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Position: Diversified Organic Farm Apprenticeship
Type: apprenticeship with room and board, events, course, more (see below)
Organization: Meeting Place Organic Farm
Location: Lucknow, Ontario (near Lake Huron, Goderich)

Meeting Place Organic Farm is a 100 acre family farm which we have owned and operated since 1973. It is located in SW Ontario, near Lucknow in the picturesque rolling farmland of northern Huron County.

We offer quality farm fresh food for your table from our family farm. We have certified organic pastured pigs, certified organic grass fed cattle and organically raised pastured poultry. We produce grass-fed beef (no grain) and GMO and antibiotic free pork and chicken, organic apples and apple butter, vegetable, herb and heritage tomato seedlings. We cooperate with several other local farms to provide organic lamb, maple syrup and honey. We welcome customers to pickup at the farm, but are happy to deliver.

We farm organically with draft horses and have a mixed livestock operation designed to nourish the soil and produce food in an ecologically sustainable manner. We pasture our cattle and feed our own hay in the winter. Our pigs and chickens live on pasture as long as the weather is willing, as well as eating fresh garden weeds. We are founding members of the Ecological Farmer’s Association of Ontario. Some of our farm products have been certified organic for 27 years. Our organic certifier is Ecocert Canada. We file an annual application with them which they review to ensure compliance with the Canadian Organic Standards and do a yearly farm inspection and visit to our farm.

We offer training in farm life skills and working draft horses. We offer Holistic Management training for farm families to learn how to improve their decision making for healthy land, people & profits. We can also consult on vegetable garden design, freezing and processing garden produce and apple tree pruning.

We are members of the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) in Southwestern Ontario, which is an informal, member-driven network of farmers that offer apprenticeships on their organic and ecological farms. The goal of CRAFT Ontario is to enhance the apprenticeships offered by its member farms. The primary method of doing this is to offer regular field trips which usually take place at selected CRAFT farms. We are founding members of CRAFT Ontario.

An apprenticeship with Meeting Place Organic Farm is an exchange. An apprentice receives meals, housing, instruction, access to a vast library and knowledge base and experiential education in exchange for their labour and the skill base that they bring to the farm. This has a real dollar value for the apprentice and a real financial cost to the farm.

Why apprentice with us?

Meeting Place Organic Farm offers a combined 100 years of experience with organic, sustainable farming. As a diversified operation, we teach you a broad set of farm skills that range from animal husbandry, to wood lot maintenance and chain saw skills, fruit tree pruning, gardening- from planning through harvesting and preserving, marketing, business management using Holistic Management, conflict resolution and working with draft horses, among many other things. There are the incredible people resources of Fran, Tony and Katrina, which you can formally and informally learn from, but we also have a huge resource library, many connections to other farms and producers so that your learning doesn't have to be limited to our farm. Apprentices participate in the monthly CRAFT days at the other farms in our node as well as in the mega days with all of the other CRAFT farms and apprentices in Southwestern Ontario.

Generally our apprenticeships run full season from mid-March through to the end of October, but we are open to shorter stays if there are complicating factors. Arriving in mid-March means that you get the experience of pruning, starting seeds and caring for seedlings, snow removal with our draft horses, fire wood collection from the woodlot, and any special projects that are starting in the spring.

In 2017 we are adding a community shared garden and potential flower CSA to the mix of livestock, orcharding and other farm experiences.

We generally work 6 days a week from about 7am to 6pm with breaks for breakfast, lunch and a nap/rest. There are times (like haying) when we work later into the evenings and on Sundays, due to weather and urgency. We take turns being responsible for chores on Sunday, so you could expect to be on for Sunday chores about once a month. We strongly encourage apprentices to take some time away from the farm, as long as it is arranged and planned with us in advance so that we can make sure it isn't going to land in the middle of haying season or some other "all hands on deck" time.

Apprentices are housed in the Lodge (with Katrina) or large canvas prospector tents. Apart from the farming, apprentices are very much a part of our family/farm living community: we share responsibilities for making meals, doing clean up, playing games, going to the beach, watching movies, going to Blyth plays and everything else that you'd do with your housemates/family.

Apprentices could have the opportunity to:

  • Work with livestock; cattle, pigs, meat chickens, laying hens, goats and draft horses.
  • Learn pasture management: fencing design, layout and then the actuals of putting up fencing, moving animals, taking down fencing.
  • Learn Holistic Management skills and techniques.
  • Water system use: how to design and use a portable water system for rotational grazing.
  • Be involved in all aspects of market gardening: seeding, bed preparation, transplanting, growing, mulching, weeding, pruning, picking, irrigating, protecting, harvesting... did we mention WEEDING, marketing, CSA share design, and selling.
  • Value added - making preserves, jams and pickles using our home grown produce.
  • Do orchard work: planting trees, protecting trees, watering trees, pruning trees, scything grasses, and picking fruit.
  • Home dairy production: milking goats, making cheeses, yogurts and ice-cream.
  • Depending on aptitude, apprentices will have the opportunity to learn to work with our draft horses.
  • Firewood harvesting - learn basics of felling trees, chainsawing, splitting and stacking wood.
  • Other general farm tasks - such as manure clean-out, spreading manure, haying, stooking grain, basic animal medical care, etc.
  • Much more.

Our apprentices become part of the farm team at Meeting Place Organic Farm. This means that you get a holistic, rounded experience and work the same hours and intensity that the rest of us do.

We provide learning opportunities for our apprentices, including but not limited to:

  • the CRAFT network monthly farm days
  • Evening education sessions with Tony, Fran and/or Katrina (set up at the apprentice's request)
  • Access to our extensive farm library - books and videos
  • Participation in educational workshops and courses (negotiated)

We include apprentices in local social gatherings and events. We go as a farm team to local theatre and community events. We also try and take time to relax and celebrate together, taking time to go to the local beach at Lake Huron, swimming in our pond, making occasions with cake or pie.

Though we want the focus of the season to be the farm. We also understand that everyone needs time away, so if you have something that you're hoping to do this season, let us know in advance and we can probably plan around it.

What we're looking for:

We're looking for apprentices who are:

  • passionate about sustainability and being stewards of the land
  • interested in learning all the the facets of running a successful farm business
  • aren't afraid to work really hard and get dirty
  • have a great sense of humour
  • enjoy working and living in community
  • care about creating a really good experience and product
  • love animals, but also value them as meat
  • are driven, motivated and want to learn
  • can take direction well and follow intricate details
  • are creative problem solvers who can help us come up with new ways of doing things
  • ability to work independently
  • team players

It's a bonus if you:

  • already have farm experience, especially with draft horses and/or market gardens
  • are competent at building / repairing things - whether buildings or machines.
  • studied something related to farming: biology, vet medicine, landscape design, permacuture, etc...
  • you like to play music (we don't really (or well), but we appreciate it)
  • have culinary skills - like bread baking, cheese making, etc...
  • you enjoy playing games: card, board or lawn.
  • are a social media guru

How to apply?

Fill out our online application form and/or send us an email,
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FoodWork ID: 37498       Date posted to Jan 11 2017