness of everyone else and this made me feel like I was a member of the group. I loved every minute and was extremely sad when I had to leave.
After the summer, my Newman Center Director asked me to lead my peers down in May of 2016. Of course, I said yes to going back to a place where I feel at home. I returned to the Farm and was asked to do more things like leading chores or just generally helping out with extra tasks. The same thing happened the next time I came back down leading some peers again. I knew this would be the last time I would be coming as a volunteer because my time at college was over, but I felt God was telling me “ You aren’t done here.” Throughout that week some people asked me if I was a Caretaker and it got me thinking about making that jump. I came back for a week in May and hung out with Eric, mulling over my next steps in life. I went back home for the summer and was still feeling like I should’ve stayed for the whole summer. It was a now or never moment in my life, so I said now because God has a plan. It was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I am now a Caretaker and have grown in more ways than I ever thought I would. ~Justin Mullen, Summer Servant 2015, 2017, Caretaker Nov 2017 – Dec 2018
What has my time as a Summer Servant meant to me? Since spending a week at Bethlehem Farm as a high school student, I had been determined to return as a summer servant. I wanted a chance to be a part of a community of people who truly live out cornerstones which I hold dear myself. Being a summer servant provided me an opportunity to actively engage issues confronting society in the context of a supportive community, fostering in me a sustainable commitment to real action. Or, put more simply, the community of Bethlehem Farm showed me ongoing solutions to problems that my generation and generations to come are and will be facing. This was manifested in concrete ways. For example, under the tutelage of Eric, I learned how to farm sustainably, in a way that more closely mimics nature. The example of all of the caretakers demonstrated a dual focus on alleviation of suffering and addressing root causes, such as engaging visiting students in direct volunteering with home repair while providing them with background information on rural issues like mountaintop removal mining. However, even more emphatically, I learned to appreciate the power of a vibrant and diverse community. I know now that only through engagement of this vital human connection will we as a human family learn to address the realities which we face. And I am so privileged to, through my time as a summer servant, have come to be a part of just one such brilliant community. “Summer Servanting” has invaluably directed my discernment of my place at home in the web of life. ~Anna Robertson, Summer Servant 2010, 2011, 2012
Being blessed with the opportunity to be a Summer Servant meant a return to the full intentionality of living. From the first moment you step onto the farm, you become concretely aware of the web of life in which we all exist. The true physical beauty of the space transforms hearts and minds as do the caretakers and volunteers that you interact with every day. I quickly learned that a conversation that starts with, “How was your day?” expands beyond pleasantries to dialogue about the challenges and joys of the people of Appalachia–from the sustainable agriculture to the future of the mountains with the risk of mountaintop removal. The opportunity to work beside homeowners, caretakers, volunteers, community members, and other summer servants allows for the development of true community working together for a common goal. The opportunity to see how your food is cultivated from seed to compost and knowing that you had a part in each stage of that creation, unfortunately, is not available in most of our daily lives. But, Bethlehem Farm allows the opportunity to participate in the creation of the food- one of life’s simple staples and most beautiful processes. Through my time at Bethlehem Farm, I was blessed tenfold with the experiences I was given and one can hope to only have given back a fraction of that experience to others while at the Farm and beyond. ~Sarah Jones, Summer Servant 2010