Posted by Justin Girard on December 13, 2021

Have you dreamed of becoming an organic farmer? Your dreams are coming true! Colin and Andrea have an opportunity in 2022 for you to learn and work on their organic grain farm! In addition to all the great skills you will learn in cropping systems, you will learn about growing flowers for sale too!


Sylvan Lake Farms is located near Henribourg, SK– Treaty 6 Territory

Sylvan Lake Farms is a certified organic grain farm that uses crop rotation, cover crops, multi-year forage crops and is working on reducing tillage. They are also working on plans to implement livestock to improve nutrient cycling on the farm.

Colin and Andrea are both first generation and fourth generation farmers. Colin’s great-grandfather farmed, but the next two generations didn’t. They restarted the family farm and it has been incredibly difficult to do so, but the support from others has been incredibly valuable. Many farmers are close to retirement and do not have succession plans. Colin and Andrea can see that new farmers are needed to help take on these farms.

All of the land they farm currently is certified organic, although they take on land at times that has to be transitioned. They grow yellow flax, oats, Red Fife wheat,  peas, hemp and alfalfa.  In addition to organic grain farming, Andrea also started developing a small cut flower business last year.
Colin, Andrea and their family also likes to spend time during the summer at the lake.

About the apprenticeship:

The farm includes mostly small grains production, so an apprentice would be doing machinery maintenance, repairs and operating all types of equipment, tractors pulling tillage and seeding equipment, swathers, combines and potentially grain trucks.

They are looking at adding their first livestock into the operation in 2022, so there could be work with cattle and or chickens in a managed grazing system, fence building and repairs.

There would also be work with the cut flowers and vegetables in the garden.

As part of the apprenticeship, you will meet with other apprentices across Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta who are part of the Young Agrarians Apprenticeship program. Field days, learning opportunities and potlucks will be planned with the Manitoba group at each hosts farm.  You will also be invited to attend a regenerative or organic food conference during or following the apprenticeship.

Only 20 minutes away from many beautiful Saskatchewan lakes including
Christopher Lake:
6 Reasons Why You'll Love Emma & Christopher Lake

About the farm mentors:

Colin and Andrea MacDonald are the main mentors,  they have two young children – Graham (5) and Alison (1). They have a dog named Maggie and three barn cats.

Andrea is a trained RN, and has been at home full time parenting since Graham was born. She enjoys gardening and starting last year has started to build up a commercial cut flower enterprise on the farm.

Colin grew up down the road where his parents live. He has a degree in geography & political science from McGill University, but has spent his career in the agricultural equipment sector.  He sits on the board of Sask Organics.

The family enjoys time at the farm, walking and mountain biking along the river valley, camping at the lake, skiing, travel and big meals at home with family and friends.

Colin will be mentoring in field operations and farm management. Andrea will mentor with the garden and flower production.

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 through a learning plan with the host farm.  

Organic grain productionlivestock integration in cropping systems
cover cropssoil health
crop rotation / crop planninggardening
pasture raised chickens and cattleseeding / harvest season
cut flower productionmachinery operation and maitenance

Skill required of the apprentice:

*A keen interest in farming and a desire to farm in the future.
*Their own vehicle would be best for flexibility to go to the lake, to town, etc. on weekends as the farm truck isn’t suitable for recreational outings.
*Their own computer, tablet, etc. and phone are a must, though access to internet is provided.
*Suitable clothing, boots, coveralls, work gloves etc. 


Housing, Stipend and Duration:

*The apprentice will have a choice where they would like to stay. There are bedrooms available in two different farm houses (Colin and Andrea’s or Colin’s parents) or there is a camper trailer that can be used as accommodation outside of the winter months. And there will potentially be a cabin available too.

*Laundry is in the main house available for use anytime. High speed wireless internet at the farm is always available. And there is access to a farm truck if required to get to town.

*The family would typically provide food for breakfast and lunch (within reason of the apprentice’s choice) that they can prepare themselves. Supper each day would be provided and eaten with the family either in the farmhouse or in the field during busy periods.

*Pay will be discussed more in the interview and hiring process, at the minimum it will be a stipend of $1,000/month with meals and housing provided.

*6-12 months  – April 2022 – October 2022, with a possibility to extend.

*During seeding and harvest, time off happens when the weather forces it, so the crew is often working 12-16 hour days for weeks at a time. Outside of those busy periods hours may be as little as 4-8 hours per day with lots of time for leisure and weekends off. There is also opportunity for a longer stretch of a couple of weeks off during the slowest period of the summer.

About the Community and Land:

The farm is 1/2 a mile from the village of Henribourg, SK. There are no longer any businesses in the town, but there is a playground for all the children (for playful adults) in the community! The farm is about 30km NE of Prince Albert, which is their local commercial centre (groceries, medical, dental, farm equipment, etc.).
The farm is close to many beautiful big lakes and a national park where the family likes to spend time and where swimming, boating, hiking, etc. are all available. There is snowmobiling right out their back door and cross country ski trail networks a short drive away.
Colin and Andrea love to get together with various farming friends (as COVID restrictions permit), both organic and conventional, big and small farmers. They are part of the Northern Fringe Marketing Group – a large group of farmers, that hosts an annual get together, though it has been suspended because of COVID the past couple of years. They are also part of a loose group of organic farmers that holds an annual gathering/discussion group to share ideas and has continued virtually throughout the pandemic.

Sylvan Lake Farms is located in Treaty 6 territory – the traditional lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, and Métis nations.

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 

Deadline to apply > January 31, 2022

Contact Sara (program coordinator) for questions: manitoba@youngagrarians.org