Canada’s first teaching incubator seed farm is coming to Duncan through the Cowichan Green Community Society, thanks to a Job Creation Partnership project funded by the provincial government.
The Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation is providing nearly $70,000 to the society to fund the project, which sees four people gaining work experience under a project supervisor to build the farm and be involved in the planning, maintenance and promotion stages of the project. It will give them valuable employment skills to take with them in their search for full time jobs after the 33-week project is complete.
The 1.4-hectare (3.5-acre) farm is being set up next to Duncan’s Alexander Elementary school on a former cornfield near the Beverly Street Dyke Trail and will be completed in December. It is owned by the Municipality of North Cowichan, which has provided a five-year lease to the Cowichan Green Community Society.
Incubator farms are a new trend that give people access to plots of land, tools and general knowledge of the farming process to learn about the industry and pick up new techniques through practice without the financial burden of buying land and equipment.
This project’s farm will be used by the society as an ongoing training farm that will be made available to people who want to learn how to farm and grow seeds. It will yield beans, peas and grains to be sold and donated in and around the Cowichan Valley, managed by the Cowichan Green Community Society.
Once the participants have designed the farm they will install fencing to keep wildlife out, remove invasive species on the site and research different farming techniques before building raised plant beds, an irrigation system and outbuildings. They will also design promotional material and engage the community to market the project’s impact as residents will now have a place to learn to farm from seed once it is operational.
Funding for the project is provided through the Job Creation Partnership stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships program.
Job Creation Partnerships are part of the Employment Program of British Columbia’s Community and Employer Partnerships, which fund projects that increase employability and share labour market information.
The Community and Employer Partnerships program is featured in B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint and provides more support to people who are struggling to gain a foothold in the job market. It helps build stronger partnerships with industry and labour to connect British Columbians with classroom and on-the-job training, while making it easier for employers to hire the skilled workers they need – when and where they need them.
To date, more than 1,000 job seekers benefited from work experience and more than 200 projects have been funded throughout the province.
B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint was launched two years ago to help British Columbians get the skills they need to be first in line for the almost one million job openings that are projected by 2024 and to re-engineer B.C.’s education programs toward a data-driven system focusing investments toward training for in-demand jobs.
Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation –
“Community and Employer Partnerships are a fantastic way to provide unemployed people work experience to add to their resumes while contributing to some great community projects. I’m excited to see what the participants put together in the Cowichan Valley and I’m optimistic for their future as they gain full-time employment.”
Judy Stafford, executive director, Cowichan Green Community Society –
“We have been envisioning this farm incubator project for over four years. We are beyond excited we have finally broken ground and all the hard, background work is finally coming to fruition. We are very happy to have received so much support and are looking forward to seeing the project unfold.”
Jonah Turton, project participant –
“Contributing to the community by helping establish the Cowichan Incubator Seed Farm has felt great. I’ve never felt so happy after a day’s work.”
- The Cowichan Green Community Society is a non-profit organization that has been focusing on environmental sustainability in the Cowichan region since March 2004. Since 2007, its mandate has revolved around improving food security by developing strong relationships with local food producers and increasing urban and rural food production.
- Local WorkBC Employment Services Centres play a lead role in connecting eligible job seekers to Job Creation Partnership and Project-Based Labour Market Training opportunities in their communities. Once the right match of client to project has been found, the effort of the WorkBC centre continues by providing financial supports and services to ensure success.
- In 2016-17, the ministry has committed to investing $331 million in employment and labour market programs under the Employment Program of BC.
- The Employment Program of BC is funded by the Province of British Columbia as well as the Government of Canada through the Labour Market Development Agreement.
- Funding supports 84 WorkBC Employment Services Centres throughout the province and the four components of the Community and Employer Partnerships fund:
- Job Creation Partnerships
- Labour Market Partnerships
- Project-Based Labour Market Training
- Research and Innovation
Who is eligible for Community and Employer Partnerships funding?
- Non-profit organizations
- Crown corporations
- Municipalities, agencies or territorial governments
- Bands/tribal councils
- Public health and educational institutions
Find out more about the Cowichan Green Community Society: http://cowichangreencommunity.org/
For more information on Community and Employer Partnerships: www.workbc.ca/CEP
Find a local WorkBC Employment Services Centre: www.workbccentres.ca
Learn more about the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation: www.gov.bc.ca/sdsi
For more information on B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: www.workbc.ca/skills
To find out more about the BC Jobs Plan: www.engage.gov.bc.ca/bcjobsplan/