Meet Your Future Farmers – Alberta Apprenticeship Program

Posted by Kolby Peterson on April 29, 2020 4 Comments

We want to introduce the 2020 Apprenticeship Cohort to you, our YA community. They’re a pretty big deal. This crew is committing to a season of learning and working on some top-notch regenerative farms in Alberta. They are committing to long days, short nights, sore muscles, muddy boots, and sunburn. They are also committing to the cultivation of life in many forms, fresh food in abundance, skill-building, enriching experiences, and irreplaceable community bonds that are part-and-parcel of farming. When we can gather again, be sure to give them a warm handshake and hello.

Erika Dickson – Lazy T & Lady’s Hat Farm

Hi, my name is Erika. I was born and raised in Edmonton. I started my Agriculture journey in the fall of 2017 when I went to Lakeland College in Vermilion. There I took the Animal Science Technology program, and shortly into it I realized that raising livestock was definitely the path I wanted to take. I enjoyed learning about all of the types of livestock industries but found a special interest in the sheep industry. My main life goal is to someday have my own little farm. Until then, I want to learn as much as I possibly can!

That’s why I applied for the Young Agrarians apprenticeship. It is an amazing opportunity for someone like me who doesn’t have a lot of work experience and who needs to build important skills in an environment that is supportive and eager to teach. One of the best feelings in the world is to find a new interest to dive into, which is why I think it’s so exciting that lots of the farms in the Apprenticeship program have multiple enterprises. Some of these enterprises are things I know nothing about yet such as raising chickens and beekeeping! It will open so many new doors for me and give me ideas on possible careers. Along with the variety of enterprises is the ecological aspect of all of them. I absolutely believe that ecological agriculture is the way of the future and I am looking forward to learning so much more about it in a hands-on fashion.

Josephine Junas-Grant – The Homestead

Josephine Junas-Grant is an aspiring farmer from Edmonton, Alberta.  Her early years were spent on an apiary in northern Alberta. Even though she moved to the city at a young age, her family continued to keep bees, and grow a large garden. These formative experiences have been inspiration to pursue farming herself.

Josephine loves learning new skills and has an eclectic background. Last spring she completed a diploma in jazz flute performance at Macewan University. Prior to that she worked everywhere from a long-term sustainable forestry research project to a bicycle repair shop. Her free time is spent writing music, adventuring in the mountains, and creating art in many forms. While she is interested in a wide variety of things, one of the few constants in her life has been a love for growing food and sharing it with people. Josephine hopes to start an eclectic farm near Edmonton in the next couple of years and is looking forward to learning many new skills through this apprenticeship that will help make that dream a reality!

Lauren Kaminsky – Good Note Community Farm

 Hi! My name is Lauren. I am 22 and I was born and raised in Highlands, Edmonton. I enjoy spending my time reading, steaming, going on river valley walks and gazing at the moon. The work I currently do is in child care, which has been thoroughly gratifying for me. One of my future dreams is to work at the Waldorf school as an early childhood educator. I am passionate about the connections that weave us all together in community. Particularly, practices that serve to connect us through holistic health, personal growth, living more simply, helping others, and taking care of animals.

Throughout my years, gardening has hugely influenced my life. As far back as I can remember, both my grandmother and mother always grew a healthy large garden, year after year. These two women taught me the importance of growing my own food and about where food comes from. It wasn’t until a few years ago, while working as an elixirist and server at Noorish Restaurant, that my interest in food as medicine really grew and blossomed. This further sparked my agricultural interest with regards to whole natural foods, being part of a conscious community and learning about sustainable farming practices.

My hope for the program is to spread awareness of how growing your own food is both essential and the way of the future. In order to restore the previous systems’ harsh and toxic types of farming, there needs to be more excited awareness upon sustainable practices that benefit every living part of the farm. In doing so, with a clear intention of creating a diverse and symbiotic relationship to Mother Earth and all Her inhabitants, we will sustain the planet in a far more harmonious way and foster a greater love of conscious gardening globally. I hope to inspire others with my gained wisdom and experience and plan to share it for years to come!

Philip Rioux – Fungi Akuafo Inc.

Hello fellow apprentices and YA community! At some point in mid January, I took a weekend hiatus from technology. During that weekend I really sat with the internal conflict I was experiencing between my values and the job I had at the time. Serendipitously, once emerging from this hiatus and turning my phone on, I had an email in my inbox from the YA stating they had extended the deadline for the apprenticeships. One opportunity stood out to me (mainly because I find mushrooms fascinating) with Fungi Akuafo! So I applied and landed an apprenticeship with Meaghan, Kwesi, and Tara. I hope to develop and co-create ideas with business development, and to absorb all the skills and knowledge available to me in order to understand what it takes to run a homestead and small business. I also hope to develop community and meet like-minded individuals.

I believe as is evident by the current world situation that ecological agriculture has a much greater role to carve out in society. This is a time for society to look in the mirror and asses our priorities and way of life. I have done that for myself and along with many of my peers, I determined that the status quo is lagging behind the potential for humanity. I want to be a part of this movement and learn from the amazing people that are making strides to also achieve this goal. In order for me to be an asset I need skills, knowledge, and a support system. This YA apprenticeship helps fulfill all these requirements. In the end I look forward to this new experience and the personal development which will result as I continue to allow my vocation to carve itself out! I look forward to meeting as much of the YA community as possible.

Natalie LaForest – Nature’s Way Farm

Natalie is a first year apprentice at Nature’s Way Farm near Grimshaw, AB. She is passionate about local food production and food security, and is interested in learning about soil fertility and nutrient cycling in regards to regenerative agriculture.

Anna Bishop – Sunrise Gardens

Hello! My name is Anna Bishop and I joined this apprenticeship because I have a vision of a fully autonomous and locally interdependent existence. Food sovereignty is a huge part of that. I would like to learn the skills and knowledge required to run a local market garden to help people diminish their reliance on our current global colonial-capitalist system, as well as provide a way for people to connect to the earth and each other in a relation of gratitude, excitement, and abundance.

I have spent a lot of time in front of a computer in the last few years (just finished a MSc in Biology- Ecology from U Alberta!) and wanted to practice working physically in a sustainable way. I hope to integrate the analytical part of me developed through environmental sciences into my practice and knowledge of farming, as well as through carrying out a small research project. I am interested in composting, integrated pest management, companion planting, greenhouse construction, irrigation/water management, wildharvesting/herbalism, and how to successfully manage the business aspect of local-scale market gardens.

I am focusing on bringing the loving and intuitive part of me into my work, and am interested in learning how to manage the day to day workload of the farm in a holistic, steady, focused and calm way. I hope to maintain a practice of self-care for myself through yoga, music, meditation, and herbal remedies. My dream for ecological agriculture is that many more people begin to practice it in a joyful and holistic way, so that we can shift our communities towards a relation of respect, gratitude, and interdependence with the earth and each other on all levels.

Stoked for this season and to meet y’all!!

Jillian Barvir – Steel Pony Farm

My name is Jillian Barvir, and I am from Heritage Pointe, Alberta. Following my graduation from St. Francis Xavier University is 2018, I immediately packed my bags and travelled to Haida Gwaii, British Columbia to apprentice on a 3-acre organic mixed vegetable farm. I spent many summers growing up on my aunt and uncle’s farm near Picture Butte, Alberta, but my time on Haida Gwaii introduced me to the art of organic vegetable production. I caught the farming bug and have spent the last year and a half figuring out how to make it my career. This past year, I have also spent some time travelling through Italy and Australia where I had the opportunity to tour several farms. I came out of this time solid in the fact that farming is my clear passion.  I joined the Young Agrarians apprenticeship program to build the confidence I need to work towards establishing my own market garden. I am eager to learn from the wisdom and experience of others in the YA community. Most of all, I am looking forward to a lifetime of working closely with the land and to fostering community through a direct producer-consumer relationship. When not engaged in some facet of my farming pursuit, you can find me cooking, reading, hiking, or enjoying a cocktail on my deck.

Alexis Jones – Blue Mountain Biodynamic Farm 

I am a born and raised Albertan, having grown up in Edmonton and then Calgary. I studied biomechanics at the U of C, but it was during this time that I discovered and grew enamoured with outside activities. Since graduating, I have let my enthusiasm for climbing, running, biking, and hiking take me from adventure to adventure around the world. I played in the Rocky Mountains at home, then explored Iceland, England, Wales, Nepal, Myanmar and India for half a year before going to live out my dreams in New Zealand. For many years I had wanted to drop out of school and work as a sheep farmer in NZ, and after many detours I finally ended up working on a large dairy farm. I’m not sure if I expected to like it as much as I did. I loved being outside in the mud, working hard and hanging with the calves, as well as learning heaps of practical skills like how to compost or use a chainsaw.

Since returning to Alberta I have decided to pursue my emerging interest in food production and distribution systems and jump head first into this apprenticeship. I heard once that we need neither optimism nor pessimism because they imply that the future is outside your influence, but instead if we can keep then it means there is a path forward for us to take to make the change we want to see. On a personal level, I hope to understand the ins and outs of organic farming and see if it’s a path I want to continue along. I also want to be part of a solution that provides hope during this climate crisis, where we can rethink how we nourish our communities as well as the environment.

Welcome to the YA Community, Agrarian Apprentices!

Thank you to our funders for this program:

4 thoughts on “Meet Your Future Farmers – Alberta Apprenticeship Program

  1. Hello,

    Could one volunteer over weekends on farms ? I would love to do that and know a couple of friends who are interested as well. I live in South Surrey, please let me know how one can find ways to volunteer.

    Thanks in advance,
    Kartik

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