YA Apprenticeship 2021: Onoway, AB – Sunrise Gardens

Posted by Kolby Peterson on January 03, 2020 4 Comments

Are you an aspiring farmer looking for hands-on farming experience on an ecological and certified organic farm?  Sunrise Gardens is looking for farm apprentices starting this spring to join their team.

About the Farm

Sunrise Gardens is a market garden, in operation since 2003 and certified organic since 2007. First and foremost we recognize that we are stewards of Soil. Our livelihood is a product of our successful care for ourselves, the soil and the ecological systems we live within. We practice crop rotation, soil monitoring, compost building (thermal and static), biodynamic and permaculture practices, low-till, high density bed systems, low tractor use, ergonomic systems, and low to no waste and closed loop systems.

There are 10 certified acres on a 160 acre parcel of family land with approximately 100 acres of raw forest. We are located on the Sturgeon River and steward several kilometers of riparian land and wetland ecosystems. Sunrise Gardens specializes in season extension, soil building and year round production. We currently have two, 3000 square feet working greenhouses. One is primarily used for root crops and the other is used to grow greens, herbs and flowers. Both greenhouses are heated using a wood burning boiler system and all logs are harvested from the land. We also run a 4000 square foot shop for indoor year round production, processing, storage and vermicomposting. Indoor production includes shoots, sprouts and microgreens. Approximately 2 acres of crop land are cultivated per season, including perennial berries (raspberries, saskatoons and strawberries) and 2 acres are kept in green manure and perennial soil building crops.

SInce the focus is in season extension, there is more opportunity to allow for down time in the months of July and August to create better work-life balance and keep our most valuable resources (our humans) well and healthy.

About the Mentors


Sunrise Gardens is a partnership between the married unit of Dawn Boileau (primary farmer and mentor) and Kathryn Hook. We currently employ two long-time friends, Trish and Emily. We have an 18 year old son son who works with us part-time and generally one to two other part-time employees, as needed. Dawn’s father, Aime, is very involved and is our star volunteer. We sometimes hold ‘work parties’ where we invite farm friends and family to help with large projects in spring and fall, such as garlic harvest/planting and feed them delicious food in exchange. We greatly value our personal growth and development and are often involved in pursuits of a spiritual/creative/wellbeing nature. Dawn has long enjoyed working outdoors and with plants, she began the market garden 17 years ago with no prior experience but much determination. The appeal of organic farming and self employment was great enough to overcome the steep and sometimes painful learning curve.

About the Apprenticeship

The types of work and activities depend on the area of production and include:

Greenhouse Production:

requires seeding into beds (by hand and with push seeder), transplanting seedlings into beds, weeding by hand, soil moisture monitoring and watering as needed, log keeping of activities, cutting of produce.

Field Productions:

requires seeding, transplanting, weeding, bed preparation (raking, hoeing, etc.), log keeping, crop monitoring, soil moisture monitoring, harvesting, cleaning, weighing, packaging.

Indoor microgreen production:

requires filling trays with soil, seeding to trays, log keeping, watering, cutting, packaging, and general shop maintenance.

Other duties include composting (active-thermal), compost tea, mowing, berry picking, mulching, quality control (veggie/berry/greens sampling). There will opportunity to participate at farmer’s market and possible CSA. Indoor, flow through, year-round vermicomposting is our new venture in 2020.  

We also practice the permaculture principles and continue to incorporate more permaculture practices. We currently harvest rain water, increase our perennial systems, wildcraft, use composting toilets, practice work-life balance, and offer a library of learning materials.

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 2022 Organic Alberta Conference.


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.

Greenhouse  productionWildcrafting
FieLd crop productionRainwater harvesting
Indoor microgreens productionPERmaculture
Compost and compost Tea productionFood preservation and processing
BErry productionCsa direct marketing & farmers market


Housing, Stipend and Duration

We will provide a private room in the apartment space we have in our main shop. The kitchen and bathroom is shared space though seldom used by others. This space is comfortable, fully furnished and has access to the internet. Available to use is laundry, shower, library, walking trails, fire pit wood, possible vehicle use with clean abstract, and a ride share is available. The apprentice will receive a wage.

About the Community

The farm is on Treaty 6 territory and the traditional and ancestral lands of Cree, Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway/ Saulteaux/Anishinaabe, and Inuit Peoples. These communities have a deep relationship with this land based on, among other things, a spiritual connection and subsistence extending back thousands of years.

Young Agrarians recognizes the unresolved Indigenous land title and rights in the diverse territories in what is today called Canada. As we live and work in the context of and in response to a colonial system of laws and policies, it is important to acknowledge the historical and ongoing impact of agriculture and land enclosure on Indigenous lands and food systems. In this context, we acknowledge our collective responsibility to position Indigenous Peoples and their experiences with coloniality, in a narrative of reconciliation that places ecology, land stewardship, and Indigenous land title and rights at the forefront – if we are to sustain the Earth’s ecosystems in today’s rapidly changing climate.

Our deepest hope is that the future of our food systems is diverse, interconnected, and resilient, embraces people of all walks of life and sustains the water, plants, and creatures in ways that benefit and work alongside Indigenous Peoples and narratives and ways of knowing and caring for the land.

This farm, like many others, is surrounded by agricultural cultivated land, uncultivated land, Indigenous people and voices from non-settler walks of life. We encourage everyone to build relationship with the land and community that surrounds the place where you will be learning.

More Details about this Apprenticeship and How to Apply 

NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS – deadline is January 31, 2021.

Interested in an Apprenticeship but this isn’t quite the right one? Check out other Young Agrarians Prairie Apprenticeships being offered in 2021 here. 

4 thoughts on “YA Apprenticeship 2021: Onoway, AB – Sunrise Gardens

  1. Hi! Just wondering if this position has been filled yet? It sounds like a great opportunity that aligns with much of what I am hoping to learn about farming.

    1. Hi Jo,

      The deadline to apply for the Apprenticeship Program has passed, but send the coordinator, Kolby, a message to check (apprenticeship@youngagrarians.org). She also may know of a similar opportunity outside the program.


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