YA Alberta Apprenticeship Program

Posted by Sara Dent on December 06, 2016 7 Comments


Young Agrarians and Organic Alberta are working in partnership to offer advanced, hands-on apprenticeship program in regenerative agriculture with our network of exceptional mentor farms. The goal of this program is to build the next generation of farmers who are committed to ecological food production and land stewardship, to train farmers and ranchers to be mentors, and to build a regional learning community.

Our carefully selected family of farm mentors have diverse expertise and skill sets –  their farm philosophy is guided by a holistic framework that recognizes the connectedness of the land and people. Although farm activities will be different on each farm, the core activities will involve care of soil, pasture and livestock, farm direct marketing, and using sustainable practices for cereal and grain production.

The Apprenticeship is a full immersion program that puts you into the heart of running a farm business, day in and day out. Participants with a serious interest, curiosity and commitment to full-time farming are invited to apply.

Program Details:

Participant fee: $175    

Duration: Most apprenticeships last 8-12 months, however some farms offer 4-6 month programs.

Hours:  Work hours will vary with the season; however, apprentices are prepared to work 6-days a week.  

Living on a farm, you will be presented with constant change. While summer months offer abundance and long hours; winter brings shorter days, cold weather, and a slower pace. In the off season, apprentices learn about business planning and marketing, and/or focus on special projects, such as building and repairs.

Compensation: Room, board, and stipend packages vary from farm to farm. Housing is safe, secure and internet is available on each farm. Enjoy access to farm fresh food and some shared meals. Monthly stipends range from $500-$750.

Learning Fund: Apprentices receive $750 honorarium to support their learning needs (i.e. course fees and travel). A maximum of $250 may be used for the acquisition of job related tools or clothing. Apprentices receive a complimentary guest ticket to Organic Alberta’s 2018 conference.

Insurance: Each farm is required to have Workers Compensation coverage and insurance.

Orientation: Apprentices attend a 2-day orientation within their first few weeks of the program. The orientation will prepare you for your learning journey: you will learn about ecological agriculture and meet visionary farmers, connect with your fellow apprentices, meet the project coordinators and have fun together.  

On-Farm Evaluation: Mentors schedule bi-weekly check-ins with their apprentices throughout the season. During each check-in, apprentices and mentors review skills checklist, and discuss learning goals, observations and general concerns or questions that arise.

Farm Log: Apprentices receive a workbook to log their day, for recording weather, hours worked, activities, observations, learning goals and questions that arise. The farm log is used to guide your check-in with farm mentor and program coordinators.

Peer-to-Peer Networking:  Apprentices will have the opportunity to network with fellow apprentices, local farmers, agricultural professionals and meet other young agrarians. Each apprentice is responsible for organizing a farm tour with potluck, and will visit neighbouring farms.  

One-on-one Support: Young Agrarians staff will facilitate monthly check-ins and help you develop your learning strategy which will include farm visits and meeting with a business coach. Phone calls and emails will be the primary form of communication.

Program Evaluation: Apprentices are required to complete a formal exit interview with the program coordinators and complete a final report.

Host Farms: The following farms are now accepting applicants for the YA Apprenticeship Program:

Application Process:

STEP 1: Online Application –
Complete the online application (https://goo.gl/forms/WjvY9ehVWZHdd78B2)

STEP 2: Next you will be contacted by a program coordinator and asked to provide the following:

  • Resume with 3 references
  • Personal Essay (max 1500 word) describing: “My vision for ecological agriculture”
  • $75 Application Fee

STEP 3: Telephone Interviews –
Successful applicants will be contacted for an interview with the host farm and program coordinators.

STEP 4: Initial Farm Visit –
Selected applicants are encouraged to visit the host farm for 3-5 days*. After this visit both parties will decide if they will proceed with the program.
*the program does not provide funding for this initial visit

STEP 5: Participant Fee Payment –
Participants who are accepted into the program are required to pay $175 within the first 4 weeks of the program.

Important Dates:

Applications will be received as long as the posting is up and telephone interviews will be conducted with selected applicants.

Apprentice Start Date: April or May 2018


Dana Penrice, Program Coordinator
Email: alberta@youngagrarians.org
Call: 1-587-521-2400 (Organic Alberta Office)

The YA Alberta Apprenticeship is a program of Organic Alberta. The program curriculum and materials have been adapted from the Quivira Coalition’s Agrarian Apprenticeship program. Funding for this program is provided by Peavey Mart and the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency.     

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