Are you interested in mentoring an aspiring farmer through an apprenticeship?

We are looking for farmers who are dedicated stewards of the land; are skilled and enthusiastic teachers who have a passion for mentoring young and aspiring farmers; and have a farm philosophy that recognizes the connectedness of the land and people.

The host farm mentors are at the heart of the Young Agrarians Apprentice Program. Among everything else, they are growing farmers.

If you want to pass along your love of the land to the next generation of farmers, consider becoming a Mentor with YA.

We are looking for Host Farm Mentors in BC, AB, SK and MB.

About the program

Young Agrarians and our network of exceptional host farm mentors offer advanced, hands-on apprenticeships in regenerative agriculture. These farmers are foundational in the supporting the learning journey of new and aspiring farmers and offer an immersive experience for YA apprentices.

Regenerative agriculture has the ability to heal and improve our landscapes, communities, and economies. With the national average age of Canadian ranchers and farmers approaching sixty, and with less than two percent of the Canadian population currently dedicated to growing food within ANY type of production model, it is critical that the next generation of food producers and land stewards have sufficient training opportunities.

Apprentices have gone on to work on other farms, begin their own farming enterprise, and partner with elder agrarians wanting to transition their farms.

Mentor Qualifications

Young Agrarians Apprenticeship Program mentors are full-time ranchers and farmers on regenerative agricultural operations located in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Qualifications

  • Have been farming for at least five years in operation and have previous experience directly supervising ranch/farm staff or trainees
  • Prioritize healthy soil, food, communities, and ecosystems;
  • Maintain a culture, rhythm, and agricultural practice that provides a high quality of life for both people and animals
  • Want to teach and to be an apprentice’s full-time employer, teacher, and life coach;
  • Have time and capacity to instruct an apprentice and give him or her meaningful feedback
  • Have adequate, safe apprentice housing
  • Have Workers Compensation Insurance

Mentor Obligations

Obligations to Apprentices

  • Provide full-time employment (unless the agreement with the apprentice is otherwise) and daily mentoring in a safe working environment compliant with provincial and federal requirements
  • Provide an employment contract including an employment period, work description and expectations, compensation, room and board policy, and termination policy
  • Provide adequate, safe housing
  • Balance work-intensive days or weeks due to seasonal fluctuation with adequate rest and time off
  • Conduct weekly planning meetings with apprentice to outline workload expectations and to answer questions
  • Emphasize spending regular time with apprentice in a work-learn environment
  • Conduct three formal evaluations using a skills checklist with the apprentice to discuss learning goals, observations, and general concerns or questions that arise.
  • At a minimum, conduct monthly check-ins between mentors and apprentices to assess well-being and exchange more formalized feedback (though feedback is ongoing and often exchanged informally). 
  • Conduct entry and exit interviews

Obligations to Young Agrarians

  • Complete our online Host Farm Mentor Application Form (link below)
  • Work with the YA Coordinator to create your host farm profile
  • Host an annual site visit with a YA staff member
  • Provide a copy of your evaluation, skills checklist, and entry and exit interviews
  • Sign a memorandum of understanding contract with YA
  • Attend a mandatory mentor orientation prior to the beginning of the season and occasional conference calls throughout the season
  • Complete the host farm mentor training E-Learning course
  • Host the other YA apprentices and/or the broader community for a farm tour & potluck (YA and your apprentice will do this bulk of this planning but will require your support and input)
  • Host the YA Apprenticeship Coordinator for one in-person check-in during the season
  • Attend apprenticeship graduation and mentor recognition at Organic Alberta conference (not mandatory, but we sure would like to see you there).

Program Supports and Benefits

The Young Agrarians Apprenticeship Program provides host farm mentors with initial, on-site guidance and basic apprenticeship structure in order to ensure a consistent model across the program. At the same time, mentors are given plenty of room within which to customize apprenticeships.

What we provide:

  • Individual host farm profile webpages featuring each mentor farm operation and apprenticeship
  • Outreach and promotion, including advertising online, in print, and in communities local to each apprenticeship
  • Logistical and administrative assistance with application and selection process, including provision of a standard application, application processing, and collaborative review
  • Guidance for structuring an interview process
  • Annual site visits
  • One-on-one support as needed
  • Annual mentor training
  • A network of other mentors for peer-to-peer support
  • Participation in educational workshops throughout the season
  • Copy of Agrarian Apprenticeship Handbook – developed by the New Agrarian Program, whom we have modelled our program after and who continues to inspire this program.

Program Details

Read about the program details here on the main program page. 

Host Farm Mentor Application Process

Only complete applications will be reviewed.

STEP 1: Online Host Farm Mentor Application – 
Complete the online mentor application – Host Farm Mentor Application Form 

STEP 2: Telephone Interviews –
Successful applicants will be contacted for an interview with the program coordinators.

STEP 3: Initial Farm Visit – 
Young Agrarian Program Coordinator(s) will arrange a farm visit with you to ensure all the necessary requirements are met for hosting an apprentice

STEP 4: Creating your Farm Profile – 
Successful mentor applicants will be working with the Apprenticeship Coordinator to create a farm profile for the website and application process. There will be templates and guidance provided.

Important Dates:

Host Farm applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
Apprenticeship applications open in winter 2024/2025.

Host farms will conduct video or phone interviews with prospective apprentices following application deadline in February. Confirmation of successful applicants will be in early March.

Host farm mentor orientation dates are tentatively set for mid-to-late March.

Apprentice start dates vary by farm; however, generally begin in April or May. 


Have questions about being a host farm mentor? Contact:

Marsha Shack, YA British Columbia & Alberta Apprenticeship Coordinator
Email: marsha@youngagrarians.org

Alieka Beckett, YA SK Apprenticeship Coordinator
Email: saskatchewan@youngagrarians.org

Jenn Sparling, YA  MB Apprenticeship Coordinator 
Email: jennifer@youngagrarians.org


The program curriculum and materials have been  inspired and adapted from the Quivira Coalition’s New Agrarian Apprenticeship program. 


Photo credits: Mich Lam