YA Apprenticeship 2021: Shell Lake, SK – Lazy Plum Farm

Posted by Sara Yagelniski on January 04, 2021

Are you an aspiring farmer looking for a homesteading experience with mixed livestock, vegetables, and an orchard in the Boreal Parkland region? Lazy Plum Farm in Saskatchewan is offering an apprenticeship just for you!


Lazy Plum Farm is located near Shell Lake, Saskatchewan within Treaty 6 Territory.

Dianne and Tyler purchased the farm in 2003. At the time it was an abandoned homestead, with nothing really except buildings that needed to be demolished. They transitioned from  urban lives slowly, moving to live at the farm full-time in 2005. Their goal was to learn about sustainable living and sustainable agriculture, to produce good food, and to have fun. The farm produces and direct markets meat (yak, pork, lamb, chicken, duck, turkey). They also market some vegetables in season. A small store in Saskatoon retails their yak meat and duck eggs.

Almost all of the meat, vegetables, and herbs eaten on the farm are grown on the farm. They ferment food and drink, make their own sugar, their own cheese, and their own sausages. 

The farm prioritizes soil health with practices including: composting and applying compost, minimizing or eliminating tillage in garden areas, multi-species grazing, rotating crops, growing legumes in the orchards, vermiculture, and making and applying compost teas (efficient microbes).

Lazy Plum Farm has invested in infrastructure to reduce their carbon footprint, including a solar array, no-energy livestock watering bowls, electric/alternative fuel vehicles, and solar powered watering and electric fencing systems for the pastures. They have carefully selected their livestock breeds for environmental stewardship too. Tibetan yaks are both browser and grazers. The yaks, and all of the livestock, are winter hardy and able to thrive outdoors (with adequate shelter from the wind and bedding in the winter).

Dianne and Tyler do like to take some time off to enjoy playing music with friends, going for a canoe on the small lake next to their farm, mushroom hunting and other wildcrafting, etc.

About the apprenticeship:

An apprentice would learn about and help with tasks including:

  1. animal husbandry work (feeding, watering, bedding, health checks, fence checks, caring for orphaned, sick or injured animals, birthing assistance, egg collection and cleaning, mixing and moving animal feed, moving animals, constructing and repairing fences, brush clearing and tree removal, pasture rejuvenation)
  2. butchering animals
  3. garden (planting, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, cleaning, storing vegetables and herbs)
  4. orchard(pruning, weeding, harvesting, storing fruit)
  5. customer-related work (farm tours, filling orders, invoicing, etc.)
  6. routine maintenance and cleaning of farm equipment and infrastructure
  7. helping to complete building projects, including an on-farm butcher facility and more
  8. composting (vermicompost, moving bedding and other wastes to compost piles, turning piles)

Because their farming operation is so diverse, they are able to provide learning opportunities across a wide range of areas. They would provide explanation and supervision of tasks, along with supplementary learning materials for apprentices to use in their spare time if they wish.  There is an extensive library that includes reference materials on a broad range of topics, including animal husbandry, horticulture, permaculture, meat processing, natural building, etc.

Extra projects this year may include: completing an on-farm butchering facility, hide tanning, fibre processing, building a duck pond, expanding the perennial garden, converting a tractor to be solar powered.

As part of the apprenticeship, you will meet with other apprentices across Saskatchewan 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

Tyler Rendek and Dianne Manegre both grew up in the city and had limited experience living in the country. They had worked in community development and had connections to farmers through work with the Good Food Box program in Saskatoon as well as helping to launch a biennial organic producers conference. They grew an extra large garden in the city, where they grew a lot of food. With the start of these rural connections and their involvement with the Prairie Institute for Human Ecology (that promoted sustainable living), they started to think about changing their lives, and made the leap after finding a beautiful spot nestled in the boreal forest. And now they have 15 years of experience living with and from the land and are passionate about sharing their knowledge and skills.

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.

annual Garden management perenial garden/orchard management
animal husbandry animal butchering
building / repairing  infastructure equipment maintenance
soil health & intercropping direct marketing / customer relations
Compost Heritage livestock Breeds

Skill required of the apprentice

Driver’s license would be good but not necessary. Skills are not as important as enthusiasm and aptitude. Appropriate work attire, including footwear and work gloves.

Housing, Stipend and Duration

They have camper trailers for apprentices. The kitchens in the campers do not work.
The majority of food consumed on the farm is produced on the farm. They share all meals. There will be a fee for room and board deducted off wages.

Laundry, internet, library are available and can be used during the apprentice’s spare time. There are canoes/kayak as well camping equipment that can be used in a responsible and respectful way.

Wages: $14.00/hr (35 hrs per week)
Apprenticeship is from April 26, 2021 to October 29, 2021

About the Community and Land

Within Saskatchewan, the farm is 1 hour and 40 minutes to North Battleford, 1.5 hours to Saskatoon, and 1 hour to Prince Albert. The Farm is about 10 minutes away from the Village of Shell Lake, Saskatchewan, and , 30 minutes away from a couple of larger towns. Shell Lake is a resort community that bustles in the summer months but is quiet the rest of the year. There is a restaurant, a bar, a regional park with a lake, and a golf course in or adjacent to the Village. 

The farm (used to) host a regular gathering on Sundays to play music and sing. In the winter there’s snowshoeing and skiing. The farm is quite isolated, at the end of a small road with only a couple of neighbours within walking distance. Their property is adjacent to a lake. There are only two properties on the lake, one is seasonal and one belongs to a friend. Dianne and Tyler keep canoes/kayaks at their friends’ place, for easy access to the lake that farm workers are welcome to use. The farm is surrounded by the boreal forest that gives lots of opportunities for hiking, appreciating wildlife, and wildcrafting.

“Our farm is located on Treaty 6 lands. Our northern neighbour, with whom we share a fence line is Ahtahkakoop First Nation. One of our close neighbours is an Indigenous trapper. Our farm, located as it is in the boreal forest, is not prime agricultural land, but rather is best suited for traditional hunting, fishing and gathering, which continues to happen on and around our farm.  We have employed several young Indigenous people to work on our farm. I (Dianne) recently discovered my own Metis heritage. We have worked for several decades in various capacities assisting Metis and Indigenous communities to improve their social and economic circumstances. Through this work and these connections, we have become deeply aware of the historical and current issues faced by Indigenous people.”
-Dianne Manegre

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 colonization in mind, working towards 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 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.

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