Beginning of May to end of October 2018
Schomberg, Ontario (just 20 mins north of Vaughan)
The Apprentice Program is a full time ecological farm experience where you will learn what it takes to build and run an ecological farm. Apprentices receive accommodations, and learn how to grow organic plants, how to work with farm animals, building, organizing, and marketing activities that are essential to managing an ecological farm.
This hands-on learning program includes a holistic approach to starting a farm, and incorporates learning into daily practice. Interns will be primarily working with Antonio Gomes (Owner/Operator Cavaleiro Farm) but will also have the opportunity to work with other Cavaleiro Farm Enterprise Members. This is our first year as part of the CRAFT network, http://craftsouthwestontario.ca/,, and interns will take part in six CRAFT DAY field trips to other organic farms in Ontario.
This year, we are focusing on local food enterprises, and fostering a good environment for building those enterprises. As such, interns can use the farm resources (books, business development tools, monthly member meet-ups, and weekly project sharing) to start growing their own local food business. Outside of the apprenticeship work, interns can use the services on the farm to build and run a local food enterprise. Our farm’s membership model offers a flexible exchange system that allows interns to pay or exchange their time for the services used on the farm.
We are a 65 acre, organic farm with rolling hills that creates a dynamic landscape for growing food and community; from the forests where we grow mushrooms and get fuel, to the ponds that attract swans and provide us with water. The farm is filled with life throughout the year, from farming activities to member events. We are located in Schomberg which is 20 minutes north of Vaughan and Brampton, giving our rural space a unique proximity to these urban centers.
Our goal is to produce year-round food for our community. We have worked towards that strategy by planting vegetables, shrubs, tree and other perennials. We have chickens, ducks, pigs, sheep and a donkey, two dogs, and a cat that all work daily on the farm. Everyone has their place, and we try to improve the relationships between everything here, including the animals, nature, and people.
Farm life is very dynamic. The weather changes daily and sometimes things don’t work out like we plan. It can be a great opportunity to learn how to adapt to the unexpected! An ideal candidate is someone who is excited to learn and comes with their own goals and interests. Many of the experiences will be new, so it’s important to have an open mind and be willing to try things that are outside of the norml. Cavaleiro Farm is a community of leaders that support each other in learning and development. As part of the community, an ideal candidate will have empathy for other farm members, the animals, and the rest of the ecosystem. We are looking for an intern that demonstrates a strong interest in starting a farm or local food business.
Why We Grow
We love farming, culture, and nature. We want to see more ecological farms connected to communities, because we think it’s one of the most important things we can do. As members, we all share a passion for real food, cooking, and sharing culture. If we don’t champion these values ourselves, then who can we expect to do it for us? It sounds like a big responsibility, but we find it very liberating and empowering to pursue our shared goals. We know we are making the world better with our farm. Our farm and community is healthy and vibrant. We are rebuilding soil, storing more water, increasing diversity, sequestering carbon and developing our permaculture.
Who we are?
I am Antonio Gomes and I run Cavaleiro Farm. My parents Dina and Jose helped me start the farm four years ago, and brought their experience from growing up on a subsistence farm in the mountains of Portugal. They now run three restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area called the Red Rooster. Janice, Ivan, Nivaldo and Saqib are core members of the farm who run their own local food businesses on the farm. Together, we have been raising this farm back to a life-giving farm, following its short retirement after the previous farming family moved out.
I was born in Toronto and never thought I would end up living on a farm. Eight years ago, while visiting my uncle Manual, a tree nut farmer in Portugal, I was struck with questions about food. ‘Is this where our food comes from? Why does our food have to ruin the environment and rural communities? This doesn’t make sense! These questions started my adventure in local food. I started growing food in the city, working within the Urban Agriculture community, and eventually completed a Masters of Environmental Studies at York University. From Fresh City Farms to Maloca Garden, Black Creek Community Farm, and organizing with Near Urban Agricultural Action Group to be on the steering committee for the Local Organic Food Cooperative Network, I have been very fortunate to learn from such a great community. Now, I want to give back by providing this internship opportunity to someone else who has their own interest and passion in local food.
In 2014, things lined up. We started Cavaleiro Farm, named after my father’s family, to continue our family’s tradition of managing farmland; we come from Portugal, where 5,000 year old shepherd huts are still in use near my parents’ villages.
Food growing and member services are the two prongs to our farm business, creating the business’ foundation as we continue expanding our operation. An intern can expect to be involved in both aspects, as they work on food growing, member engagement, and farm design and building. Our approach is to focus on building the relationships and connections that we can use to grow organically.
What is unique to our experience?
Myself and the other Cavaleiro Farm members are very urban. We all grew up in the city and started with urban farming. As such, we enjoy making and keeping the urban connections. We have a food scraps program in collaboration with Toronto restaurants, we reclaim wood from the city, and have various urban visitors throughout the season. We are a very horizontal group with opportunities to learn together and run a business together.
Our farm has limited accommodations, so we can accept 1 to 2 interns depending on the arrangement. We spend most of our time outside. Most members camp out in tents overnight, cook and hang out in the outdoor kitchen, and use the compost toilet that we move occasionally and plant a tree. We also have a 600 square foot trailer, which has a kitchen, bathroom, and one private room. The trailer is comfortable and has four beds; however, it may be tight for two people to use over the long season, and residents may prefer to camp outside instead. May to October is a great time, weather-wise, to enjoy sleeping in the outdoors, and there’s nothing like falling asleep to the gentle sounds of nature. Our two dogs keep everyone — both farm members and animals — safe at night!
1) We can accept 2 interns that are a couple who don’t mind sharing the private space.
2) We can accept 1 intern who takes the bedroom in the trailer. The common space in the trailer can be shared with a 2nd intern. The 2nd intern would be willing to camp outdoors. We will provide the intern with a super comfortable hammock tent. We really like being outdoors at the farm; our record is a member who spent five months sleeping outside. When you spend a few nights under the stars, watching the fireflies, and listening to the frogs, you won’t want to sleep inside 🙂
We have a refrigerator and good wifi on site. The closest town (Schomberg) has a laundromat, supermarket, liquor store, and other amenities. A 20-minute bike ride will get you there, or I can provide you a ride depending on my schedule/during free time in my schedule. Interns are expected to keep the trailer clean and tidy. There is a weekly chores list shared by members to keep the farm in nice shape.
- We start when the sun comes up. The timing of the sunrise changes throughout the season, but we all like to start early so we can finish early. We work together in the morning for a few hours before breaking up to do other farm tasks, if needed. (Total of 4 hours minimum of work in the morning.)
- We learned from other parts of the world that take afternoon siestas and enjoy the long afternoon lunches. Once a week, we cook together and then spend an hour discussing each others’ projects. Most lunch breaks you can spend them doing what you will.
- In the afternoon, we get back into the work tasks and finish the day by preparing for the next day. (Total of 4 hours minimum of work in the afternoon.)
- Interns are expected to work Tuesday to Saturday most weeks. We might have to adjust something in the odd week, but in general the work schedule is 5 days on, 2 days off.
- Interns are expected to have the right clothing, and their own food/drinks with them in the field that can sustain them throughout the workday.
- As part of the reality of farming with animals (i.e. they need attention every day), interns will also take on one weekend shift per month. This includes letting animals out and checking their water.
- The above is the minimum amount of hours we expect from the intern. Weather permitting, I am regularly active from sun-up to sundown. I have the farmer genes, filled with passion and love for farming, so sometimes I am sad when the sun goes down. Interns can work alongside me throughout the day, if they like; however, recognizing that it takes time to get to that level, we expect 8 solid hours of work per day. It’s important not to push yourself and risk personal injury; you need to be sharp while farming.
- We have on-farm Member Days once a month, which the intern would be invited to join. These usually take place on Sundays and are about 4 hours long. We usually have a planned theme for the day, a potluck lunch, training activities, and peer-to-peer project work.
Sick Days and Vacation
- Interns may take off five, pre-booked vacation days.
- Personal appointments should be booked off work hours or on day offs. We will do our best to accommodate if more flexibility is needed.
- Sick days are taken as needed.
Expect to get all the vegetables you can eat, as soon as the harvest is ready! We grow kale, swiss chard, onions, squashes, zucchini, garlic, and more, in our organic vegetable garden. We also provide eggs laid by our chickens and ducks. At times, we may have some meat from our chickens, pigs and lambs. We do one big pot (potluck) cook together each week. You are responsible for all of your other meals. Cooking can be done in our outdoor kitchen or in the trailer. Trips to the supermarket in town can be arranged.
We provide interns with a CSA veggie share, housing, business development tools, Member Days and a $400/month stipend.
Visitors are welcome on the farm if visits are planned in advance and set in the calendar. Interns can make arrangements with Antonio if they would like to have a guest visit the farm. We have a training for bringing visitors to ensure they respect the farm community and have a good visit. It’s best to schedule visitors during off-work times, so you have more time to spend with them.
We will train you in all of our equipment and processes, as needed. When we work together, we learn together in the field, often referencing another farm, book, or Netflix food documentary. We have an extensive library on food, farming, organizing, popular education, permaculture.
Farming is very challenging, both physically and mentally. Our expectation is that you show up ready, try your hardest, communicate, and most importantly be open to learning. If you can do that through a whole season, it will be an incredibly rewarding experience. At the end of the program, you should be well on your way to starting your own ecological farm or maybe next season you’ll want to come back to continue growing your local food business at Cavaleiro Farm.
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