Apprenticeship Program

“Initiated men and women don’t chase what they desire, they marry what they follow and they raise up what they love”

Martin Prechtel

Apprenticeship Program

Apprenticeship Update
Our May intake for the Apprenticeship program is now full; however, in the event of any cancellations, we are still accepting applications for a waiting list for the May start date.

Our next intake date, which currently has space available, will be August 2020. Please review “How To Apply” for more details.

With regards to COVID-19 and the Apprenticeship program, we are continuing to move forward with the program while following all current protocols as set out by the federal and provincial governments of Canada. Our main focus for this season will be growing localized food to help support local communities and contribute to local food security. We require volunteer help to grow food and therefore, the Apprenticeship program is even more important now than ever before. Farming is considered an essential service as stated by the Nova Scotia Health Protection Act which means that we are taking the utmost care when bringing volunteers to the farm to help grow localized food.

Connecting others with the Wild, with their food, with the sacred art of life and death, and with the land that sustains us are reasons we have felt called to share this space with others. When we first arrived here, we envisioned that we would be homesteading with this place on a small scale, just the two of us. As time went on and the dream of this land revealed herself further to us, we realized that this is a gathering place. A space in which people are invited to be a part of something magical and full of life. This is why we have chosen to open this place up to others. Yes, you will learn to farm and to run a small business, yet at the core of it, what we offer is an opportunity to delve into the mysteries of your own soul and discover the golden threads that are woven deep within you.

We have included an in-depth description of the apprenticeship program as we want to ensure that applicants are aware of all aspects of the program as a way of understanding if it is a fit and worth exploring further. We thank you for your interest in our farm and apprenticeship program and are open to any questions or inquiries you may have.

Program Outline

Two-Week Trial Volunteer Period

The apprenticeship program at Twisted Roots Farm is divided into three parts. The first part is a two week trial volunteer period to ensure that the apprenticeship program is a good fit. During the volunteer period, we will conduct an orientation of the farm, including a review of farm policies. Prior to arrival, apprentices will receive a basic contract outlining the general policies of the farm, compensation information, and roles and responsibilities. This contract will be reviewed during the two week volunteer period and tailored to your specific areas of interest and goals for moving forward through the program. At the end of the two weeks, your role will transition from one of volunteer to steward.

Steward Phase

This second phase of the program is three months long and will be based on the contract that was created between the apprentice and Twisted Roots Farm during the volunteer period. During the course of your stay, stewards are given the information and time to learn the essential skills needed to access their true potential. As a steward, you will be asked to step outside of your comfort zone, into the delicious realm of the unknown. During this phase of the program, you will be responsible for a small farm project as well as participate in an off-farm community project.

Stewards will be introduced to the basics of running a small mixed farm business and the many products and services available from Twisted Roots Farm. We will also support you through career development and future planning. Throughout the program, we will review your contract and adjust it to remain current with your goals and interests. Prior to completing the three month apprenticeship program, you will be guided on a one-night solo on the land as a way to close the program and reflect on your time here. At this time, stewards may choose to continue onward for an additional three months in the wild tender phase of the apprenticeship program.

Wild Tender Phase

In this third part of the program, which is also three months long, wild tenders will be responsible for a larger farm project as well as taking on more of a role in an off-farm community project. There will also be an expectation that you are able to take further self initiative and greater responsibility. Wild tenders will also be provided additional in-depth learning opportunities regarding starting and running a small mixed farm business, operating a market garden and farmers market venue, production and marketing of products and services, and mentoring in the development of your own business concept or other career development plan.

Following the completion of the wild tender program, we will guide you through another solo as a way to celebrate the end of the program and to provide an opportunity to reflect upon your time here at the farm. This second solo will be of your own design, including length and intention. We feel that these opportunities to spend intimate time alone, with the land, are crucial to deepening our understanding of self and our role in the larger story of the world.

Learning Opportunities on the Farm

As we are a mixed farm, there is a diverse range of activities to be involved with.  Here is an outline of the aspects of the farm that stewards and wild tenders will experience:

  • planting and care of veggie starts
  • sowing and transplanting of crops
  • irrigation design and management
  • soil health and fertility
  • bed preparation
  • weed management
  • livestock care
  • livestock harvest and butchering
  • pasture management
  • crop harvest and packaging
  • direct marketing through farmers markets and on-site farm stand
  • permaculture planning
  • infrastructure design and building
  • maintenance
  • trail building
  • daily food prep and cleanup
  • bandsaw milling and handmade wood products
  • forestry management
  • agro tourism
  • conflict resolution, sociocracy, and way of council

Compensation

Apprentices will be asked to work approximately 30 – 40 hours/week in exchange for meals and accommodation and a $100/month reimbursement for personal expenses. There will also be a budget allocated to each apprentice for additional training as agreed upon between the apprentices and Twisted Roots Farm. Funding for this training may be put towards a variety of local workshops and educational opportunities aimed at furthering learning and career development. We believe in the value of a diverse learning experience, which is why we want to provide apprentices with a wide range of practitioners and their unique perspectives.

Accommodation options will vary depending on when apprentices arrive at the farm. We have a self-contained travel trailer, Foxy Lady, with a small wood stove that can house a couple or two friends willing to share a small space until additional accommodation is built. We will be designing and building a wall tent this spring, which will have single bedrooms and a shared living space with a wood stove.

Meals will be prepared and cleaned up by everyone on a rotating schedule. We will also be constructing a wall tent cook shack this spring, which will provide a meal prep and dining space for all volunteers and farm guests throughout the season. 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 and pork or other local, ethically raised sources as we increase our own supply.

We also cook with lard rendered from our pigs, so we are unable to cater to strict vegetarians. It is extremely important to us to be in relationship with our food, from birth to death, and we honor these beings 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, homecooked, 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. We enjoy sharing our love of localized food with others and welcome other creative minds in the kitchen.

We use composting toilets on the farm, based on the Humanure Handbook. These facilities will be the shared responsibility of all volunteers and apprentices to manage and keep clean. Please remember that we are off-grid and live simply, always doing our best to be in relationship with the land and therefore, live as low-impact as possible.

As we do not have running water available yet for our accommodations, shower facilities include a hot bucket shower. Think simple, clean, and rustic! All of our volunteers over the past two 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 and heat up their own water for showering, all a part of the experience that we know well.

Roles and Responsibilities

During your time at Twisted Roots Farm, we will provide you with many different learning opportunities, such as working with us in a hands-on way, discussions on various theories, holding council together as a practice of sharing and listening, and providing suggested reading material that we have found exceptionally valuable. There are so many different things to learn and experiment with here on the farm that you will be able to get your hands dirty with something that you feel easily drawn to, as well as by pushing your limits to try something that you never thought you could do before!

The work is both extremely rewarding and challenging, therefore, we have continual check-ins through daily meetings and council circles. There will be long, hot, humid, buggy days where you may feel pushed beyond what you thought you could do, yet we will all be in it together, working as a community until the job is done. We work hard, yet we also love to have a good time throughout all of the sweat and tears. There will be a variety of different seasonal projects to participate in, which will provide many valuable learning opportunities. And there are always farm routines, such as animal care, that will need to be tended to on a daily basis with each apprentice being asked to take on more responsibility over time, including management of specific areas.

Along with the management of a small project and community project involvement, stewards will be expected to work towards leading and guiding the casual volunteers as well as managing a rotating schedule of farm routines. Wild tenders will be asked to manage a larger project with increased off-farm community involvement, as well as overseeing both the casual volunteers and stewards. Naturally, the responsibilities expected from apprentices will grow as the program progresses, which we believe brings with it unique opportunities for learning and growth as well as a high level of personal accomplishment.

Apprentices will be supported throughout the apprenticeship program and well into the future. We will be right beside you as you explore the journey of farming and caring for the many lives here on the farm. We are so very grateful for all of the support and guidance that we have received, and continue to receive, throughout our journey in farming and feel privileged to be able to carry that support forward to others. We have had our fair share of brilliant failures and magnificent successes, and it is only through supporting one another in a safe, playful, open way that we are able to explore these rich experiences as a way of deeply rooting ourselves with life.

Desired Qualities

  • The ideal apprentices will be passionate, self-motivated, and physically fit.
  • You will be creative and innovative and willing to explore new systems and practices that are unique to this place, as we are a newly formed farm.
  • A sincere interest in personal growth and self reflection are key.
  • You will have the ability to work as part of a group as well as maintain focus and motivation in self supervised work.
  • And although we don’t need you to be as strong as an ox, you will need to be able to lift at least 50 pounds and handle challenges like bugs, humidity, and hard work.
  • It would be preferable that you have a current emergency first aid certificate, but if not, we will allocate a portion of your training budget to the completion of this certificate.
  • We do not expect that you have gardening/farming experience, yet you must be open to learning and willing to work in all kinds of weather.
  • This experience will test you and we hope, broaden your scope and provide you with a deep appreciation of life and a true knowing of self.

Individualized Learning Plan/Contract

The apprenticeship program is a unique educational opportunity that offers a diverse array of learning outcomes. We work with you to develop a creative plan that helps guide your time at the farm and is supportive of your individual needs. This is an organic document that may ebb and flow as you move through the program, with change being a welcome adviser to your experience.

Monthly Reviews

During your time here on the farm, we will work with you to provide valuable feedback in relationship with your individualized learning plan, keeping everyone on track and helping define areas of growth. Monthly reviews provide valuable feedback to us as mentors, helping shape the program and create a community of learning. Reviews are completed monthly at a minimum; however, there will also be weekly check-ins with apprentices to ensure a supportive learning environment.

Skill Development ~ Life Path ~ Soul Dance

The apprenticeship program offers many opportunities to learn about farming and permaculture, which will provide a solid foundation for those wishing to start their own farming venture. However, this is not our main goal in designing and offering this program. More importantly, we view the apprenticeship program as an opportunity to delve into personal growth and skill development. Your time here at Twisted Roots Farm will challenge you and take you out of your day-to-day comforts, revealing strengths you may not have seen, felt, or acknowledged in your life.

Your stay here is also about connection to the Wild community – the forest and all of the life forms that call this place home. The apprenticeship program is yours to design, with the farm and forest acting as the container to explore these unseen parts of self that are waiting to be discovered. Along the way, apprentices will learn a variety of skills that can be applied to future endeavors and pursuits in life. This experience, combined with specific training and workshops, will help you set the stage for your next life step beyond the apprenticeship program.

Ongoing Mentoring

When your time comes to a close here on the farm, we offer continued mentoring and support. In the first months after leaving the program, we will connect with you for mentoring sessions as defined in your exit plan. Our doors are always open and visits back to the farm are most welcomed.

Communication and Conflict Resolution

Living and working in a community is a rewarding and meaningful experience. Our work here on the farm requires long days with many challenges; therefore, healthy communication is the foundation on which we must make decisions and be in a relationship with one another. Our communication style here at Twisted Roots Farm is in the form of daily check-ins and holding regular talking circles (Way of Council), which provides a space to uncover the heart of the matter on an interpersonal level. We listen and learn to speak to our needs in a healthy and respectful way.

We also use this format of communication to resolve conflict. We encourage apprentices to work out conflict as a group and individually and through our daily check-ins, continue to work towards resolution. If there is a major issue or conflict in the community, a council will be held as soon as possible to address the issue.

Our process of decision making here at Twisted Roots Farm is based on the principles of Sociocracy, also known as Dynamic Governance. Sociocracy is a whole systems approach to designing and leading organizations. It is based on principles, methods, and a structure that creates a resilient and coherent system. It relies on transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability to increase harmony, effectiveness, and productivity in groups.

We are a new farm and organization that is being built from the ground up. Those who are interested in such a venture will be part of building these foundational elements of communication to create a collectively designed permaculture farm that is evolving with the skills and gifts of those wishing to be part of such a unique project.

Daily Practices

During your time here at Twisted Roots Farm, we encourage you to engage in a daily practice of connection. Practices are individual and can range from yoga to meditation to daily early morning walks in the forest. The intention is to connect with self and place before starting your day on the farm. Living for an extended period of time removed from city landscapes and technology is a powerful experience and a practice of connection can help offer a new perspective in one’s life.

Nature-Based Practices

Twisted Roots Farm is a farm in the forest, which offers many opportunities for nature-based activities. During your time here, you will be asked to participate in a variety of nature-based interactions to help deepen connection to place. One such activity that we encourage is to find a sit-spot. A sit-spot is a place in the forest that you visit daily as a way to acknowledge and come into relationship with the life that exists there and the creatures that call this place home. The forest provides a space by which our very nature is reflected back to us and we are able to experience connection with all of life. Some of the exercises and practices that we use to deepen our relationship with the Wild community have been developed by the Animas Valley Institute and the Wilderness Awareness School.

Other practices that you will learn include more hands-on bushcraft skills such as fire building, primitive shelters, wildcrafting, and other nature oriented skills. These practices help to establish a more intimate relationship with the Wild community and test our abilities in self reliance.

We also ask that apprentices participate in a one night guided solo on the land at the completion of the steward phase to reflect and integrate your experience at Twisted Roots Farm. During this guided process, you will spend 24 hours alone on the land, returning to the community that has been your home for three months with a story for all to witness.

For those who complete the wild tender program, we also ask that you spend solo time on the land in a significant and meaningful way at the end of your six month stay. We will work with you to define this extended solo time as part of your individual learning plan.

Readings and Study

All apprentices are given written learning materials throughout their apprenticeship. These materials include crop plans, planting schedules, budgets, overall farm plans, permaculture methods, and various other supporting materials. In addition, there is a small lending library from which apprentices are welcome to borrow books.

As part of the apprentice program, you will receive two books that are required reading: “The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic: The Parallel Lives of People as Plants: Keeping the Seeds Alive” by Martin Prechtel and “Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche” by Bill Plotkin. Both of these books provide a framework for discussion and exploration of ideas in sacred agriculture and nature-based work and have deeply influenced our lives.

Opportunities for Longer Stays

Although the apprenticeship program is three to six months in duration, we are also open to extending the stays of apprentices who are interested in continuing their studies and immersing themselves even deeper in this farming project. As time goes on, the farm will continue to evolve, especially in these first years of growth and development. It is the long term vision of Twisted Roots Farm that this project continues beyond our lifetimes; therefore, it is our intention to create a Farming Cooperative that is worker owned and operated. A minimum requirement in selecting potential members for a Farming Cooperative would be the completion of the six month apprenticeship program.

Required and Suggested Items

The farm provides the tools and safety gear required for daily work. Apprentices are responsible for having steel toe footwear. If cost is a limiting factor for you, we suggest having a pair of steel toe rubber boots, as they can be worn for both farm tasks and construction projects. However, if your budget allows it, we highly recommend having the required pair of steel toe work boots along with a pair of rubber boots. We also require apprentices to have a watch as there will be specific tasks and activities that require you to track the time; we will not be your personal time-keepers.

It is suggested to carry a small notepad, a pen, and a pocket knife as well. Other highly recommended items include: rain pants, rain jacket, sun hat, loose light coloured long sleeve shirts and pants (helps with bugs and heat), overalls or coveralls, work gloves, bug net (for your head), water bottle, flashlight/headlamp with spare batteries, scent-free soap/shampoo, swimsuit, and towel.

General Farm Policies

Safety Policies ~ We follow all of the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety regulations. An in-depth review of all farm equipment and safety policies will be covered during the two week orientation. Every apprentice will be trained in the safe use and maintenance of all farm tools and equipment. All apprentices are required to follow safety policies at all times. Failure to do so will result in immediate dismissal.

Fragrance-Free ~ Due to extreme allergies and a care of this land, we are a fragrance-free farm. Please do not bring/wear any products that contain fragrance/perfume, including laundry detergent, shampoo/conditioner, soap, hair products, bug repellent, lotions, sunscreen, deodorant, makeup, etc. As we practice organic farming methods, we also do not allow the use of bug sprays/repellents with deet in them and can provide you with a safe alternative. If you need ideas on what products would be suitable, please feel free to ask.

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.

Farm Vehicles ~ Apprentices are trained in the safe use of farm vehicles and are fully covered by insurance for their operation. Farm vehicles are to be used only for farm business without any exceptions. Farm vehicles may not be driven by anyone who is not an employee or apprentice at Twisted Roots Farm without any exceptions. Preference will be given to applicants with a valid driver’s license.

Diversity and Inclusion ~ We are committed to a safe, inclusive, and equitable learning and working environment.

Pets ~ As we have dogs and cats of our own, as well as a variety of free-ranging feathery friends, we do not allow other pets on the farm.

How to Apply

Feeding people and farming in deep relationship with the land is a mighty task and one that requires a village to fully cultivate. We welcome you to come and be a part of this exciting endeavor!

In your application email, please tell us your story and why you want to participate in the apprenticeship program. Also include your resume and as well as your preferred length of program (3-month or 6-month) and your ideal start date.

Your application can be sent to info@twistedrootsfarm.ca with the title “2020 Apprenticeship”. We will respond to all emails and will conduct an interview with qualified candidates over the phone or Skype.

Requirements

  • All applicants must be at least 19 years of age
  • You are required to have steel toe rubber boots or work boots
  • A clean Criminal Record Check for the Vulnerable Sector

Resources and Mentors Who Inspire Us

Sacred Farming / Wild Tending

Martin Prechtel
Author of: “The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic: The Parallel Lives of People as Plants: Keeping the Seeds Alive.” Martin also has many other books available that have greatly inspired our work; however, “The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic” is a manifesto for sacred farming and our relationship with the Wild community. His work is woven deeply into the fabric of the vision of Twisted Roots Farm.

Nature Awareness

Wilderness Awareness School ~ is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1983 and an internationally-recognized leader in outdoor education. Their mission is to help children and adults cultivate healthy relationships with nature, community and self.

Nature / Soul Development

Annie Bloom and Niles Hagemann ~ Buffalo Dreaming Lodge
“A place with a central hearth for gathering around to tell our stories and weave the personal with the mythological and bring to life the sleeping giants inside of us ~ the big stories that intertwine our personal dreaming with the dreaming of the earth.” Annie and Niles continue to be mentors and elders for us on this journey.

Animas Valley Institute ~ We have both completed a large body of work with the Animas Valley Institute and resonate deeply with Bill Plotkin’s work

Other Inspiring Writers and Poets

Permaculture / Organic Farming / Sacred Farming / Homesteading

Communication and Community Development

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