Apprenticeship Programme

Ecovillage Apprentices

Alpaca/Llama Husbandry experience
April 15-June 1st

Organic Vegetable Market Gardens experience
May 1- Nov. 1st

Kakwa Ecovillage Cooperative, Dome Creek, British Columbia

Alpaca/Llama Husbandry :

Nutrition and basic health maintenance will be experienced with discussion and hands on care of our small herd of alpacas. Teeth, nails, worming, and wound dressing/medication will be covered. Shearing techniques, tools, sharpening will be presented. The opportunity for practice will be offered to those that are quick studies. It is expected that the entire herd will be shorn by June 1 st . Sorting, bagging, and preparation for shipment will be ongoing tasks. Current products, as well as the current marketing efforts will be reviewed. Field trips to the local Farmer’s Market http://www.farmersmarketpg.ca/ and 1-2 additional alpaca operations are planned. And, of course there will be lots of time to hang-out with these very curious and graceful creatures…

Organic Vegetable Market Gardens:

New garden extension, soil preparation, fencing, planting templates, spacing, mounding, irrigation/watering, trellis/supports, weed control, staggered planting/harvest, packaging preparation, and shipping describes the myriad tasks that will be encountered engaging in the organic garden programme. Seed selection and sources will be discussed as well as the paperwork aspects of organic certification and requirements of wholesale purchasers.

Food preservation techniques will be shared: air dry, blanching, saw dust, root cellar, fermentation, etc. There will also be the opportunity to engage in maintenance of the community garden, where multiple berry crops are currently grown, including: black currants, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, saskatoons, and haskaps. Field trips to the local Farmer’s Market(s) http://www.farmersmarketpg.ca/ are planned. A local bedding plant operation and another local producing organic farm will be visited

All apprentices have possible field trips to the nearby Ancient forest of 1000+ year old cedar trees http://web.unbc.ca/~wetbelt/af-trail.htm , day hikes in the nearby alpine & wilderness area, or the possibility of participating in Ecovillage annual events like the Spring & Fall Gatherings, as well as the Dunster Ice Cream Social and the Robson Valley Music Festival http://www.robsonvalleymusicfestivalbc.com/ . Fulfilling apprenticeship responsibilities are required before attending /participating in off site events. Participants in all apprenticeships will learn about the local ecology of the Interior Cedar/Hemlock Rain Forest ecosystem, social & community skills, and the economics of sustainability. A small weekly fee is charged to offset food and lodging costs. To apply answer the following questions at the Survey Monkey link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FTWN7F5

The selection process is competitive so please apply early. We expect to receive many more excellent applications than we can approve. The process of selection for upcoming apprenticeships generally closes some months in advance of the starting dates.

Some openings may still occur due to cancellations, so apply anyway if you are late in applying. We do sometimes accept applicants right up to the stating date because of cancellations.

The goal of the apprenticeship programme is rather succinct: to teach people aspects of sustainability and ecovillage living.

More specifically we aim to teach some fundamental aspects of survival as a human being:

  • how to grow food, and market in today’s competitive world, if you choose
  • the significance of animals to our lives, as fellow co-inhabitants of the earth, and particularly as suppliers of clothing materials
  • how to live cooperatively and supportively
  • to help inspire the creation of more ecovillages
  • to provide a hands-on experiential learning environment

Our expectations of students:

Students will spend at least 30 hours per week on assignments and tasks related to the programme. At times due the nature of long Canadian Summer days and the fact that Nature does not wait for us, our work days may be extended and physical.

Students will endeavor to work well with one another and with the staff/ members of the Ecovillage. They will also have time to enjoy the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountain wilderness, meditating on the banks of a wild, clean river, good company around a campfire, and an invigorating swim on a hot summer’s day. There may even be the occasional sighting of an elk, beaver or bear…

Apprenticeship allows for an introduction into the seasonal life of Kakwa Ecovillage, and insights to consider if membership was to become a goal…

Class size is limited so early registration is recommended.

Cost is $600 per month for subsistence (food staples***, energy, internet and lodging). We are an educational endeavor within a forming ecovillage. Thus we have little to work with in terms of surplus. What is offered is an experience to gain practical experience and knowledge in a spectacular natural setting, in the midst of a cooperative social environment. We aspire to permaculture principles and encourage the attunement to Nature and the collective energy of the group, whether at work or play.

To apply:

Answer the following questions by clicking the Survey Monkey link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FTWN7F5 Select the type of apprenticeship and dates of your availability. Please limit your response to a paragraph for each question.

Non-Canadians are considered for apprenticeships. If accepted non-Canadians must provide proof of medical insurance. Via Rail provides service direct to our site. This is the preferred method of arrival. Arrival by bus to McBride; nearby on highway 16, or via airlines to Prince George will require advance coordination. Special requests are $65/trip.

If you are accepted into the program, you will be notified by email or phone. Upon notification you will be asked to pay a non-refundable deposit of $150 in order to reserve your space. See Payment Options link.  Balance of programme(s) selected is due upon arrival.

Accommodations:

Hostel style shared bedrooms, a river side cabin, and camp sites are available for the entire course. There are compost toilets, indoor and an outdoor shower. Conditions at the Ecovillage are primitive and tight but livable. We share a community building known as the Common House. There is a shared kitchen and dining area, living room, hard-wired internet access, and clothes washing facilities.

Apprentices will have the option of staying in the hostel accommodations, the river side cabin, or camp sites. There may be other guests or visiting members who rent out beds during your stay, for $16 per night. Bedding is provided

What to expect:

Every season and year is different. There will be up to 7+ apprentices and 6 coop members living on site, as well as some members living off site. You will experience what it is like to live in a communal setting, sharing facilities and responsibilities. You will have daily chores, such as cooking, bathroom cleanup, sweeping floors, etc. You are expected to clean up after yourself, and be part of the team.

Expect a steady flow of visitors throughout the season. In general we greatly appreciate scheduled guests and we ask that you help them feel welcome.

During your stay we will provide you with staple*** food items, including an assortment of beams, grains, seeds, and flour, condiments like butter, honey, soy sauce, mustard, vinegar, hot sauce, vegetables include onions, garlic, and ginger, cooking oils, spices, potatoes, and seasonal produce from our gardens, and tea. When the gardens are producing this list expands to include more fresh vegetables. Any additional specialty items you will need to purchase. If you have special dietary requirements please advise us as soon as possible.

Before you come, you must know that we avoid strict regimentation, yet offer supportive structure. At the Ecovillage you are in charge of your own learning experience. Often you will be self-directed and pro-active. If you need someone to hold your hand, or tell you what you should be doing and when you should be doing it, this probably isn’t the place for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do you have internet connections?

A. Yes, these are free. We do not provide any workstations so for email and surfing we recommend you bring your own laptop or other USB compatible internet device. There is 1 hardware port. Downloading of music, movies, YouTube, etc. are not permitted in order to allow everyone access.

Q. How about telephone?

A. We have 1 telephone line. Ecovillage business takes priority. However, access to a telephone in a public space is available for 1 hour per day, as needed. We have no cell phone coverage. We are in the WILDERNESS.

Q. Will you accept apprentices from other countries?

A. Yes, with 2 caveats: you must have a good command of the English language and offer proof of health insurance.

Q. How much work will I have to do?

A. Most work weeks for apprentices are ~30 hours of weekly activities, including any required training to understand that activity. Some weeks have more lengthy and intense schedules, depending on weather, and projects, but we balance extra work with extra play.

Q. What skills do I need?

A. You must be able to understand spoken English well enough to follow instructions and not endanger your self or others. No other skills are required, although we do like to know what other skills you bring as we may employ them from time to time.

Q. Will I have to work very hard?

A. We are far more interested in efficiency, quality of work done, and enjoyment of the activity and the setting, than in how much energy you expend. If you want to do the minimum of work for what you can get in training, you are not thinking in a way that fits here. Neither is it useful to obsessively work. Right work is the middle way. When you discover that, it is no longer effort, it is just you. The work should be part of a good life.

Q. What activities will I be doing?

A. That’s a good question, but one not simply answered. Your goal is to have an experience and to learn. Our goal is to successfully manage the farming component of the Ecovillage. As a result there may be day-to-day priorities that require adjustments to schedules from what was planned. That is daily life any where. Alpaca husbandry experiences will learn that, as well as participate in some gardening/farm projects. Organic gardening experiences will learn that, as well as participate in some alpaca husbandry/farm projects. Also, everyone here shares in the routine tasks, which will be assigned using a chore wheel.

Q. How much decision-making independence would I have as an apprentice?

A. Initially, very little. We will assign your tasks and provide whatever training is needed for you to complete them. As you develop confidence and skills you will be given greater responsibility.

Q. I will need some income if I apprentice. How can I earn it?

A. There are mainly 2 ways.

1) The most obvious one is to get a part-time job before you come, save up, and use that to join us for 4 weeks.

2) Write grants for various projects that we do not yet undertake due to lack of funds. The apprentice writes him/herself into the grant as some kind of assistant. We can help with the program narrative and budget development aspects of projects. Typically it would be hard to justify option 2 without a multi-month commitment by the apprentice.

Q.  Will you house and feed me?
A.  Yes. We provide hostel/cabin housing or campsites and full vegan meals. You will be asked to help maintain order and share kitchen duties. You may also have your own personal dry food stash which will require separate storage. Refrigeration space is adequate but limited.

Q. What about my dog?
A. We do not permit pets. You will have to kennel your dog or leave it with a friend.

Q.  Do you have a drug policy?
A.  We do not want illegal drugs, tobacco, or smoking on our property, period.  This is not a judgment regarding people who use these substances, simply an expression of how we relate to a high-visibility demonstration space that receives public and private donor funding.

Q.  What kinds of people are you looking for?
A.  The most important traits are 1) absolute honesty and forthrightness and 2) Deep respect for private space and boundaries.  3) Almost as important are motivation and the desire to learn what we can teach.  4) As we have already suggested, the lazy person and the workaholic are equally inappropriate here.  5) We will probably become friends if you also have a sense of humor and a deep appreciation of beauty.  A reverence for life would not hurt.  6) If you have the knack for knowing when to take initiative and when to come back for guidance, that is great, but a willingness to acquire this rare skill is almost as good.  7) We would not enjoy the company of people who make an issue of race, color, sexual preference, etc or related matters.  8) We will rejoice in any skills you happen to bring, but we do not weigh them a whole lot in screening applicants. Your quality of character is our major interest.

Q.  Sounds great!  How do I sign up?
A.  We have a fairly formal screening process.  Obviously, screening is mutual and we put all the negative stuff we can think of out front so that we can avoid wasted time. To apply, fill out the online application. You can append a resume if you like. We will review the communication and make a decision. If you are accepted, you will be informed by email.

Q.  All this screening sounds like a lot of fuss.  Is it OK if I just call and/or drop by and talk with you for a few hours and look your place over?
A.  No.  Absolutely not.  Don’t even think about it.  We have experience living in an “ecovillage zoo” and don’t like it.  Because we receive large number of inquiries, we communicate only by email and most of our responses are automated. It is not part of our personal lifestyle design to answer the same question 1000 times per year, even in the best humor. Because we are a demonstration site for sustainable living, we do welcome requests for guided tours generally well in advance.  Guided tours need to be a rain or shine commitment, as we divert time from other tasks to prepare for the tour.

Do you have any other questions?  Please ask them.

Contact: info@kakwaecovillage.com

*****Note: We gratefully acknowledge our time as an Apprentice during the Summer of 2001 at the The Farm in Tennessee, USA. Our programme is modeled on our experience there with local adaptations. For those interested I can enthusiastically recommend their ongoing apprentice programme http://www.thefarm.org/etc/

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