Article and photos by Jeannie Charrois
Sturgeon County – Last summer, my family and I spent a week touring Austria from the picturesque little town of Maria Alm. Nestled in a valley of majestic mountains, this idyllic community is only about an hour’s train ride southwest of Salzburg. If the location evokes images from “The Sound of Music”, you’re not far off; the evening air was veritably alive as folk bands entertained the gathered locals almost nightly. The beauty of the mountain landscape, relaxed outdoor lifestyle, pride in maintaining cultural traditions, and passion for music were enough to make my family fall in love with this country and its people.
On one of many memorable days, we rose early to hike a neighbouring mountain where we visited a local farm. My husband, children, and I marvelled at the process of traditional cheesemaking as we watched the farm owner-artisan expertly hand squeeze the whey from the curd of her six dairy cows’ milk. We then joined her for breakfast in her home where we dined on freshly made rye breads, pastries, cheeses, and pork. Over this hearty meal, we discussed differences in Austrian and Canadian farming practices, and she mentioned that her son, a student of agriculture, would be looking for a foreign internship the following summer.
We have since been contacted by four young Austrian men, Josef, Michael, Johannes, and Balthasar, who are hoping to gain valuable work experience on Canadian farms this summer. They are seeking a 10-week internship from June 13th to August 20th. All four will be between the ages of 16 and 17 years. They were all raised on farms, have been attending the HLFS Ursprung school for Agriculture since they were 14, and have been studying English for eight years. They are also licensed to drive tractors and enjoy working with animals. They are eager to be exposed to Canadian farming practices and excited to live with a family where they can be fully immersed in the English language.
Their instructor, who spent some time as a foreign farm hand in Montana, Nevada, and California during his own youth, confirms that this is a “handsome, friendly, and hard working” group of students.
They are looking for room and board as well as a discretionary wage to help offset the cost of travel, which they will have to cover themselves. If you are interested in having one or more of these young men work on your farm this summer, please contact Jeannie by phone at 780-961-2213 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This could be a wonderful experience for you and your family. If I had a farm I would jump at this opportunity. If you can provide the work experience, but not room and board, my family may be able to provide accommodations in Legal.