Trainee Experience: Louis Gosselin



Each year we make ag connections from around the world by hosting international trainees. We depend on trainees to seed and harvest our crop, but they also become part of our family. Louis was a great addition to our family and to our farm team. Last week he returned to France to continue his studies in agri-business. Although we were sad to see him go, we were happy that he gave us this seven-question interview before he left:

1.  Where is home for you (city/country)? 

 In the country, in Northern France.

2.  Why did you decide to do an agricultural exchange? 

 To learn English and to see a big agricultural country.

3.  What is the main differences you have noticed about farming in Canada/France? 

  Everything is bigger! (Fields and tractors)

4.  Favorite piece of equipment?  

 Swather

5.  Favorite on the farm job?  

 Driving the swather and the grain cart.

6.  Favorite French food that you missed the most on your exchange?  Favorite Canadian food you will miss when you are in France?

 French cheese!

The chicken burgers and the wraps - I can’t decide.

7. If you could work on, or own a farm anywhere in the world, where would that be & what type of farm/farm size?

In France, because I like my country, and it will be a medium sized dairy farm.

Thank you Louis!


If you are interested in working on our farm check out this video on the trainee experience and learn more about us . You can contact us directly or contact International Rural Exchange Canada to learn about the many other types of farm placements available in Canada.

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.

Prep Week: Are you from around here?

Documentation isn’t glamorous. I get that. But, it is important. So, here we are on post #3 about documentation.

Many farms depend on non-family employees to run their operations. Our farm uses International Rural Exchange Canada to help us find trainees who live with us, work with us and become part of our family farming operation each year. (Want to know what this looks like? ) For us, having an orientation binder has been a helpful tool in preparing trainees for their work on our farm and role in our farm family.

Of course, there are training documents beyond an orientation binder; things like equipment manuals and emergency procedures protocols. However, the orientation package is a first point of reference for questions about “how we do things” on our farm. There are a number of great, and very extensive safety planning tools and human resource manuals available… this is not that. Our orientation binder is a sprinkling of information to get our trainees started on the right foot. Coming to a new farm, in a new country, and living with a new family is overwhelming. Our hope is that the orientation binder provides some information, some reassurances and a promise of more information to come.

If you are an International Rural Exchange host family, a host of trainees through any organization OR just interested in seeing what our orientation binder includes, drop us an email at teresa@farmfemmes.com, comment or direct message us and we will be happy to share our template.

Best of Farm Femmes: Reflections of a Host Mom

Originally posted in November 2017

It is time for me to try to capture what it feels like to be a host mom… First, I feel way too young to be a mom to our trainees – I would totally prefer to be a cool older sister.  But, putting that aside…

Each year we open up our home to strangers and they become family.  It isn’t an easy process… We don’t have a huge house so you can forget about privacy, and it takes a while to figure out how “on” you have to be all of the time.  This pertains to superficial things, like when everyone wakes up in the middle of the night because of a huge thunderstorm, is it okay to be seen wearing PJs? But it also pertains to heavier things, like conversations about budget, work or family.  We are constantly negotiating how much of this conversation happens in front of trainees and how much is just husband/wife…, which goes back to privacy, and finding the time for those more private conversations.

Having trainees in our home every year also influences how we raise our girls.  They have a totally different expectations with regard to attachments, brothers and what it means to be a family.  It is always fun to see the reaction when they explain to people that they got a new brother yesterday! And the girls are still negotiating what it means for brothers to arrive and leave – this year we had two brother Michaels for a time and that was entertaining.  About a day after Andre left this year our oldest asked, “When do we get more brothers?” Whew… I need a bit more of a break than that!

Our trainees are much more than simply employees.  I like to think that we teach them way more than just about Canadian living or life on the farm.  Some have never been away from home before – never done their own laundry or realized you have to make an effort in long-distance relationships if you want to stay in them.  Some have picked up a few new favorite recipes and cooking tips along the way, not to mention learning about child development, hair extensions and work-life balance. I am sure that they get more “sage wisdom” from me than they ever bargained for, or perhaps wanted!  Being a mom of five is hard work! When November rolls around, I am ready for a break. And ready to have leftovers in the fridge!

Living with trainees has been a seven-year adjustment for me.  It is different every year. The trainees who lived with us when I was pregnant had a very different experience than those pre-kids and those this year where the girls are more independent.  And, our trainees next year will have another different experience as they meet each other, and our ever-changing family. Even though we have a few months as a family of four, we are already in the process of getting trainee placements for next year – April is just around the corner.



Trainee Week: Where are they now | Lucas Blanc

Lucas joined the Vallotton Farms team in 2010 and again in 2013.  He had an undying love for farm work, equipment and mechanics and a deep hatred of vegetables! :-)  He was a second generation trainee at Vallotton Farms and in a few more years maybe his son will make it a three-generation tradition!?!?!?

1. Where is home for you (city/country)?

The name of my village is Brenles and it is in the west part of Switzerland.

2.  Why did you decide to do an agricultural exchange?

I will see another side of agriculture - Canada was a dream for me!

3.  What is the main differences you have noticed about farming in Canada?

The big fields.

4.  Favorite piece of equipment?  

Combine! And the big Versatile (love to make a lot of black smoke).

5.  Favorite on the farm job?  

Driving equipment and fixing.

6.  Favorite Swiss food that you wish you had in Canada? Favorite Canadian food that you wish you had in Switzerland?

 Just a piece of Gruyère cheese and a tasty Quizznos sandwich in Switzerland. 

7.  As a repeat ag exchangee what have you learned on each exchange?

When I came back home the first time, I would buy a farm in Canada, but after the second time (2013) I have more appreciated my situation at home. 

I think you have to be born in Canada for living there, but that was the best experience of my life.  Thank very much to the Vallottons.

Last one: When are you coming back to Canada????

As fast as possible!

Trainee Week: Where are they now | Géraud Decock

Géeraud was a trainee in 2016 on Vallotton Farms.  He is active on Instagram, so follow him to see what flax fiber production looks like in France.

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1.  Where is home for you (city/country)? 

Quaëdypre in France

2.  Why did you decide to do an agricultural exchange?

I decided to come to Canada to work on a farm to discover another country, to discover people and agriculture in Canada and to improve my English

3.  What is the main differences you have noticed about farming in Canada/France? 

The main differences are :

- The size of the fields

- The agricultural material is almost the same as the North of France except the big chases ( which are less numerous in France) and the size of the seeders is more important in Canada .

- Agriculture/ farmer is better perceived by people in Canda than in France.

 

4.  Favorite piece of equipment?  

-Red combines

-Grey Mack truck and red Mack truck

-Marcel's pick up truck

 

5.  Favorite on the farm job?  

-Driving a combine

-Driving a truck for hauling grain and for the sowing season

- Checking the fields in the evening with Marcel and Budweiser ;) 

 

6.  Favorite French food that you missed the most on your exchange?  Favorite Canadian food you miss now back in France?

- French cheese : my best is Maroille

- North France Beer and Belgium beer

- French dry sausage

Favorite Canadian food you miss now back in France?

- Sweet corn on the cob

- Burgers, all of burgers

- Steak party on a Bqq

- Poutine

- Teresa's cup cakes

 

7. If you could work on, or own a farm anywhere in the world, where would that be & what type of farm/farm size?

It’s a difficult question for me !! Because I am not a farmer in France ! But I have a job that has to do with agriculture.  Why not in France and why not in Canada?

 

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Last one: If your brother comes here to work, are you coming for a visit???? 

Yes of course, and may be with my girlfriend.  I want to come back to Canada for visit at Vallotton Farms !!!!!!!!

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?