ALBERTA APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM
Do you want to be a Young Agrarians Mentor Farm? Read more here: Become a Mentor
Are you an aspiring farmer looking to gain skills and knowledge that match the ecological values you hold? Are you feeling the farming bug, but not quite ready to take the plunge and launch your own business? Young Agrarians, Organic Alberta and our network of exceptional mentor farmers are offering advanced, hands-on apprenticeships in regenerative agriculture. Participants with a serious interest, curiosity and commitment to full-time farming are invited to apply.
Our apprenticeships are a full immersion program that puts you into the heart of running a farm business, day in and day out. 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, grain, and vegetable production.
As part of the program, you will also visit other farms that are hosting Young Agrarian apprentices. This gives you the opportunity to learn from other ecological farmers, be exposed to different perspectives and practices, and make connections with other apprentices in the program.
Duration: Most apprenticeships last 8-12 months, however some farms offer 4-6 month programs. Start dates and end dates will be determined by the host farm and apprentice.
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. If the apprenticeship extends to the off-season, apprentices will learn about business planning and marketing, and/or focus on special projects, such as building and repairs.
Compensation: The greatest benefit to apprentices is the opportunity to become fully immersed in the daily labor and operation of their host operation. Room, board, and stipend packages vary from farm to farm. Housing is safe, secure and internet is available on each farm.
Food: While apprentices can expect to have some food provided by their host operations, they must clarify details and expectations related to food with their mentors as soon as possible upon accepting the apprenticeship position. Some mentors will provide a variety of food as ranch or farm products, while others will provide shared meals or possibly additional food stipends. Apprentices may be expected to participate in food preparation and clean-up for shared meals.
Days Off: Apprentices are encouraged to clarify details pertaining to days off and paid leave with their mentors as soon as possible upon beginning their apprenticeship.
Insurance: Each farm is required to have Workers Compensation coverage and insurance.
Orientation: Apprentices attend an orientation late March or early April. Attendance at this event is mandatory. 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 & Meetings: Mentors schedule 3 larger evaluations with the apprentices throughout the season to review skills checklists, discuss learning goals, observations, and general concerns or questions that arise. Monthly check-ins between mentors and apprentices are conducted to assess well-being and exchange more formalized feedback (though feedback is ongoing and often exchanged informally). Weekly meetings to review the schedule for the week are to be expected.
Education and Organic Alberta Conference: All participants will attend supplemental trainings and workshops offered in combination with the farm tours and potlucks. These workshops are designed to expose apprentices to topics ranging from soil health and land management to financial management and business planning. Apprentices will have the opportunity to attend the Organic Alberta Conference in 2021, free of charge, as part of their apprenticeship curriculum and graduation.
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 other apprentices’ farms.
One-on-one Support: Young Agrarians staff will facilitate an in-person check-in with each apprentice and help you develop your learning strategy. Phone calls and emails will be the primary form of communication throughout the season, but the Apprenticeship Coordinator will always be available if apprentices want additional check-ins.
Program Work & Evaluation: Apprentices are required to complete a formal exit interview with the mentor farm and program coordinator, a program evaluation with the program coordinator, and complete a final report in the form of a shareable post for the Young Agrarians blog.
The following farms are now accepting applicants:
- Steel Pony Farm – Red Deer, Alberta [Position Filled]
- The Homestead – Goodfare, Alberta – ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS
- Lazy T and Lady’s Hat Farms – Castor, Alberta [Position Filled]
- Sunrise Gardens – Onoway, Alberta [Position Filled]
- Coen Farm – Ferintosh, Alberta [Position Filled]
- Sun Dog Organic Farm – Gibbons, Alberta – ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS
- Blue Mountain Biodynamic Farm – Carstairs, Alberta [Position Filled]
- Goodnote Community Farm – Edmonton, Alberta [Position Filled]
- Nature’s Way Farm – Grimshaw, AB [Position Filled]
- Akesi Farm – Sundre, AB [Position Filled]
Application Process: (Only complete applications will be reviewed by the host farms)
STEP 1: Online Application –
Complete the online application (https://forms.gle/RWorQkopqyd9T9Zo8)
STEP 2: Email your resume and a personal essay (max 1500 word) describing: “What is your vision for ecological/regenerative agriculture? How do you see yourself fitting into your vision?” The essay can take the form of a written document, video, audio recording, or any other format at you choose — we encourage you to get creative! Submit your essay to email@example.com
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 before the start of their apprenticeship to secure their position in the program.
Host farms will conduct video or phone interviews with select applicants. Confirmation of successful applicants will be in February.
Apprentice start dates vary by farm however are generally April or May 2020.
For more information contact:
Kolby Peterson, YA Alberta Apprenticeship Coordinator
Call: 1-587-521-2400 (Organic Alberta Office)
The Young Agrarians Alberta Apprenticeship is a program of Organic Alberta. The program curriculum and materials have been adapted from the Quivira Coalition’s New Agrarian Apprenticeship program.
Our gratitude to our program funders for making these apprenticeships possible: