Are you an aspiring farmer looking to gain skills and knowledge that match the ecological and regenerative values you hold? Are you feeling the farming bug, but not quite ready to take the plunge and launch your own business?
Young Agrarians and our network of exceptional host farm mentors are offering hands-on farm apprenticeships in regenerative agriculture.
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 host farms have diverse expertise and skill sets to teach you. They are chosen because their farm philosophy is guided by ecological and holistic values that recognize the connectedness of the land and people. Although activities vary from farm to farm, apprentices can learn about:
- caring for the soil and health of the land
- grazing livestock to manage pastures and grasslands
- using regenerative practices for grain and vegetable growing
- farm direct marketing
- how a farm can build community
Applications for apprenticeship positions will open December 8, 2023 and close January 31, 2024.
If you have a serious interest, curiosity and commitment to getting your hands dirty we invite you to read more about the program and apply! Reach out to us with questions at any time.
Duration: Apprenticeships range from 4 – 12 months however, most start April/May and end Sept/Oct. Start dates and end dates will be determined by the host farm and apprentice.
Hours: Work hours will vary with the season. 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.
Compensation: While the greatest benefit to apprentices is to learn by being fully immersed in the day-to-day of their host farm, this is a paid apprenticeship. Compensation varies from farm to farm and each apprenticeship is supported by an employment contract that lays out the work hours, compensation, expectations, days off and any other benefits like housing, food, etc.
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.
Housing: For host farms providing housing, YA works to ensure it is safe and secure. Some farms have a room in the host farm’s residence while others have separate housing for apprentices. Amenities like internet, laundry, etc. are listed in the host farm profiles.
Food: Gathering to share food is at the heart of this program! On the farm, some mentors will provide ranch or farm products, while others will have shared meals. Apprentices may be expected to participate in food preparation and clean-up. Orientation and farm tours include some of the most amazing potlucks you will ever experience! Apprentices will be expected to bring a dish to these events.
Welcome & Orientation: Apprentices attend an online welcome in April and an in-person orientation in May. Attendance at these events is mandatory. The orientation will prepare you for your learning journey: you will learn about ecological and regenerative agriculture, connect with your fellow apprentices, meet the project coordinators, and have fun together.
On-Farm Check-Ins: We encourage host farms to have regular check-in throughout the season to review skills checklists, discuss learning goals, observations, and general concerns or questions that arise.
Farm Tours & Workshops: As part of the program, apprentices will also visit other farms to learn from other ecological and regenerative farmers, be exposed to different perspectives and practices, and make connections with other apprentices in the program. These events are organized by the YA coordinators but we encourage apprentices to help out! Additional online workshops will be organized and include topics like Indigenous Food Sovereignty and Farming, Holistic Management and Soil Health. Being a part of the Young Agrarians network will also open opportunities for more events and education!
Learning to Observe: Apprentices are encouraged to keep a journal or log or 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.
One-on-one Support: The YA Staff are here to support you! We will have check-ins with each apprentice and help you develop your learning strategy. Phone calls, group chats and emails will be the primary form of communication throughout the season, but your provincial Coordinator will always be available for support.
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.
Closing Retreat & Final Reflections: Apprentices will gather for a final weekend, usually in September, to reflect on their apprenticeship experience. They will be invited to share a Final Reflection Project that captures their time and can be shared with future new farmers.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Apprenticeships range from 4 - 12 months, however, most start April/May and end Sept/Oct. Apprenticeship lengths are discussed at the interview stage and negotiated in the employment contract to meet the needs of the host farm and apprentice.
The apprenticeship comprises training time with the host farm mentor and time when the apprentice is working independently on farm tasks. Training time is typically heavier at the beginning as the apprentice learns new skills. While it varies from farm to farm, the host farm usually spends 300 hours training throughout the apprenticeship.
Yes. Compensation varies from farm to farm but each apprenticeship is supported by an employment contract. This lays out the work hours, compensation, expectations, days off, and any other benefits like housing, food, etc. Many host farms access wage subsidies to help pay their apprentice.
Some farms pay their apprentices through a wage subsidy for employees 30 and under, but others do not. This is typically outlined in the host farm profiles.
Those under the age of 18 need permission from their guardians to participate.
No. But host farms are looking for self-starters, problem solvers, good communicators, and a willingness to work outdoors in a variety of weather conditions. These positions are entry-level.
Look at the mentor list and see who is there, and what you are interested in. Try and match what you want to learn with the farms and highlight this on your application. Reflect on what you want to get out of the program.
It can also be beneficial to come to a YA event and get to know the community - you might meet a potential host farm there. You could also reach out to the farms directly - for instance, if you meet a farmer at the farmers' market, ask if they have volunteer opportunities.
Reflect on why you want to take on an apprentice and what previous experience you have training others. List what regenerative practices and principles that you can teach on your farm. Review our Is an Employee or an Apprentice a Better Fit and the Thinking of an Apprenticeship - Are You a Good Fit? blog posts. Training is provided to participating host farm mentors before the apprenticeships begin.
Yes! The YA Apprenticeship coordinators provide guidance and basic apprenticeship structure in order to ensure a consistent model across the program. They are available to brainstorm how the program fits for the host farm. They answer inquiries from potential applicants and support the application process. They organize farm tours throughout the season for participants to network and learn more. They are also available to discuss solutions to any needs or challenges that arise.
Yes. You’ll need to work with your co-op coordinator at your university or college and liaise with the YA Apprenticeship Coordinator in your province.
Does the program accept applications from international people interested in a farm apprenticeship in Canada?
If you are applying from another country, please read carefully:
To participate in the Apprenticeship Program international applicants must have a work visa. The Young Agrarians Foundation is unable to provide sponsorship.
If you do not have a visa, we encourage you to look into the International Rural Exchange Canada Inc. (IRE) is an organization that helps international agricultural trainees find work placements: https://awaytowork.ca. You may also want to look into the IEC program. To find out which countries are participating in the IEC, click here. If none of the above options are available to you, you may want to try to go through a registered immigration consultant.
2024 Host Farms – Coming soon!
See 2023 farms below:
|Alberta||Town||What you’ll learn||Position|
|Sand Springs Ranch||Lac La Biche, AB||Pigs, cattle, market garden, mixed farming|
|Backwoods Buffalo Ranch||Mayerthorpe, AB||Bison, pigs, pastured chickens, vegetables, farm store|
|350 Farms||Cold Lake, AB||Pigs, pastured poultry, agritourism|
|Triple Lyoness Farm||Westlock, AB||Cattle, pastured poultry, pigs|
|Common Ground Garden Project||Red Deer, AB||Urban agriculture, outreach, composting|
|Carrots by Cam||Carseland, AB||Market garden, root vegetables|
|The Homestead||Goodfare, AB||Market garden, cattle, pastured poultry, pigs|
|First Nature Farms||Goodfare, AB||Pigs, bison|
|Root and Regenerate Urban Farms, Leaf & Lyre Urban Farm, Land of Dreams, Chef’s Farmer||Calgary, AB||Urban agriculture, market gardening, cultural work|
|Grey Arrow Farm||Camrose, AB||Market garden|
|Sundog Organic Farm||Gibbons, AB||Market garden|
|Good Note Community Farm||Looma, AB||Farm enterprise development, homesteading, agricultural education|
|Lady’s Hat Farm||Castor, AB||Flowers, lamb, honeybees|
|Reclaim Organics||Pigeon Lake, AB||Market garden, year-round microgreens|
|Saskatchewan||Town||What you’ll learn||Position|
|Tee Two Land and Cattle||Kelliher, SK||Cattle, grain|
|Wakamow Free Food Farm||Moose Jaw, SK||Market garden, perennial fruit|
|Springer Family Farm||Foam Lake, SK||Cattle, grain, worm composting|
|Diamond F Farms||Foam Lake, SK||Sheep, Grain|
|Axten Farms||Minton, AB||Grain – growing, seed cleaning, milling|
|Katerynych Family Farm||North Battleford, SK||Gluten free organic grain|
|Richards Family Farm||Bangor, SK||Cattle, regenerative crops|
|Upland Organics||Wood Mountain, SK||Organic grain|
|Grovenland Farm||Lanigan, SK||Chickens, pigs, cattle, vegetables|
|Manitoba||Town||What you’ll learn||Position|
|Luna Field Farm||Ninette, MB||Cattle, pigs, laying hens|
|Green Pastures Farm||Gardenton, MB||Sheep, wool, turkeys, crops|
|Green Beach Farm and Food||Strathclair, MB||Cattle, pigs, chickens, horses|
|Long Way Homestead and Ferme Fiola Farm||Ste. Genevieve||Sheep, wool, milling|
|Boundy Farms||Cartwright, MB||Cattle, sheep, chickens|
|Fresh Roots Farm||Cartwright, MB||Honey bees, cattle|
|Fostering Change Farm||Balmoral, MB||Cattle, pigs, goats, poultry|
|Dunrea Farming Company and Prairie Knight Farms||Dunrea, MB||Market garden, grain|
|Almost Urban Vegetables||Winnipeg, MB||Market garden, homestead|
|Dogs Run Farm||Clearwater, MB|
Apprentice Application Process:
Only complete applications will be reviewed by the host farms. Applicants must be 16 years of age or older to apply.
Applications for the 2024 program will open in December 8, 2023 and closes January 31, 2024.
STEP 1: Online Application –
Step one fill out an online application. (Application link will be available November 6.)
STEP 2: Telephone Interviews
Successful applicants will be contacted for an interview with the host farm and program coordinators.
STEP 3: 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 4: Offer of Apprenticeship Position
Confirmation of successful applicants will be in February.
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.
STEP 6: Placements Begin
Apprentice start dates vary by farm however are generally April or May.
Still have questions? Contact:
Marsha Shack, YA British Columbie & Alberta Apprenticeship Coordinator
Alieka Beckett, YA Saskatchewan Apprenticeship Coordinator
Sara Yagelniski, YA Manitoba Apprenticeship Coordinator
HEAR FROM PAST APPRENTICES
Wondering what it’s like apprenticing on a host farm? Check out our Apprenticeship blog, or dig into a few of the apprentice’s thoughts on their experiences below.
In 2021, Bronwyn was an apprentice at Gripfast Farms near Binscarth, MB. The farm primarily focuses on regenerative agriculture methods to raise grass-fed beef and is owned by Doug Turnbull and Carol Lanz-Turnbull.
“I think they really cared about finding somebody who was keen on regenerative farming and wanting to farm…they talked about how much they just wanted to pass down information and grow new farmers. I really felt like they weren’t just looking for extra hands to work. They really wanted to mentor.”
We chatted with Bronwyn to learn more about her experience as an Apprentice here.
A 2021 apprentice at Dirt Boys Open Farm with Michael Gavin, Chelsea encourages others to apply for the Apprenticeship program as it differs from other farm jobs. “I’m not only learning from my experience with Michael, but from the experiences of all my other apprentices…fellow apprentices, from their mentors [and] from their farms,” she said. Read a full interview with her here.
As a 2019 apprentice on Steel Pony Farm, an 8-acre vegetable farm just south of Red Deer, Julia learned all about soil health, crop planning, seed selection, vegetable production, and direct and wholesale marketing.
“When I think about my time spent as an apprentice at Steel Pony Farm, my heart just warms right up and my face turns into this expansive grin. For anyone considering the apprenticeship program, JUST DO IT! Do it do it do it. For me it got to the point where I just had to take the leap, and I am beyond grateful I did. I now feel like farming is an actual possibility for my future, and am enjoying the process of getting there.”
Read about her full experience here.
The Young Agrarians Apprenticeship program curriculum and materials have been inspired and adapted from the Quivira Coalition’s New Agrarian Apprenticeship program.
Photo credits: Mich Lam