FARM JOB: KITWANGA, BC – Tea Creek, Full-Time Farmer

Posted by Michalina Hunter on January 04, 2022

Tea Creek is looking to bring on a full time farmer to join our team for the 2022 growing season. Tea Creek is an Indigenous-led, land-based, experiential, culturally-safe food sovereignty employment and training initiative located near Kitwanga in rural Northwestern BC.

We are a farm and training program uniquely situated at the intersection of 3 major climatic areas: Coastal, Northern and Interior. We farm mixed vegetables both in our field blocks (currently about 2 acres) and in a 50 foot greenhouse. We generate an abundance of fresh, nutritious for our local communities with almost all of it being gifted or traded. Our favorite vegetable is probably the potato which we grow in the highest volume at Tea Creek, but we enjoy growing many others too.

Our approach:

Our projects and passions center around people, community and the land. We farm on Gitxsan territory and seek to model core Indigenous values of respect and compassion for people, animals and the land.

The way we see people is the way we see the land and the way we see the land is the way we farm: with care, respect and humility. We pause when a mother bear strolls her cubs above the potato patch and we slow down when a participant needs to say something necessary about their life or work. We speed up when a community member or family is in need of fresh food after a supply chain disruption and we’ll hit overdrive if an early frost threatens to end our season short or if the reservoir runs out of water.

Who you are:

The right person will model a community first approach to farming, be people centric and resonate with land based practices. You will show flexibility as it comes to innovation and farming technique. Tea Creek does not subscribe to one particular style of farming other than to say we are innovative and follow practices that help us grow as much food as possible in a challenging climate. We’d like to work with someone who has the ability to learn and teach alongside us while we grow this business in step with the needs of the community.

As part of our reconciliation measures Tea Creek helps Indigenous communities choose their own approach to food sovereignty. This may differ from traditional organic practices and your flexibility around methodology is key in supporting local Indigenous communities.

You are also someone who can handle disappointment, radio interruptions and tolerate the very rowdy ravens that nest in the barn during brooding season. Speaking of seasons, you are someone who can get through the blackfly/mosquito months (June and part of July) and can afford to lose at least a pint or two of blood.

You are prepared for drought years, wet years, fires and floods. You are adventurous, respect the wildlife and listen well to the advice of northern folk to keep your distance from the cow moose and her babies. 

Most especially, you are someone who is empathetic to, but not cowed by the impacts and realities of colonization on Indigenous populations. You show up in all of it with heart and a listening ear. You can pivot your assumptions and perspectives as required through your interactions and conversations with staff, participants, elders and community members. You actively work at reconciliation through your candour, actions and attitudes.

Where you will be farming:

The most beautiful place on earth. You will probably be reprimanded several times through the year for the amount of time you spend gazing in wonder at the Seven Sisters range and taking photos of the surrounding landscapes.

Tea Creek is situated just north of the Skeena River and is buttressed by the Kitwanga Mountains to the west and Seven Sisters Range to the south. The land we farm on is part of Simidiks traditional territory. The Gitwangak reserve lies 5 minutes south of the farm and the Gitanyow reserve is about 20 minutes up Highway 37 to the north.

The Tea Creek site also uniquely encompasses the historical crossroads of 4 traditional grease trails and was a meeting place for travellers, traders and hunters. One of the features of this traditional meeting place is a Gitxsan food forest featuring wild apple, cherry, saskatoons, soapberries, low-bush blueberries, and hazelnuts.

This region, while emanating the purity and richness of thousands of years of Indigenous stewardship, also suffers from the very recent and ongoing effects of colonization. The challenges of intergenerational trauma persist in our local communities. Part of our work at Tea Creek is to understand and address this through the radical and life giving acts of food sovereignty, community building and engagement.

Joining on with Tea Creek’s means that you will be asked to engage participants, staff and the community with this awareness in mind.

The framework:

We are open to discussing different options for your time at Tea Creek. We can offer landsharing opportunities to the right person and are open to other business ideas that provide mutual benefit. Opportunities could include: your own market garden (nearest farmers markets are Terrace and Hazelton), cut flower business, animal husbandry (fowl or beef) and more.

We are primarily seeking someone who has the skillset to take on our vegetable production from nursery to harvest and everything in between. The right candidate will be able to engage with and work alongside others and also have a propensity to act and think independently.

Primary responsibilities include:

  • Greenhouse/nursery: seeding and caretaking vegetable starts for production and community giveaway
  • Soil preparation and transplanting/seeding, regular rotations of crops and succession planting
  • Maintenance and monitoring of gardens: weeding (we use a lot of mulches and weed suppression techniques), watering and irrigation systems set-up, pest management, plant health, brush mowing
  • Assisting in regular grounds maintenance (mowing, brush clearing, site cleanliness)
  • Harvest, storage and distribution (vegetables are primarily distributed to the community and shared among participants)
  • Data recording, tracking farm inventory (soil, seeds, irrigation supplies etc), engaging in business systems and online project management tools
  • Supervision and coordination of volunteers and participants
  • Teaching and instruction: as we are a training program there will be opportunities to teach, guide and share knowledge with our participants and staff

Requirements:

  • Previous farming experience: Minimum 2 years experience working with organic or sustainable methods in mixed vegetable farming
  • Experience solving farm problems, ability to be self-directed and self-driven, can work independently and with teams
  • Knowledge and experience in crop planning, greenhouse nursery management, vegetable harvest/preparation/storage, record keeping skills
  • Excellent physical fitness and ability to work hard all day outside in the elements (we farm on hills)
  • Be a people person with the ability to listen and engage and learn from others. Candidates will also be able to teach and instruct when necessary as well as supervise work projects and tasks
  • Innovative, can roll with climatic challenges such as drought, flooding and seasonal frosts
  • Candidate is Indigenous or an Indigenous ally. Candidates must be willing to work with and in Indigenous communities. Must also be willing to learn about the local Indigenous history and culture and engage respectfully with reconciliatory initiatives
  • Willingness to learn and approach tasks with openness and curiosity
  • A driver’s license and clean abstract

Additional Assets:

  • Agricultural education by way of training, internships or post secondary
  • Experience operating large tractors and equipment safely
  • Experience in teaching, instruction and supervision
  • First Aid Training Level 1
  • Knowledge of safe food handling practices
  • Technical literacy: can use or learn systems that apply to food storage, recording and communication (Tea Creek uses online project management tools, crop planning applications and some automation)
  • Passionate about efficiency, planning and using innovative technology to produce high volumes of food without excess labour and cost
  • Community engagement work experience

Compensation Structure and Term:

  • Primary job term: April 1, 2022-October 31, 2022

Tea Creek is offering a negotiable wage and opportunity to the right candidate. Various agreements could be negotiated and Tea Creek can offer the following options:

  • Contractual position
  • Land sharing opportunity or regenerative farming opportunity (for example: integrating a meat bird operation alongside vegetable production).
  • Wage/hour
  • Salary rate

More Information:

  • This position could be offered to a partnered couple provided both candidates have enough shared experience in the requirements listed above
  • This position may also offer accommodation, the details of which can be discussed upon acceptance of the job offer
  • Tea Creek is located in Northwestern BC in a remote location. Candidates must be prepared to live rurally. Interactions with bears, moose and other wildlife are not uncommon on the farm. The closest major hubs are Terrace (about a 1 hours drive from Kitwanga) and Smithers (about 1 ½ hours from Kitwanga)
  • This position could be offered continually on a year to year basis to the right candidate

How to Apply:

Send us your cover letter and resume by email to info@teacreek.ca with ‘Tea Creek Farmer Position’ in the subject line. Thank you in advance to all who apply. Only qualified candidates will be contacted.

Our vision is resilient, healthy Indigenous communities built on land-based programs and abundant local food. We are Indigenous-led, majority Indigenous staffed, and we are currently partnered with three local First Nations to provide training. More about us on our website: www.teacreek.ca

When applying, please mention you saw this posting at youngagrarians.org

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