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ORGANIC FARMING APPRENTICES

Positions: Apprentice (other position: Assistant Manager)
Farm: Laughing Apple Farm
Location: Salt Spring Island, BC (with housing, see below)
Dates: Jan – Nov 30, 2022

Are you a self-motivated person wanting to learn about small-scale farming and marketing in a hands-on way? Do you like a challenging job where there is a lot to learn? Do you want to work on independent projects once you learn the necessary skills? Do you enjoy learning more and more about one thing? If so, then this opportunity may be for you!

Where and what we are:

Laughing Apple Farm is located in a scenic and quiet spot on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. We have been farming here for 24 years and have developed efficient organic methods for producing a diversity of food year-around on a small scale.

Our farm was originally homesteaded in the 1880s and consists of about 120 acres of forest surrounding 40 acres of farmed land. We have a beautiful location – our property is on the western side of Ganges harbour and there are walking trails through the woods and to a beach, and a small lake where you can swim in the summer. On Salt Spring Island there is a dynamic community and our farm stand provides many opportunities to interact with interesting and like-minded people.

We grow tree fruit, berries, and veggies using organic and low-till methods. We grow crops in six greenhouses to extend the growing season as well as crops in large outside beds. We also grow hay (about 20 acres) and propagate and sell nursery plants from a large ornamental garden. In the fall we process most of our apple crop into apple juice with a commercial-scale apple press. We sell our produce primarily at our farm stand, and also to local stores and restaurants. Our bees produce a few hundred pounds of honey every year.

Our goal is to make delicious, beautiful, and nutritious produce and we are continually working to improve our knowledge and methods so that we grow better food and be better stewards of our land. We think providing food for people who live nearby generates community connection and is a worthy and fulfilling occupation for a lifetime.

Why would you want to do an apprenticeship at Laughing Apple Farm:

  • We grow a large diversity of crops! You can get experience growing almost 40 different crops and fruit.
  • We are a year-around farm. We grow crops through the winter and this is more challenging than seasonal crops!
  • You will learn about the whole cycle - from seed to plate - of growing edible plants organically with low tillage: seeding, transplanting, soil care and maintenance, methods of soil preparation, mulching, irrigation systems, harvesting, cleaning and preparation for sale, and marketing the produce.
  • You will be able to eat healthy food in every season and practice eating seasonally.
  • You will be involved with caring for chickens and get to know them as your friends!
  • You can learn to drive tractors with implements particularly when we make hay in early summer.
  • You can learn about apple harvesting and the varieties of apples we have as we pick them throughout the fall.
  • You will learn about apple pressing on a small commercial scale. We press our apples as well as many other people’s apples on the island.
  • We will help you learn how to pay attention to and be curious about the details of your tasks and how to push harder to do them better and more efficiently.
  • We will push you to think independently.
  • You will learn to market produce both at our farm stand and at other outlets on the island.
  • You have an opportunity to learn about beekeeping.
  • Salt Spring Island is a very diverse community committed to support small-scale agriculture. Our customers are doing interesting things! There are many opportunities to meet people in the community and learn from them.
  • You can find peace and quiet on our property.

Dates of position January – Nov 30, the apprenticeship runs a full eleven months, with options to stay for more time, and learn to prune in the winter.

Compensation

Compensation includes housing in a room in a two-bedroom cottage and a stipend of $700/month. The cottage has one bathroom, a fully equipped kitchen, living room, fireplace, washer and dryer; electricity, water, telephone (local calls) and Wifi are included. We provide some basic dry staples, produce from the farm, and gardening space for growing vegetables for your own personal use. The cottage is in very good condition and we ask that you have no pets. We provide WCB coverage for you as well.

Attributes we are looking for:

We are looking for mentally and physically healthy, strong (can lift 50 lbs), enthusiastic people with integrity and great work ethics. The ideal candidate can work in any weather, think for themselves and work independently, but be willing to take instruction or correction with patience and be able to work with others….and can have a sense of humor through it all! We are looking for people who learn quickly, ask questions when the job isn't clear, and are attentive to detail.

Preferred qualifications:

  • experience with physical labour – experience using garden tools helpful
  • experience working with the public helpful: must be able to work with our customers in a friendly and professional way
  • some experience with plants helpful – growing, weeding, planting, harvesting
  • physical and mental endurance – be able to work standing, kneeling, bending, lifting repeatedly
  • experience working outdoors – both on nice days and in heat/rain/cold
  • ability to work together with others as a team member
  • ability to work alone and independently

Our property is a non-smoking environment and we ask that you do not take recreational drugs on our property.

What will your days be like here:

We expect that you will work 40 hours most weeks. Some busy mid-season weeks it could be up to 50 hours. Throughout the whole season we have a farm stand to open at 9 a.m. and stock, as well as other customer orders to fill. Everyday there are chickens to feed, coops to clean, and eggs to collect. You will be expected to share all these responsibilities with us and we hope that you will be able to take sole responsibility for some of those tasks as the season progresses. Sunday is usually a day off for everyone. Typically most days, you will work with someone else, especially in the first several months. Often there will be harvesting for a few hours by yourself. We try to have a weekly meeting where problems can be resolved, crops discussed, plans shared for the upcoming week, questions answered, so that everyone is aware of the goals for the week.

We begin the year in January seeding the early crops as well as the first succession plantings of our greens. We grow greens (lettuces, mustard greens, spinach, arugula, chard and kale) throughout the year. We have heated greenhouse space where we grow the seedlings until they can be planted in unheated greenhouse space or in outside beds. Most of the first three months is spent seeding, transplanting and harvesting greens. As the outside beds begin to dry out we start bed preparation (we use broad forks to turn the rows) for the early crops like peas and leeks. By April we are harvesting asparagus and rhubarb. In May we are harvesting peas and broad beans and planting out the broccoli crop.

As spring turns into summer, we focus on irrigation systems, nets for the berries and cherries, planting the greenhouse crops (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, melons and basil) and the outside crops (beans, squash, corn).

In the height of the summer, we focus on harvesting the larger crops (berries, carrots, potatoes, garlic, corn, tree fruit) and maintaining the beds (weeding, mulch). We harvest the garlic in the first few weeks of July (preparing the garlic for drying is a multi-person job over several days). Sometime in late June or early July we spend a week haying in addition to everything else. Throughout June, July and August we are harvesting and weeding the veggies crops we grow as well as raspberries, strawberries and blueberries and continuing the succession plantings of greens.

In the last part of August, the first apples begin to ripen so we begin harvesting apples. This continues through October and into November. Usually our first apple pressing can be in early September and we have 4-6 pressings through the pressing season into mid November, depending on the amount of the crop. They can be week-long events and the hours are long on those days.

We plant garlic in October and do bed cleanup and mulching in preparation for the winter months and continue seeding greens for the greenhouses and heated spaces for our winter greens crops.

Who we are:

Brian is a retired University research physicist who is still active in the field of ice particle research (he has a lab on the property and still builds instruments and does experiments). He fixes everything on the farm and there is opportunity for the s to help with these projects and learn everything from carpentry to welding. We usually have several repair projects on the go! Brian is involved in projects on the farm such as haying, bee-keeping, planting garlic, apple pressing, new bed preparation, moving chicken enclosures. Brian grew up on a raw milk dairy farm near Seattle.

Mary was a researcher in the field of climate science before she gave it all up and started farming full time. She also is an abstract painter and shows her work on the island. Mary is the person you will interact with on a daily basis. Mary manages the farm stand and is in charge of the planting, transplanting, and harvesting, and is the general all around go-to person. Mary has been growing food on Salt Spring Island on a full time basis since 2005.

How to Apply:

Please submit a resume to Mary Laucks at mlaucks@telus.net and a cover page of why you would like this position - answering at least the following questions:

  • What drew you to this job?
  • What are your skills – what have you done before and feel competent at?
  • What do you feel are your best traits?
  • What are your motivations and expectations for this job – do you expect to work a set number of hours per day? What do you want to learn?
  • What do you want to be doing in five years and how does this apprenticeship fit with your plans?
  • Have you ever done a job because you felt its completion was worth it, even if you may not have been compensated enough for it? Was that a good experience? If so, mention an example?
  • Have you ever worked and also lived with a person you didn’t know before?

Please provide at least three references, preferably from employers. If we think you are a good fit, we will arrange to speak in person online. Also, if possible, we can arrange a visit.

Please indicate you saw this posting at FoodWork.ca.
 

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Current status: Open/apply now.   Date posted: Nov 18 2021    ID: 61920