Connect with host farmers and apprentices via Apprentice Enrichment!
What is an Apprentice Enrichment Program?
Whereas SOIL is a Canada-wide program, the Apprentice Enrichment Program targets farms within a local area (for example, lower Vancouver Island) that agree to host workshops for SOIL apprentices participating in the Enrichment Program. Apprentices from the determined geographic area meet once a month throughout the growing season at a different farm for a hands-on workshop on a given topic. Workshop days consist of a two-to-three-hour hands-on workshop, a potluck meal, and a two or three hour work party at the host farm. Workshops demonstrate different themes within farming. Examples of past workshops include working with tomatoes; buying, leasing, or sharing a farm; record-keeping; and composting.
Why should you develop an Enrichment program for your area?
An Apprentice Enrichment Program is added to enrich the on farm apprenticeship model. It has advantages for both farmers and apprentices that participate in SOIL. Farms who decide to participate in the program stand to gain apprentices by becoming more attractive potential hosts to SOIL applicants. One reason applicants give for choosing one farm over another is that the farm is connected to the larger farming community and offers a rich learning opportunity. The SOIL Enrichment Program allows apprentices to become involved in their local community, to gain hands-on practical education in a field that may not be available on their host farm, and to be active in a social group of like-minded peers. Farms who decide to participate in the Enrichment Program also gain from the mandatory work parties that occur post-workshop.
How to set up an Enrichment program for the farms and apprentices in your geographical area?
Make a list of all the farms within a 2 hour drive who hosts apprentices, WWOOFers, or interns. You can get names of these farms from SOIL, WWOOF and other farmers in your area
Send an email, contact by phone, or mail each of the farms explaining the program and asking if they have apprentices or interns who would be interested in joining in. Also ask the farmer if he/she would be interested in giving hands on workshop/demonstration of a farm skill, i.e. animal husbandry, composting, etc.
Once you have three or more farms who are interested, put together a schedule of apprentice enrichment days that you will email to participating farmers and apprentices. Don’t be afraid to start with just a few enrichment days in the first year.