YA Apprenticeship 2020: Blue Mountain Biodynamic Farm – Carstairs, AB

Posted by Kolby Peterson on December 27, 2019

Are you an aspiring farmer looking for hands-on farming experience on an ecological farm? Are you interested in organic farming and biodynamic practices? Blue Mountain Biodynamic Farm is looking for a farm apprentice starting this spring to join their team.

About the Farm

Blue Mountain Biodynamic Farm is a highly diversified operation located on 160 acres of rolling prairie and parkland. Owned and operated by husband and wife team Kris and Tamara, the farm produces cereal grains, forage crops, culinary herbs, vegetables, flowers,
eggs and meat products, and the farm as a whole is certified organic by Ecocert, with
our gardens also being certified biodynamic by Demeter Canada. Farm products are marketed locally, via a CSA, other box programs, retail stores, restaurants and at a Farmers’ Market.

Blue Mountain Biodynamic Farms, as an agricultural enterprise, began on Kris’ family
farm in 1998, with Kris and Tamara together incorporating the farm business in 2012
and purchasing the land in 2018. The farm has taken organic and agro-ecological
approaches to production since 1998, first receiving certified organic status in 2000 and
then taking on biodynamic certification for vegetable production in 2010.
The farm’s activities are determined by the seasonal production of vegetables, grain and
forage crops, with the livestock being a slightly less intensive, but year-round and daily
undertaking. Kris, Tamara, and the team work longer days as the season progresses, but with the exception of Kris and Tamara themselves, everybody on the farm has two days off
per week. Most of the team is engaged in vegetable production and all that it entails,
while one or two team members are engaged in livestock production and its associated tasks.

Kris + Tamara 4 photos

About the Apprenticeship

Apprentices will have the opportunity to learn skills associated with aspects of running a very diverse commercial farming enterprise. There are two different areas that interns can focus on and will be asked to specify which area they are applying for:

1. Animal husbandry
 Daily care of pigs, laying hens and meat birds
 On-site feed-making for hogs and chickens
 Cleaning barns and runs
 Machinery / equipment operation and repair
 Grain and Hay production
 Fencing and infrastructure repair and maintenance
 Participation at weekly farmers markets (may or may not happen)
 Tote washing
 Contribute to a communal living situation with your fellow interns and farm
employees – cleaning communal spaces, meal prep and cooking, dishes etc.

2. Greenhouse and Field vegetable production
 Seed starting and care
 Transplanting crops on a regular basis throughout the season
 Weeding and garden maintenance
 Installing drip irrigation / hoop houses / row covers / etc.
 Pest and weed control
 Greenhouse work / watering / secession planting / bed prep
 Garden bed prep for secession planting
 Harvesting for various sales avenues (CSA, farmers market, retail stores etc.)
 Vegetable prep, storage and putting orders together
 Direct Marketing
 Participation at weekly farmers markets
 Tote washing
 Contribute to a communal living situation with your fellow interns and farm
employees – cleaning communal spaces, meal prep and cooking, dishes etc.

As part of the apprenticeship, you will meet with other apprentices across Alberta who are part of the Young Agrarians Apprenticeship program. Field days, learning opportunities and potlucks will be planned with this group at each host’s farm. You will also be invited to attend the 2021 Organic Alberta Conference.

2020 Pigs 4 photos

Skills this farm has to teach: 

The following skills are being offered by this farm. While you’ll get exposure to many of these areas, it is likely that not all will be covered. Apprentices will work with the host to identify the skills they want to develop as part of a learning plan.

LIVESTOCK HUSBANDRY MARKET GARDENING
LIVESTOCK HEALTH SEED SAVING
LOW STRESS LIVESTOCK HANDLING DIRECT MARKETING
POULTRY HUSBANDRY WHOLESALE MARKETING
GRAZING CSA MARKETING
GREEN HOUSE MANAGEMENT SOIL FERTILITY / NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT
ORGANIC AND BIODYNAMIC FARMING PRINCIPLES

Requirements of the Apprentice

It would be an asset to have experience working physically and working outdoors. The apprentice must be physically fit, be able to lift up to 60 lbs, and have a positive attitude while working in varying conditions. The apprentice must have good communication skills and be able to ask for what they need.

Housing, Stipend and Duration

Depending on the length of their stay, we have a few different housing options:
1 large house with 3 bedrooms,
1 cabin (wood stove, no running water),
1 suite (electric heat and no running water);
A large, well organized communal kitchen located in the house for all our interns and
employees to share. Every intern will have their own private room with shared
kitchen/bathroom/laundry. There is on-farm Wi-Fi (though not always reliable), a communal library, and a shared vehicle (for those 26yrs+ and a clean driving record),

The stipend available to apprentices at Blue Mountain varies depending on level of
direct experience working in a similar setting.

The apprenticeship will last 6-8 months, between March/April/May – October/November.

About the Community 

Carstairs is located approximately 70 km northwest of Calgary and is about 60 km away from the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Blue Mountain is a 10 minute drive from the town of Carstairs, where there are a few restaurants, grocery store, library, museum, (no pool or sports center). There is plenty of beautiful countryside to explore, especially in the foothills and mountains to the west. 

2020 Garden 4 photos

More Details about this Apprenticeship and How to Apply 

NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS.

Interested in an Apprenticeship but this isn’t quite the right one? Check out other Young Agrarians Alberta Apprenticeships being offered in 2020 here. 

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