YA APPRENTICESHIP 2022: Mayerthorpe, AB – Backwoods Buffalo Ranch

Posted by Kolby Peterson on November 30, 2020 6 Comments

Are you an aspiring farmer looking to gain experience on a diversified farm? Are you wanting to learn about raising pastured livestock, including Plains Bison? Backwoods Buffalo Ranch is offering a unique farming apprenticeship; join their team!

About the Farm

Backwoods Buffalo Ranch is owned and operated by Chad and Laurie Trigg, a Metis family from rural Mayerthorpe, Alberta. Backwoods is an organically minded ranch and homestead situated on 320 stunning acres of natural Alberta prairie grasses, striking woods, rolling hills and scenic river views. They raise a variety of proteins including: pastured Pure Plains Bison, Pastured Pork, Pastured Chicken and Free-Range Eggs. They believe in raising animals the same way they raise their children, free-range and as natural as possible. Their animals have comparable dedication, respect, focus and value on their nutrition and wellness as the members of their family and live wholesome lives from birth to harvest.

About the Apprenticeship

Chad and Laurie pride themselves on feeding as many families as they can. The apprentice will be helping with all farm activities under both Chad and Laurie’s mentorship, and alongside their three small children who are very much involved in everything that goes on at the farm. The apprentice will get to participate in the whole cycle of rearing multiple kinds of livestock. This includes farrowing and calving; rotational grazing; pasturing chicken, pigs, and bison; egg production; and animal harvesting. The apprentice will learn proper handling, labelling, and marketing the various farm products at the farmers market and at The Triggs’ recently opened farm store! The family milk cow will keep an apprentice interested in small-scale dairy busy making butter, cheese, and other dairy products. The apprentice will help in the vegetable garden and greenhouse. Covid-permitting, the apprentice will join Chad and Laurie to help with cattle brandings on neighbouring farms and participate in farm events such as Alberta Open Farm Days.

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 2023 Organic Alberta Conference.

About the Farm Mentors:

Chad and Laurie are young farmers with a passion for wholesome food and homegrown everything. They will be the mentors at Backwoods Buffalo Ranch, each sharing their own areas of expertise. They have hosted WWOOFERS (short and/or long term volunteers participating in World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) for years. They take great pride in educating the public on where their food comes from and are looking forward to sharing the experience with an apprentice. 

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.

Pastured pork – farrow to finish market gardening
Building + Construction DIRECT MARKETING + farm store
Pastured Bison & Herd management Food processing/fermenting/preserving
pastured POULTRY Greenhouse management
ROTATIONAL Grazing Small-scale dairy +milk processing
EGG PRODUCTION animal processing
FARMERS MARKET SALES Livestock feeding + nutrition

Housing, Stipend and Duration

Housing will be on-farm in the Backwoods guest house. The washroom and kitchen in the main house are shared with the apprentice. The apprentice will have access to internet, laundry, written resources and books. Food is celebrated and dinners will be shared together with the Trigg family, with as many ingredients from the farm as possible. Breakfast and lunch foods will be provided but the apprentice will be preparing those two meals. Backwoods will be offering a stipend depending on length of stay and expertise. This apprenticeship will last from March-October, though they would welcome the right person for a year-round apprenticeship.

About the Community

The area is abundant in wildlife and there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.
Backwoods Buffalo Ranch is located near the small community of Mayerthorpe, Alberta.

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.

Be sure to check out Backwoods Buffalo Ranch on social media and the world wide web!

More Details about this Apprenticeship and How to Apply 

Deadline February 15th,  2022.

Interested in an Apprenticeship but this isn’t quite the right one? Check out other Young Agrarians Alberta Apprenticeships being offered in 2022 here. 

6 thoughts on “YA APPRENTICESHIP 2022: Mayerthorpe, AB – Backwoods Buffalo Ranch

  1. hi there,

    I think everything you are offering is exactly what I have been looking for my whole life but didn’t realize it until recently. I’m 30 years old and this is what I want to do, did you find someone to fill the apprenticeship?

    1. Hi Brodie,

      Thanks for your interest! The application period for our Apprenticeship Program has closed, but feel free to reach out to the farm directly (contact info should be on their website), and/or email our apprenticeship coordinator, Kolby, at apprenticeship@youngagrarians.org in case there are any openings in the program 🙂

      Good luck! And check out our U-Map for other farms to reach out to if neither of those leads work out: maps.youngagrarians.org


  2. Could you please delete my bison picture?
    I took this picture on 9th Dec 2018 when my husband and me were part of the WWOOF programme at Backwoods.
    I never gave permission to publish this picture. Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Anna,

      Our apologies. We will remove the photo and ask the farm for a different photo to use. Alternately we could write you a photo credit/link underneath the photo?


    2. Hi Anna,

      Please accept my apologies for posting your photo; I certainly did not intend to unfairly use your art. I just want to clarify which photo is yours – is it the one with Laurie, Chad, and their kids in the foreground and the bison in the background, or the one with just the bison?

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