YA APPRENTICESHIP 2024: ROBLIN, MB – SKINNER NATIVE SEEDS

Posted by Justin Girard on December 15, 2023

Are you an aspiring ecological farmer AND interested in prairie restoration? Skinner Native Seeds has been growing and collecting native grass and wildflower seed for 25 years and is excited to offer an apprenticeship with a focus on native seeds and prairie restoration projects!

About the Farm

Skinner Native Seeds is located on Treaty 2 and 4 territory near Roblin and Inglis, MB. 

Skinner Native Seeds is a multi-generational family farm located in the beautiful Manitoba Parkland region near Asessippi Provincial Park and is located on the northern most region of the prairie ecosystem. The family has many years experience in the native seed and horticulture worlds and have a unique and close relationship with the land. The Skinners grow and wild harvest native grasses and flowers and lead seed installation and maintenance for a range of clients. They are the land holders of 320 acres, 120 acres of which are seeded to native grasses and flowers. They are excited to share their knowledge and passion with the upcoming generation of land stewards.

https://www.skinnernativeseeds.net/ 

About the Apprenticeship

This is a unique opportunity to work on an established native seed farm that is growing and expanding their operations as demand for quality native seed increases. During this apprenticeship you will follow the seed along its entire journey. In the spring, you will start native grass and flower seeds indoors and grow up seedlings/plugs for retail sale and planting out. Late spring / early summer will involve helping on a prescribed control burn of the field to stimulate grass seed production, along with planning and preparation of equipment, seed mixes and the land. The focus in summer will be on soil fertility, irrigation, weed and insect management. Seed collection both on and off farm at several beautiful remnant prairie sites also begins at this time as the seed of first spring blooms begin to ripen. As the season progresses there also may be opportunities to work on a large scale prairie restoration project with one of our organizational partners like the Nature Conservancy Canada. By the end of summer and early fall the focus will shift to full time harvesting and wild seed collection; this is where you will really hone your plant identification skills. Activities continue through the fall and into winter with seed cleaning, mixing, packaging and yearly equipment maintenance.  

With this apprenticeship there will be many opportunities to participate, learn and grow into different parts of the whole farm operation. If you are someone who not only loves plants, but is also sincerely interested in and committed to restoration and preservation of the endangered prairie ecosystem, then this apprenticeship is for you!

Also, 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 encouraged to attend a regenerative or organic food conference during or following the apprenticeship (with potential volunteer positions available).

About the mentors

John Skinner and Michael Skinner (Father and Son duo)
John and Michael both have extensive knowledge of and passion for prairie plants/ecology, native seed production and ecological restoration. John moved back to the family farm in 1993 and has been growing native grasses and flowers for the last 25 years. He has also been a high school teacher for a good part of his adult life so he is comfortable with and enjoys sharing knowledge. Michael grew up working on the farm, which inspired him to pursue a Biology degree at the University of Saskatchewan. He has worked for several years in resource conservation and ecological restoration at Riding Mountain and Grassland National Parks.  He returned to Manitoba in 2022 to farm with his dad to help meet the growing need for quality native seed. He also works as an ecological restoration coordinator for their operation; one of his first projects was coordinating a large restoration at Fort Ellice for Nature Conservancy Canada. 

The Skinner Family has a long history, stretching back almost a century, of collecting and cultivating plants in the Northwest Prairie Region of Manitoba.
Learn more here:
https://skinnerarboretum.ca/

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.

Wildflower and Native Grass IdentificationFarm Equipment Operation
Seed SelectionEquipment Maintenance
Seed CleaningTree/Shelterbelt Planting and Care
Greenhouse ManagementHarvest to Market Preparation
Seed Certification

Irrigation set up and maintenance

Marketing, Design and Packaging

Weed and Insect Identification

Zero-till rotational crop systems

Record Keeping and Basic Bookkeeping

Skills Required of the Apprentice

  • A good work ethic. 
  • A valid driver’s license. 
  • Some experience with machinery is an asset. 
  • Some knowledge of native plants is an asset. 
  • Willing to work outdoors in all weather conditions
  • Commitment to prairie restoration and preservation

Housing, Stipend and Duration

They are happy to work with the apprentice to find suitable accommodations nearby.
Room and board (i.e. rent and all meals) are to be covered by the apprentice.
If need be, there may be options for temporary housing on the farm.

Personal items and services (ex. Laundry, internet, vehicle/fuel) are the responsibility of the apprentice to purchase or arrange. Services listed above are available in the local communities of Roblin and/or Inglis; the apprentice will need a vehicle in order to access them. 

The apprentice wage will range from $16 – $20/hr, depending on experience and commitment. Work will usually be Monday to Friday 8:30 to 4:00pm, with some longer days  when working off farm.  

The duration of the apprenticeship is March to December but is flexible. There is potential for long term employment.

About the Community and Land

They farm in the Manitoba Parkland which offers a variety of outdoor recreational activities all year long. In the summer, they are a short driving distance from numerous beautiful lakes and are situated directly between the west sides of Duck Mountain Provincial Park and Riding Mountain National Park. In the winter they are 5 minutes away from Asessippi Ski Hill. There are groomed cross country ski trails located on the farm. They are  located between the village of Inglis, Manitoba and the town of Roblin, MB. Roblin has a grocery store and all the amenities one would need. The farm is located just over an hour to Yorkton SK,  2 hours and 15 minutes to Brandon MB, and just over 4 hours to Winnipeg MB. 

More Details about this Apprenticeship and How to Apply 

Deadline > January 31st, 2023

Contact Jenn – Manitoba Apprenticeship Coordinator for questions:
manitoba@youngagrarians.org