Are you an aspiring gardener, beekeeper, or livestock keepers looking to gain the hands-on skills and experience before starting your own farming business? Sage Valley Farm is excited to offer a meaningful apprenticeship to help you on your farming journey.
About the Farm
Located on Treaty 4 territory, South, Central Saskatchewan
Sage Valley Farm is a 4th generation farm. They raise pigs, chickens (for meat and eggs), ducks, turkeys and cows. All the animals are pasture raised free of antibiotics. The meat bird chicks usually arrive early April and are brooded in outdoor, moveable brooder boxes. They butcher their birds throughout the season, usually starting July-Sept. The farm has 2 greenhouses, 2 garden areas and several small orchard plots. The garden areas and greenhouses have irrigation set up for the most part but every spring see a few tweaks and changes to improve or solve the previous years issues.
There are 5 bee hives on farm that require weekly checking and then harvesting in the summer and fall. There is a small herd of cows for their own dairy needs, any steers born are raised up for meat and sold to customers. The land is currently in hay but they are looking to change some of that in favour of cover crops and managed grazing. The pigs and meat birds are moved daily, and cows are currently moved every couple of weeks depending on the rain and forage quantities. The bees also contribute to a healthier yard and field due to increased pollination.
The winter months are pretty slow but there are usually projects and planning to be tackled. The hatchery operation runs from Nov-April. This involves regular checks and collections of eggs to ensure they don’t freeze. A lot of planning goes into hatch dates to ensure there is the right amount of space for the chicks. They sell fertile eggs, day old chicks and ready to lay hens as well. All of their layer breeds are heritage breeds.
Check out Sage Valley Farm video:
About the mentors
Dustin Miller was raised on this farm and learned from his father who switched to organics in the early 90’s. Amy grew up in Alberta, living in several different small towns.
They met at Olds College where they studied Horticulture. They both have a love for plants and nature. Amy ran a landscape construction company in the Calgary area for 16 years with Dustin as lead Foreman and right hand man. In 2010, Dustin’s father discovered he had cancer. In 2011, Amy and Dustin bought the farm from him. They managed the farm from Alberta until 2016 when they decided to quit landscaping and focus entirely on the farm.
They believe in farming organically, working with nature, and in the last two years have been switching to more of a regenerative direction. They sell directly to customers and their sales are constantly expanding and growing. They are bringing a new coffee roaster online this winter.
The primary mentor will depend on which area of the farm the apprentice is most interested in. Dustin looks after more of the field work, meat birds, pigs and building projects. Amy looks after the laying hens, bees, gardens, marketing/advertising, and processing of products.
A farm does not need to be thousands of acres in size to make money. It just needs to be well thought out and in tune with nature as much as possible. And these are mentors who are happy to share what they have learned with a new excited apprentice!
About the Apprenticeship
Sage valley is an amazing small-scale diverse farm to grow many skills and interests! This apprenticeship will provide opportunities to build additional farm infrastructure, give input to new solutions and areas of the farm that need improving.
The apprentice will have several chores, tasks and or projects to choose from. This would include feeding of animals, operating field equipment, planting, harvesting, building, fencing etc. There is also an opportunity for an apprentice to learn to roast coffee! In the next few years, Amy and Dustin are wanting to complete a big push into mob grazing with cattle and there is a bunch of fencing that needs to be addressed before that can happen.
Next summer there are hopes to complete a couple water harvesting projects too!
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 to identify the
skills they want to develop to a learning plan with the host farm.
|Honey bees care / honey harvest||coffee roasting|
|Pastured poultry / ducks / turkeys||calving and raising cattle|
|Heritage breed chicken hatchery||cow milking|
|Pastured pigs||bailing / haying|
|starting bedding plants / greenhouse||Building / carpentry|
Skills, Tools and Equipment Required of the Apprentice
The apprentice should have their own cell phone, steel toed work boots, determination, sunscreen and a water bottle. (A sense of humor helps too).
A basic knowledge of tools and equipment would be great. Previous experience with animals would also come in handy. Tasks and chores would be “assigned” based off current skill sets and then additional skills could be taught to an open mind.
Housing, Stipend and Duration
This apprenticeship can be from 5-9 months, March through November. The mentors are open to the apprentice starting ASAP and providing work through the winter. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details!)
A stipend would be negotiable depending on skills and experience. Two meals a day provided with farm fresh food! The apprentice can stay in a cottage on the farm with large bedroom with a king sized bed, tv area, huge bathroom and a small kitchenette area. It also has a private deck area off the back.
Laundry is in the main house and can be used until 9pm. Internet is only available on individuals phones (personal data plan would be need to be used for internet) The apprentice will need their own vehicle for private use. .
Weekends are usually off. The weather usually dictates how much time the team has off. Work hours are usually 8am – 5pm.
About the Community and Land
Lisieux SK, is the closest community to the Farm and where the farm receives their mail. Assinaboia is a little bigger and is about 30 minutes away. Moose Jaw is the closest city and is 1 hour and 30 mins from the farm. Regina is 2.5 hours driving. During the summer, the family likes to take time off during the week to kayak or go for a hike or bike ride.
Grasslands national park (east side) is 1 hour from the farm – a great visit to the open native prairie. The big muddy badlands are a series of badlands in southern Saskatchewan and northern Montana along Big Muddy Creek. They are found in the Big Muddy Valley, a cleft of erosion and sandstone along Big Muddy Creek. – also worth visiting (about 1hr and 20 mins from the farm)
The farm is on Treaty 4 territory and the traditional and ancestral lands of the Lakota, Assiniboine, Cree, Sioux, and Blackfoot and Métis. The nearest First Nation to the community is Wood Mountain Lakota First Nation, which is a community from the roots of Chief Sitting Bull. 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.
The history of this land (where the farm is located) is culturally rich, like all land. These open plains were occupied by the buffalo; Indigenous people of the land maintained a very interwoven lifestyle with the buffalo. As farming moved in and the land was settled, fenced, owned and divided, the deep culture of the buffalo and the people who lived in a deep relationship with buffalo started to disappear from the area. There are stories from all the different cultural groups who live on and lived with the land, many more stories to learn and listen to.
Our deepest hope is that the future of our food systems are 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 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.
Deadline January 31st, 2021.
Interested in an Apprenticeship but this isn’t quite the right one? Check out other Young Agrarians Apprenticeships being offered in 2021 here.