YA Apprenticeship 2024: Red Deer, AB – Common Ground Garden Project

Posted by Kolby Peterson on November 10, 2023 2 Comments

About the Farm

In partnership with the City of Red Deer, we operate two main urban agriculture project sites; Common Ground Garden Project (CGGP) and Piper Creek Restoration Agriculture Project (PCRAP). CGGP initiated in 2020 and is a 4-acre multi-phase, brownfield redevelopment located at the former Electric, Light & Power site in the southwest corner in the Capstone development area in downtown Red Deer. It consists of a number of interactive, accessible, above-ground, 4-season gardening spaces designed to be moveable and intends to increase food security, encourage social enterprise, share knowledge, and create social connections. We demonstrate 4-season growing through annual vegetable and flowers production for the Red Deer Food Bank, Mustard Seed, social agencies, and schools interested in bringing their outreach activities, programming, and learning opportunities to the site.

The Piper Creek Restoration Agriculture Project was initiated in 2014 and is repairing and improving the historical impacts on an important riparian and agricultural area in the Red Deer River watershed (approx. 25 acres) by regenerating and enhancing Red Deerians’ understanding of, and relationship with, the natural world. The City of Red Deer has one of its community gardening sites operating at the location and is complemented by a perennial food and pollinator ecosystem including an 11,000 sqft food forest and pollinator garden, an eco-buffer, timber frame barn that actively and passively harvests rainwater, and numerous riparian planting areas across the site.

Both sites require daily observation and management over the course of the growing season with outreach and educational opportunities scheduled throughout the year.

About the Apprenticeship

The apprentice would be participating in the entire spectrum of food production including community stakeholder engagement and special event planning and delivery. We have two main project sites that require daily observation and maintenance in addition to programming delivery for our volunteers and visitors to the site(s).

Main apprenticeship duties include, seed planning and starting, soil building and composting, brewing and application of actively-aerated compost teas and extracts, caring for seedlings and transplants, greenhouse / hoop house / cold frame construction and management, raised (bale and wood) bed management, rainwater harvesting design and management, drip irrigation planning and installation, basic garden tool and equipment use and management, transporting goods between project sites and local markets, promoting, preparing for and managing farmers market booths, social media management, delivery / participation in workshops and educational / outreach opportunities with people from all walks of life, working with and teaching volunteers with diverse backgrounds in gardening and agriculture, participating in stakeholder engagements for project development, assisting in the development of a Participatory Guarantee System and creation of an online farmers market for local producers and new entrants into agriculture.

You will meet with other apprentices across the Prairies 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.

About the Farm Mentors:

The apprentice will be working alongside a variety of folks. Rene Michalak will be one of the main mentors. He is the Project Manager for Common Ground Garden Project .

The Sustainable Red Deer Society (operating as ReThink Red Deer) is dedicated to enhancing the long term quality of life in Red Deer and surrounding area. We seek out and share ideas that inspire citizens to make and create sustainable consumer choices – global in awareness, local in application. Members believe that we are citizens first and consumers second; that our world is finite and borrowed from future generations; that we can live sustainably and in harmony with nature; and that inspiration is a renewable resource.

Mission: We promote citizen-driven leadership through sustainable planning and living in the Red Deer region.

Vision: We envision a community that is living sustainably. ReThink Red Deer is driven by the energy of its members and coordinates its action around four key principles:

1) Smart Urban Planning

2) Waste Minimization (aka Zero Waste)

3) Protecting and Enhancing Natural Assets

4) Reinvigorating the Democratic Process

We believe in starting where we can – with our own lives, and our own community – Red Deer.

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.

urban agriculturefencing
market gardeningproject management
permaculture designcommunity capacity building
watershed managementag education
rainwater harvestingcompost/compost tea brewing
greenhouse managementirrigation set-up/use
renewable energy designstakeholder engagement

Skills Required of the Apprentice

Basic gardening / agriculture skills are essential. Past work with a non-profit is a strong plus. The ability to do physical labour on a day-today basis is essential, so being physically fit and able to lift weight in the range of 30 to 80 pounds is essential. First Aid and worksite safety training is a definite asset. Volunteer engagement / management and special event planning and execution are also valuable skills that offer enhanced apprenticeship opportunities. A willingness to be part of a creative process, open-mindedness and strong communication skills, flexibility, improvisational skills, and the ability to think on your feet and outside the box are highly valued. Concrete-sequential thinkers can succeed but we need people who are comfortable working in uncertainty, who can see beyond the immediate and obvious, understand that everyone has a role to play / is learning as they go through life, and align with the philosophy that none of us are as smart as all of us. The rewards are well-worth the effort and build transferable skills that last a lifetime.

Housing, Stipend and Duration

The apprentices would live in the Red Deer area and have accommodations of their own. If accommodations are required, we will work to recruit host families for apprentices and/or secure seasonal student housing at Red Deer Polytechnic campus

Shared harvest from project sites as available, access to the BBQ and special event / workshops food as available to volunteers, participants and vendors. Otherwise, apprentices are expected to provide for their basic meals and snacks.

A wage will be paid to the Apprentice. The ideal length of apprenticeship is 8-12 months.

About the Community

The Red Deer region is in the centre of it all, located halfway between Calgary and Edmonton. Red Deer is young, vibrant, and growing fast with a median age of under 35 years. The Red Deer region is made up of the City of Red Deer and Red Deer County. Residents and visitors enjoy exploring more than 110 km of trails that traverse the Waskasoo Park System, participating or watching sports in top-notch facilities, discovering unique attractions, and attending a variety of cultural events. Our history is as unique as our name. The name Red Deer was really a misunderstanding, but it kind of stuck. The city was named for the river that flows through it. Cree people called the river that passes through the present-day city “Waskasoo Seepee,” which translates to “Elk River.” Unfortunately, the first Europeans in this area were traders and not naturalists. The British traders thought the local elk were European red deer and translated the Cree name as “Red Deer River” instead of “Elk River” and that is why our city is called Red Deer. In fact, our community also identifies as “The Garden City” given the strong and inspiring work of horticultural leaders and enthusiasts. More info here – https://www.reddeeradvocate.com/columns/dawe-red-deer-used-to-be-the-garden-city

The Red Deer region has the finest accommodations that offer stunning views, and easy access to downtown, shopping, recreational facilities, and public places. Red Deer and central Alberta is known for its plentiful sporting facilities, events, and friendly people. With an abundance of passionate volunteers, Red Deerians are here to enhance the active lifestyle experience. We are fiercely proud of our community and the quality of life it affords.

Treaties 6 and 7; The City of Red Deer acknowledges the Indigenous traditional territories represented by Treaty 6 and 7 as the land The City is situated on. This land is also acknowledged as an historic Métis gathering site. ReThink Red Deer in collaboration with The City of Red Deer aim to work together with Indigenous peoples in building a welcoming and inclusive community

Be sure to check out the Common Ground Garden Project and the Piper Creek Restoration Agriculture Project on the world wide web!

Check out 2023’s “from the field” story to hear about the apprenticeship experience.

More Details about this Apprenticeship and How to Apply 

Applications open: December 8, 2023
Deadline to apply: January 31, 2024.

Interested in an Apprenticeship but this isn’t quite the right one? Check out other Young Agrarians Prairie Apprenticeships being offered in 2024 here. 

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