A different kind of farm family

The intergenerational family farm is a common story, but what makes our family farm story unique is that we are an intercultural and international family farm as well.

This means that each year we open our home to international trainees who are looking for a farm adventure.  So far I have been a host mom to over 25 trainees and I am inspired by their brave and bold pursuit to learn what agriculture can look like in different parts of the world.  These young people come into our home as strangers and leave as family. They are “brothers” to our girls, they return to visit, and their friends and family come to meet their “Canadian family”.

I am inspired to be more adventurous and inquisitive when I see their energy for travel.  I am more reflective of our practices because trainees notice differences or ask about why we do things the way that we do.  Each year I gain a broader perspective than I had the year before, because trainees expose me to new and different ideas. However, they also solidify and reaffirm what I believe to be the core essence of agriculture.  Farmers are stewards of the land to supply food for the world.  We are bonded by that ultimate purpose.

I love that my girls get to see how ag brings people together.  We host trainees because we are rooted in ag; we love it and we want to share it, to learn, and to teach others about what ag looks like for us.

IRE: How does it work?

Originally posted April 4, 2018

Each year our farm hosts international trainees – young people looking to further their agricultural education through an apprenticeship training.  Trainees look to Canada because they can learn (or practice) English, while working on large equipment and seeing an awesome country.  We love hosting trainees because they teach us about different aspects of agriculture and help us to reflect on, and explain, our practices.  So, the question we often get is “How do you meet?”.

We learn about trainees in two ways: direct contact from a potential trainee or through International Rural Exchange (IRE).  Working with IRE involves a process that is a bit like online dating.  IRE collects initial information from hosts and trainees and uses this information to identify potential matches.  For instance, we are only introduced to trainees who want to live in a family home and work on a grain farm. Then IRE provides us with an opportunity to review a trainee profile and the trainee reviews our profile to see if we each think it will be a good match.  Once the match is made, the paperwork process begins.

Regardless of how we connect, International Rural Exchange helps us to navigate all of the paperwork to ensure that our trainees have the correct documentation, insurance and visas.  Our trainees are subject to the same regulations as other temporary foreign workers or seasonal workers coming to Canada. Working with IRE gives us the peace of mind in knowing that they are current with the latest requirements and regulations.

Working with IRE also gives us, and our trainees, connections throughout the season.  IRE facilitates trainee orientation and helps trainees connect online and in person.  Trainees get the opportunity to network with each other and can get together for a touch of home even when they are in Canada. 

If you want to learn more about the International Rural Exchange experience check out their site

If you would like to see the trainee experience at Vallotton farms check out the FarmFemmes YouTube channel.  

IRE also helps Canadian young people find agricultural placements abroad, so if you know someone who might be looking for a gap year, to experience a different type of agriculture, or a way to travel and earn money let them know about IRE.

Trainee Week: A different kind of farm family

The intergenerational family farm is a common story, but what makes our family farm story unique is that it is an intercultural and international family farm as well.

This means that each year we open our home to international trainees who are looking for a farm adventure.  So far I have been a host mom to over 15 trainees and I am inspired by their brave and bold pursuit to learn what agriculture can look like in different parts of the world.  These young people come into our home as strangers and leave as family. They are “brothers” to our girls, they return to visit, and their friends and family come to meet their “Canadian family”.

I am inspired to be more adventurous and inquisitive when I see their energy for travel.  I am more reflective of our practices because trainees notice differences or ask about why we do things the way that we do.  Each year I gain a broader perspective than I had the year before, because trainees expose me to new and different ideas. However, they also solidify and reaffirm what I believe to be the core essence of agriculture.  Farmers are stewards of the land to supply food for the world.  We are bonded by that ultimate purpose.

I love that my girls get to see how ag brings people together.  We host trainees because we are rooted in ag; we love it and we want to share it, to learn, and to teach others about what ag looks like for us.

Fun Friday: Zip Line Adventures

One of the great things about agriculture is that you get a chance to not only work hard, but to play hard too.  Enjoying what your own backyard has in store is one of the opportunities we always like to take.  Zip lining at HyWire Adventures gives crop scouting a whole new meaning and the view is really cool (especially upside down).  The 8 line zip line tour gives plenty of time to check out the fields, the Pembina Valley and to have a few friendly competitions on the racing zip line.  

Hope you enjoy the Go Pro footage we captured while zip lining - and maybe join us next year?

This years class: teaching us!

Every year, trainees bring a unique set of their own skills that we both learn from as well.  Over the past several months you have been seeing some of the amazing photographs taken by last years trainees.  In the 2018 class we are looking forward to learning the drone expertise that has led to this fantastic YouTube Channel.  

We thought you would enjoy the channel as much as we have!  We hope to learn some of his great drone & GoPro technique for our own videos in 2018!  Below is the quick link to his Best of 2017 video.