Laughing Apple Farm on Salt Spring Island, BC is seeking an apprentice for the 2020 season!
Laughing Apple Farm Apprenticeship
Our farm is located in a scenic and quiet spot on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. We
have been farming here for 20 years and have developed efficient organic methods for
producing food year-around on a small scale. Our farm was originally homesteaded on the west shore of Ganges Harbour in the 1880s and consists of about 120 acres of forest surrounding 40 acres of farmed land. We grow tree fruit, berries, and veggies using organic and low-till methods. We grow crops in six greenhouses to extend the growing season as well as crops in eight large outside beds with 50’ rows. We also grow hay (about 20 acres) and propagate and sell nursery plants from a large ornamental garden. In the fall we process most of our abundant apple crop into apple juice. Our produce is sold at a local farmer’s market, our farm stand, and local stores and restaurants.
We are looking for two apprentices to help us in all aspects of our farm. You will learn about the whole cycle – from seed to plate – of growing edible plants organically with low tillage: seeding, transplanting, soil care and maintenance, methods of soil preparation, mulching, irrigation systems, harvesting, cleaning and preparation for sale, and marketing the produce. You will also be involved with caring for chickens, haying in early summer, apple harvesting, apple pressing (we press our apples as well as many other people’s apples on the island). You will be able to eat much of the food we produce and discover eating seasonally. We grow a large diversity of crops!
Our goal is to make the most delicious, beautiful, and nutritious produce that we can. We are continually working hard to improve our knowledge and methods so that we can grow better food and be better stewards of our land. So, as well as the more technical things you will learn, we hope you will learn how to pay attention to and be curious about the details of your tasks and how to push harder to do them better.
These positions provide a great opportunity for self-motivated people to learn about small-scale farming and marketing in a hands-on way. The job is challenging and there is a lot to learn if you’re keen. Over the season, as you learn how to do the many tasks on the farm, there will be opportunities to take on more responsibility and lead projects. We feel that this is one of the best ways to learn and gives the most satisfaction. We expect this apprenticeship to be a two-way street – you learn from our experience, and you bring enthusiasm and new ways of looking at things to us. We all have a good time and enjoy working hard! And after the season, you go away with a sense of accomplishment, a deeper understanding of small scale farming, and good memories.
We have a beautiful location – our property is on the western side of Ganges harbour and there are walking trails through the woods and to a beach, and a small lake where you can swim in the summer. On Salt Spring there is a dynamic farming community and many opportunities to interact with like-minded people in fun social settings. Our community attracts interesting people who are doing interesting things and there are opportunities to visit other farms and be inspired by the variety of things going on.
March 15 – Nov 30, the apprenticeships are for the full 8 1/2 months, with options to stay for more time, and learn to prune in the winter.
Compensation includes housing in a two-bedroom cottage and a stipend of $600/month. The cottage has one bathroom, a fully equipped kitchen, living room, fireplace, washer and dryer; electricity, water, telephone (local calls) and Wifi are included. We provide some basic dry staples, produce from the farm, and gardening space for growing vegetables for your own personal use. The cottage is in very good condition and we ask that you have no pets. We provide WCB coverage for you as well.
Attributes we are looking for
We are looking for healthy, strong (can lift 40 lbs), enthusiastic people with integrity and a great work ethic, who can work in any weather, think for themselves and work independently, but be willing to take instruction or correction with patience and be able to work with others….and can have a sense of humour through it all! We are looking for people who learn quickly, ask questions when the job isn’t clear, and are attentive to detail. As a minimum, an applicant must have some experience with hard physical labour, and have physical and mental endurance, and must be able to work with our customers in a friendly and professional way.
We prefer people who have some experience with plants – gardening, woofing or volunteering and some customer service experience.
Our property is a non-smoking environment and we ask that you do not smoke on our property.
What will your days be like here
We expect that you will work more than 40 hours most weeks, either on the farm or at the farmer’s market. Some busy mid-season weeks it could be more hours. Throughout the season we have a farm stand to stock and a farmer’s market on Saturday. Everyday there are chickens to feed, coops to clean, and eggs to collect. The farm stand needs to be opened and closed every day. You will be expected to share all these responsibilities with us and we hope that you will be able to take sole responsibility for some of those tasks as the season progresses. Sunday usually is a day off for everyone. Typically most days, one of us will be working with you, although some days you will be on your own working on a project we started together.
In the early spring there is seeding in the heated greenhouse spaces, transplanting veggie
starts, planting out the small early plants into cool greenhouses and outside beds, bed
preparation (we use broad forks to turn the rows) and weeding. Since we make succession
plantings, this continues throughout the season until we plant our last seeds in June for the winter veggies. By April we are harvesting many types of greens, asparagus and rhubarb. In May we are harvesting peas and broad beans and planting out the broccoli crop.
As spring turns into summer, we focus on irrigation systems, nets for the berries and cherries, planting the greenhouse crops (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, melons and basil) and the outside crops (beans, squash, corn).
In the height of the summer, we focus on harvesting the larger crops (berries, garlic, tree fruit) and maintaining the beds (weeding, mulch). We harvest the garlic in the first few weeks of July (preparing the garlic for drying is a multi-person job over several days). Sometime in late June or early July we spend a week haying in addition to everything else. Throughout June, July and August we are harvesting and weeding the veggies crops we grow as well as raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.
At the end of August, the first apples begin to ripen so we begin harvesting apples. This continues through October and into November. Usually our first apple pressing can be in early
September and we have 4-6 pressings through the pressing season into mid November,
depending on the amount of the crop. They can be week-long events and the hours are long on those days.
We plant garlic in October and do bed cleanup and mulching in preparation for the winter
months and start seeding in the heated spaces for our winter greens crops.
Who we are
Brian is a retired University research physicist who is still active in the field of ice particle
research (he has a lab on the property and still builds instruments and does experiments). He fixes everything on the farm and there is opportunity for the apprentices to help with these projects and learn everything from carpentry to welding. We usually have several repair projects on the go! Brian is involved in all the big projects on the farm such as haying, planting garlic, apple pressing, new bed preparation, moving chicken enclosures. Brian grew up on a raw milk dairy farm near Seattle.
Mary was a researcher in the field of climate science before she gave it all up and started
farming full time. She also is an abstract painter and shows her work on the island. Mary is the person you will interact with on a daily basis. Mary manages the farm stand, goes to the
Saturday market, is in charge of the planting, transplanting, and harvesting, and is the general all around go-to person for the apprentices. Mary has been growing food on Salt Spring Island on a full time basis since 2005.
How to Apply:
Please submit a brief bio/resume to Mary Laucks at email@example.com and a summary of why you would like this position – answering at least the following questions:
o Why are you interested in farming?
o What are your skills?
o What are your motivations and expectations for this job?
Please provide at least two references, preferably from employers. If we think you are a good fit, we will arrange to speak in person on Skype. Also, if possible, we can arrange a visit.
When applying, please indicate that you saw this posting at Youngagrarians.org.