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Annemarie and Kevin Klippenstein, owners of Klippers Organic Acres in Cawston, operate an in-depth successful apprentice program.

SUSAN MCIVER Farming expertise shared

Cawston couple find the benefits of their apprenticeship program can go both ways. By Susan McIver


evin and Annemarie Klippenstein, owners of Klippers Organic Acres in Cawston, operate an apprentice program that offers extensive hands- on experience complemented by seminars on relevant topics. The program benefits both the participants and the Klippensteins. Annemarie and Kevin receive the labour required to run their farm and a sense of satisfaction in educating future farmers and others involved in the agricultural industry. “The idea for our apprentice program started in 2004 when a woofer wanted to know more about propagation and how to set up her own farm,” Annemarie said. Woofers are participants in Willing Workers on Organic Farms, a loose network of organizations that facilitate placement of volunteers on organic farms in close to 100 countries. The next year Annemarie and Kevin had two apprentices, a couple from Quebec.

To date more than 50 people, 12

ranging in age from 18 to 50-plus, have participated in the apprentice program and there is a full roster for the 2013 season.

“We aim for 10 people per year but will go higher if we get amazing applicants,” said Kevin. In 2012, the 10 were selected from a pool of 32 applicants through a process that involved questions by e-mail, an interview via Skype and an on-farm visit for several days.

Many apprentices come from Ontario

and B.C.’s Lower Mainland. “It’s important that applicants understand the nature of farm work and can work independently and as part of a team,” Kevin said.

Apprentices receive free board and room plus a monthly stipend that increases with experience.

In 2009, Kevin constructed a 75-foot by 25-foot two-storey building. The top floor, which has four bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and living room, serves as accommodation for the apprentices while the ground floor is a fruit-drying facility.

The Klippensteins continue to host a few woofers each year who may be supervised by the more experienced apprentices. “We’ve met some amazing people. It’s rewarding to see the young people grow and mature,” Annemarie said.

She estimated that up to 20 percent of the apprentices will eventually farm while most of the remainder become involved in other aspects of agriculture such sales, marketing and distribution. The apprentice program helps to increase the overall knowledge and expertise level within the industry. “Nadja Luckau did the


Apprentice Paul Howson spends a winter day organizing tools in the shop at Klippers Organic Acres.

British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2013

apprentice program for two years and was our lead farm hand for one. Today she farms near Revelstoke and is active in the local

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