“Young farmer, learn as much as you can about farming and life. Listen to your elders, for they are wise… Whatever you learn, share that knowledge with others; whatever you grow, share with those who have less. Be prepared to meet the challenges ahead, but know that you are not alone.”
– Karen Washington, activist and farmer, Rise & Root Farm
Young Agrarians has launched its 2019 Alberta Apprenticeship Program, and we couldn’t be more excited to introduce this year’s crew. How they all ended up on Alberta farms would require a long night of storytelling around a campfire, but we are happy they chose Albertan soil to dig into for the beginning or continuation of their farming journey.
Folks rolled up to Nature’s Way Farm, home of Mary, Peter, Lilli, and Erik Lundgard on Friday evening. Peace-Country-brewed Grain Bin beer accompanied us on the sunny deck as we gathered ’round for a Young Agrarians introduction circle. The magic of these circles is that we never know in which directions they will take us. We shared where we are farming, what ecological agriculture means to us, and what our farming aspirations are. This brought on notes of seriousness and sadness, but not without hope. Ultimately, we all shared hope, the prerequisite attribute for all farmers.
Apprentices joined the Nature’s Way Farm crew for morning chores on Saturday before convening at the breakfast table where Mary spoiled us with a delightful spread. The table might just be the most powerful tool on any farm, for it is what holds the fruits of the farmers’ labour as well as holding space for gathering, planning, and reflecting.
A morning of thinking, sharing, and brainstorming ironed out program details and left our calendars a little fuller with upcoming farm tours and potlucks to attend, as the Apprenticeship cohort will be travelling around to one another’s farms throughout the season. We ventured outside in the afternoon, where Peter shared how Holistic Management is used on their farm before we boarded the Magic Farm Bus for a tour.
The farm tour transitioned into the potluck (an agrarian’s favorite hobby – we ARE a dedicated bunch of serial-potluckers, after all). Fellow farmers, friends, and community members joined us for the evening of good eating and grooving to the tunes of the Honey Cowboy. Some even stayed up late enough to watch the northern sky grow dark.
For anyone near Grimshaw on a Sunday, you can expect the drool-inducing smells of Mary’s famous pancake breakfast wafting around the countryside. After yet another encore meal, we loaded canoes and let the Peace River take us downstream.
Until next time! The next epic farm rendezvous awaits!
A few thank-you’s are in high order:
To Mary: Thank you for feeding our bellies; which, as you know well, also feeds the soul.
To the Lundgard clan: Thank you for hosting this group of Young Agrarians on your farm. Farms inspire, but only because of the decades of inspiring work done by the farmers.
To the Elder Agrarians: Thank you for stepping into the role of mentors, for stewarding the creativity and intelligence of apprentice farmers. You are needed.
To the 2019 YA Apprentices: Thank you for bringing your curiosity, your gifts, and your commitment to making the world a little sweeter through farming. We are lucky to have you.
All the best this season;
The YA AB Team