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REGENERATIVE FARMING

Positions: Regenerative Farm Apprentices 2022
Type: exchange for accommodation, meals, experiential learning, mentorship, plus $150/week stipend
Farm: Twisted Roots Farm

Location: Judique, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Housing: includes meals and accommodation, see below

Our invitation for the 2022 season here at Twisted Roots Farm is to offer opportunities for learning and growth through an apprenticeship program that will have participants dive into the depths of farming, permaculture, building, forestry, community living, off-grid living, outdoor education, and nature-based dialogue. This will be our fifth year here on this land, and our third year of growing localized, community-based food.

When we arrived here those many seasons ago, we landed in the middle of a forest. The days have been long at times and the work challenging; however, the vision of this place continues to inspire and motivate us towards creating something that will live beyond our lifetimes. Our vision is to form a non-profit that will create and offer educational and experiential opportunities accessible to all, with the ownership of the land being passed onto the community of Judique.

Many hands have helped us, and many of the projects and the energy of those who have found their way here continue to build the foundation of the farm. What has and is emerging is a place where we are exploring and experiencing the development of a permaculture demonstration site. Permaculture to us is about creating intuitive systems that work with the land base, a process of observation and listening to the land. We learn from our mistakes, and our development is slow as we dance to the rhythms of the seasons that continue to show us our successes and our failures.

An apprenticeship on the farm at this stage is one of creative design, bold ideas, and unique vision as the project continues to evolve and transform. You will be challenged, you will be asked to work hard, and you will be part of something truly unique.

“Its hardship is its possibility.” (Wendell Berry, the Vision)

Our role in this style of apprenticeship is more hands-on, learning by doing, with less emphasis on formalized teaching. Yes there will be learning, but it is more through the practice of participation. We are still and always will be guides and mentors in this permaculture off-grid adventure in the woods; however, this season will be more directed towards on the ground learning and setting ourselves to the task of project completion, growing food, and creating an economy that will support this place for many years to come.

We are also changing the focus of the program to be more of an artisan collective, with opportunities to learn and create with the raw materials available here at Twisted Roots Farm. Maybe you're someone interested in creating unique wood creations from trees ecologically harvested and milled on-site, or you have an interest in making wood-fired bread in a cob oven that you have designed and created, selling fresh sourdough bread directly from our farm stand with flour from locally sourced grains. You may also be someone who can offer a specific service, like teaching bushcraft skills to others or hosting yoga with goats. There are a variety of raw materials available from the farm with endless possibilities with the right inspiration and vision.

Apprenticeship Timeframe

What we are offering for this season is a 12 week apprenticeship, with the opportunity to extend. We are looking for two apprentices for the 2022 season and are flexible on the start dates, with preference given to those who can start as soon as possible.

How the Apprenticeship Works

Running and operating a mixed farm is a complicated business. There are many variables and unexpected outcomes. It requires much work and even more dedication.

~ It is not for the faint of heart ~

When you arrive you will be immersed in something that is very different from your everyday life. The first month will be a time of arrival where you become familiar with this new environment and settle into daily work that can be demanding and physical. This is farming. It is also rewarding, to know a hard day's work, to sleep well, and to work within the context of a community. It creates an appreciation for hard work and gratitude for what is truly important in our lives.

During this first month you will be on a steep learning curve; learning all of the animal and garden systems, problem solving, and community communication in addition to the adjustments of living off-grid, with minimal technology and very rustic and simplistic systems. All of the newness is exciting at first; however, there are also the routines that must be completed everyday with animals and gardens alike. You will learn how to feed and water animals, how to care for them, and how to observe their behaviours to know when something needs tending to. It can feel monotonous and repetitive at times, again, welcome to farming. In this first month, you have to develop a practice of being mindful with the everyday routines, they are the foundation of the farm and it is where you will be spending a great deal of time. We depend on the help of apprentices and volunteers to engage in this work, and there are many lessons to be gained from this way of life.

~ Anything we ask of you, we too have experienced ~

In the second month, you will be expected to know the systems and be able to work the routines with minimal supervision. In this second month, your responsibilities will increase and we will help guide you in the supervision of other volunteers who will be participating in the project throughout your time at the farm. We will also be asking for more project participation, and encourage you to take on independent projects that are of interest to you and benefit the farm.

Your interaction with the public will also increase in this second month. We have a self-serve farm stand on-site where we sell our own offerings as well as those of other local growers, producers, and artists. Apprentices need to be comfortable interacting with the local community as there will be increased responsibility with the farm stand as well as daily interactions with the public.

By the third and final month you will be stepping into the role of leader on the farm with volunteers. You will know the systems (animal, garden, daily living) and will be able to explain and teach others about life here on the farm.

During this time of work, learning, and interacting with others, you will also explore the land that surrounds the farm. We encourage you to engage in what we call nature-based dialogue on a daily basis. Walk the land, sit with the land, get to know her, engage in conversations with her. It is a core part of your process here. In your third month, we invite you to spend a night or two in solitude out on the land; a reflective process that helps to show you all of the work (inner and outer) that you have completed during your time with the farm. We help to debrief this time with you and highlight some of the growth that you have experienced from your journey. In preparation for your solo time, we will cover outdoor and wilderness basics. We will also include other bushcraft skills as a way to explore and develop outdoor skills. These include firebuilding, shelter, outdoor cooking, and wilderness travel.

Your relationship with the wild community will also deepen, and the reflections offered to you during your solo time with the land will be an opportunity to incorporate them more fully into your life.

Another key component of the apprenticeship is community building and learning from our local residents. During your apprenticeship, we will be connecting with local homesteaders, farmers, and neighbours who will share some of their knowledge in exchange for our time and energy. We live in a small community and this is a great way for us to learn and share with others who support the farm and this project in so many ways.

The new component to the apprenticeship program is the development of an artisan craft or service during your apprenticeship that will help to create an economy for yourself during your time with Twisted Roots Farm. We will provide the raw materials, show you how to use basic tools, and market your craft. In exchange, you will learn new skills or further develop your skills as well as receive revenue from the sale of the items you create which will be sold through Twisted Roots Farm. The partnership over the 12 weeks is a percentage of the profits from an item or service that you are offering. The share of the profit is 50% for Twisted Roots Farm and 50% for you as the craft person making the item once the item has sold or the service has been completed. This will provide you with a platform to develop your craft or service with mentorship and resources from the farm as well as an income to help support your gifts and offerings. Any of these projects will be one outside of your regular farm hours and responsibilities.

Once the 12 week apprenticeship has been completed, opportunities will exist to stay on and continue to offer your artisan offerings with the hope of creating a supportive economy for yourself. We will work with you to come up with a fair and equitable exchange for an extended period of time with the vision of creating a formal cooperative with more ability for profit sharing.

Projects for 2022

Over the last five years of development, we have been building much infrastructure and experimenting with different forms and systems of livestock. For 2022, we are scaling back our livestock systems with more expansion of our market garden. The following is a breakdown of the projects that we have slated for 2022:

Permaculture Design

The farm is designed on permaculture methodology and with the expansion of our market garden areas, we are starting to design plant guilds in an effort to create more food forest gardening. Our focus is on creating more food forest communities in the areas that have been cleared. We will also continue to add to our permaculture plan for the site and complete more mapping and future projects.

Livestock and Animal Systems

Chickens, goats, pigs, and ducks comprise our animal systems for 2022. We will be establishing more forage areas for chickens and goats, utilizing the pigs to create more pasture, and working towards closed loop food systems. These beings play a crucial role in our farm, both for the clearing of land and fertilizing the soil.

Market Gardens

  • Expanding the market garden area with many additional beds and high tunnels
  • Extend the growing season to include four season harvest capabilities

Building Projects

  • Completing a live roof on the farm house
  • Chicken tractors
  • Wooden frame high tunnels
  • Cold frames/raised beds
  • Winter chicken coop
  • Solar dehydrator
  • Wooden products (ie. cutting boards, hanging baskets)
  • Bath house including sauna

Forestry Projects

  • Milling wood for building projects
  • Milling wood for secondary wood products
  • Designing and building secondary wood products

Other Projects

  • Building an experimental biomass heater based on the work and design of Jean Pain and additional experimentation by Ben Falk
  • Completing a feasibility study on the potential of building a micro hydro system on the brook
  • Development of pond systems

The Exchange

In exchange for your energy, we offer accommodation, meals, experiential learning opportunities, mentorship, and a $150 stipend per week.

We will work with you one-on-one, help guide your time on the farm, and reflect important experiences. This is an immersion program, experiential in nature, and our classroom is the land and farm that surrounds us.

We expect apprentices to work 30-40 hours per week. As an apprentice, you will truly experience what it takes to work and run a mixed permaculture farm, one that is in the growing pains of startup. We are looking for folks who understand this, and are not looking to establish set days off or a workday that starts at 9:00 and ends at 5:00. Farming does not work that way. You are apprenticing to experience what it takes to engage in this way of life, and that may mean you work a 12 hour day or you work 6 days in a row to ensure crops get to customers and that the farm is being supported by a resilient economy.

That said, we do not want to burn out apprentices or ourselves. We take a community-based, project orientated approach. We work until the work is done and we support each other to take down time. There is no set schedule or cookie cutter approach to this and what it comes down to is communication and what is and what isn’t possible within our community. This includes ourselves, volunteers, apprentices and other willing hands who may be offering to help.

Our communication process is a core part of how we operate here on the farm. We start each day with a check-in, a talking circle where we can put issues on the table, discuss how we are feeling, and give indications on how to support each other. If larger community issues need to be discussed, we set time for that in a more formalized talking circle format. Each morning, everyone is involved and engaged in planning for the day and we assign tasks based on our morning check-in and what needs to be done on the farm. This process enables us to set intentions, become attuned as a collective, and create goals for the day.

As an apprentice, we are also here to listen and work with you. We understand the pressures and inner voices that can start to surface when faced with hard work, community relationships, stress, and a way of life that is foreign to most. Only through conversation, understanding, claiming what is ours, and navigating emotions can we grow from difficult experiences. Life on a farm can feel like a pressure cooker; however, knowing that we can face hardship and adversity takes us to places of strength and insight that we may not have otherwise realized. We also have to create opportunities for laughter, fun, and celebration, all a part of life and truly living.

Accommodation

Accommodation for apprentices consists of a shared small cabin near the brook in the forest. This cabin is set up for sleeping only. All cooking is done in a space lovingly referred to as the Fox Den, which is an addition we built on our travel trailer. This space serves as a communal kitchen/dining area. There is also a wood stove in this space.

There are composting toilets available for your use, which are the shared responsibility of the volunteers and apprentices to empty, clean, and maintain. This is just one of the many opportunities to fully immerse yourself in off-grid living!

As we do not have running water available yet for our shower facilities, hauling and heating up water for a hot bucket shower is how we roll. Think simple, clean, and rustic! The shower is set in the forest, a pretty sweet spot to bathe! All of our volunteers over the past few years have been pleasantly surprised at how far a bucket of water can go and just how refreshing it actually is. Apprentices will be required to haul their own water for showering, cooking, and cleaning, all a part of the experience which we did for the first 6 months of our time here.

Meals

Meals will be shared and cooked by everyone with communal help with clean-up. All meals will be cooked in the Fox Den. We do not provide snacks and if you require certain additional food items other than what we serve at meal times, you will need to provide those for yourself. Since meals are prepared communally, we are not able to cater to specific food requirements or allergies. We believe in a localized diet and therefore, we eat meat, either our own chicken, pork or duck, or meat purchased from other local, ethically raised sources as we increase our own supply.

We also cook with lard rendered from our own pigs, so we are unable to cater to strict vegetarians. We honor these beings who feed us through our deep gratitude for their lives and the integral role that they have in creating a natural, healthy ecosystem. Our meals consist of simple, home cooked, whole foods made mostly from scratch, using as much of our own produce as possible. This means that we focus on eating what is in season as best we can. Since localized, healthy food is extremely important to us, we look forward to sharing this passion and skill set with our volunteers.

What to Expect During Your Stay

Summers here can be humid and there are bugs from May - August. We suggest you bring a bug net for your head/upper body and light coloured, loose clothing. Rubber boots, work gloves, and a sun hat are also handy items to have around the farm. We will include a detailed list of items to bring if you are selected for the program.

Due to extreme allergies and a care of this land, we are a non-smoking, scent-free farm. Please do not bring any products that contain fragrance/perfume, including shampoo/conditioner, soap, hair products, bug repellent, lotions, sunscreen, deodorant, makeup, etc. You would be amazed that the majority of products we put on our bodies actually contain fragrance. This is a non-negotiable, so please do your homework and read the ingredients list on any product you may want to bring to the farm. If you are in doubt, we are happy to discuss this further.

As we practice organic farming methods, we also do not allow the use of bug sprays/repellents with deet in them. If you need ideas on what products would be suitable, please feel free to ask.

We have a wonderful screened porch (aka sanctuary) beside the brook, which is where we will often be found when in need of a cool dip and a buggy reprieve. Our property is also only a short drive/bike ride to a variety of local beaches, many of which have incredible white sand with barely any other visitors...they are truly heaven!

Digital Detox

During your stay you will experience a digital detox. We do not provide internet access (it is too slow and costly) and cell service on the property is limited. Cell service is available a short 5 minute walk up the road, and if you require internet access, the community center in Judique has free access which is a 45 minute walk, 15 minute bike ride, or 5 minute drive away. Think of this as an opportunity to limit your screen time and embrace the wildness that surrounds you here on the farm.

Drug and Alcohol Policy

Twisted Roots Farm is a community-oriented space, offering many formats for programming, workshops, learning, and living. Recognizing the variety of people who will be visiting, volunteering, and living at Twisted Roots Farm, we require policy regarding the use of tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis, which is now legal in Canada. Twisted Roots Farm does not encourage or promote the use of these substances.

Smoking (tobacco and cannabis) and the use of illegal drugs are not permitted on Twisted Roots Farm property. Alcohol and cannabis use (excluding the smoking of cannabis) is permitted on-site only after work hours in designated areas. It is not permitted during working hours and will be grounds for immediate dismissal.

There may also be periods of time that we do not allow the use of alcohol or cannabis on the property and ask that those living on-site or visiting Twisted Roots Farm practice abstinence during specific programs, workshops, and or retreats to create a safe space to hold the essence of what is being offered. Notice will be given to those living on-site and visitors will be informed as required and through signage before entering property grounds.

How to Apply

Saying “yes” to a seasonal apprenticeship on a farm is a huge commitment for apprentices and farmers alike. We highly recommend that you familiarize yourself with our social media, blog, and website to ensure that the farm feels like a fit for you. We enjoy writing and our material can be lengthy; however, we also feel that it is informative and will give you a better understanding of our philosophical approach.

To apply to the apprenticeship program, please send us a copy of your current resume with three references and a letter outlining why you would like to apprentice with Twisted Roots Farm for the 2022 season. Let us know your preferred start date, but again, preference will be given to those who are a fit and who are available to start soon.

info@twistedrootsfarm.ca

We would also like to know what craft or offering you would like to pursue while here.

If you are applying as a couple, please include your own personal letter, just indicate that you are applying as a couple.

We will only interview those we feel are a fit for the program.

Applicants must be 19 years of age to apply.

We also require that successful applicants have a Standard First Aid Course, which is necessary if you are to step into any farm management or supervisory roles here at Twisted Roots Farm.

Please contact us with any questions, preferably by email: info@twistedrootsfarm.ca

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Current status: Open/apply now.   Date posted: Jun 2 2022    ID: 64671