A Day In The Life of an Apprentice: Bronwyn Green – Gripfast Farms

Posted by Michelle Lam on November 25, 2021

gripfast farms apprenticeship

Animals, food, and community — these are three aspects that Bronwyn Green imagines as part of a successful closed-loop circle. Bronwyn Green was a Young Agrarians (YA) Apprentice who spent the season at Gripfast Farms near Binscarth, MB. The farm primarily focuses on regenerative agriculture methods to raise grass-fed beef and is owned by Doug Turnbull and Carol Lanz-Turnbull. We chatted with Bronwyn to learn more about her experience as an Apprentice.

Ya Apprenticeship Program

Bronywn has always had a passion for local food. She owns a food business called “G Spot Winnipeg” which uses produce sourced from nearby farms to make spreads and sauces for retail, vegetable bowls for a lunch program, and catered meals. Sustainability is at the core of the business and it shows; customers are encouraged to bring their own containers for the lunch program with the goal of minimizing waste. Her background in the restaurant industry since the age of 18 is carried with her as she continues to explore her career in food. 

In her free time, Bronwyn reads a lot. “I didn’t like the structure of University and….I feel like I honestly can learn more on my own,” she explains. “I tried to make the conscious effort to independently study since then.”  

This led her to read lots of books and look into organizations supporting regenerative agriculture — this is when she found Young Agrarians and the Apprenticeship Program. Not only was she excited about the prospect of learning from mentors while being paid, but she was also looking forward to the networking opportunities. She recalls thinking, “I’m also going to start meeting people in Young Agrarians and open up that door of that community of like-minded people who are kind of into the same thing as me.”

Gripfast Farms YA Apprenticeship

The Day-To-Day

Bronwyn’s Apprenticeship started in mid-April and finished in mid-September. Her days began at 8 AM and finished around 5 to 6 PM, working anywhere from five to six days a week. 

“I think they really cared about finding somebody who was keen on regenerative farming and wanting to farm…they talked about how much they just wanted to pass down information and grow new farmers. I really felt like they weren’t just like looking for extra hands to work. They really wanted to mentor.” — Bronwyn Green, YA Apprentice, speaking about her relationship with mentors, Doug and Carol. 

Gripfast Farms YA Apprenticeship

Her morning tasks ranged in activities including:

  • Feeding the dogs and cat
  • Checking in and feeding the pigs
  • Bringing kitchen scraps to the goats
  • Watering, feeding and moving the chickens (a new enterprise she stared as part of her apprenticeship)
  • Watering plants in the garden
  • Moving the main herd of cows every day or two, moving the water system, etc.
  • Driving to another farm to move the heifer cattle from the new to old paddocks

Lunch was about 30-45 minutes each day and was followed by an afternoon of working on various projects. Projects included:

  • Maintaining the tractor and quad
  • Helping with hay baling
  • Maintaining and preparing the seeder
  • Milking and feeding dairy goats

Gripfast Farms YA Apprenticeship

Meal and Accommodations

When asked to describe her relationship with the farmers, she says that they treated her like family. “The first night I was there we stayed up till midnight just chatting,” says Bronwyn. She spent a lot of time with the family, canoeing and hiking with Carol and Doug’s kids, baking and canning with Carol, and cooking meals for the family on occasion. 

Her accommodation was a bedroom suite above the garage of the main house. She had access to her own living room, bathroom, and bedroom, giving her a sense of closeness to the family while still maintaining a bit of her own privacy. She continued to independently study throughout the Apprenticeship, reading many books to dive deeper into the world of regenerative agriculture. 

Carol cooked most of the meals on the farm which was shared over daily group dinners with the family. Bronwyn was responsible for taking care of her own breakfast and lunch, but most of the time she ate the leftovers cooked by Carol the evening before. “Doug and I ate almost every meal together. If Carol was home, she would eat breakfast and lunch with us too,” says Bronwyn, demonstrating her close-knit relationship with the mentors. 

Gripfast Farms YA Apprenticeship

Major Learnings and Next Steps

Over the season, Bronwyn gained exposure to a variety of tasks around the farm. Above all, she reflects on learning the importance of being realistic about what can be done. In a conversation with Doug, she asked about the number of cows in the herd they started with. “2”, he replied. She learnt about their slow but steady process of growing the farm over 25 years — something that has been ingrained in her moving forward. 

Gripfast Farms YA Apprenticeship

She also learnt the importance of working with the neighbours, helping them out when needed and vice versa.

“It makes such a huge difference when you start working with your community,” Bronwyn explains. 

Aside from her experience with the cattle, she also had the opportunity to try out her own chicken enterprise on the farm. She raised 100 chickens in a hoop house on pasture, moving them every day. It was her first taste of the business side of farming.

She’s back in Winnipeg now, supervising at a local cafe in town. Her hope is to continue on with her business, G Spot Winnipeg, focusing on the catering side of the business. As part of the YA network, she’s excited to continue building connections in the community. In November, she attended the Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association’s Regenerative Ag conference, a perk that came along with being an apprentice. There’s not a doubt that we’ll see more of Bronwyn in the future years to come.

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Photos provided by Bronwyn Green.