DUNCAN – 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.