Farm experience partnership a win-win for CGC, VIU

Shovels, rakes, soil, and compost have started flying again with students from VIU's WEST program at the KinPark Youth Urban Farm

Shovels, rakes, soil, and compost have started flying again with students from Vancouver Island University’s WEST (Workplace Essential Skills Training) program at the KinPark Youth Urban Farm located at Kinsmen Park on Alderlea St. in downtown Duncan.

For the past three academic years at VIU, between 12 and 14 students in the WEST program have been walking over to Cowichan Green Community’s KinPark Youth Urban Farm on Thursday mornings to assist with the maintenance, growing, harvest, and beautification of the small-scale market gardens, greenhouse, and food forest.

The WEST program offers employment training and skill-building to young adults in the region facing barriers to education and employment due to various disabilities.

“Our students discover their potential, know that they can contribute to the community they live in and leave each class believing in their own vision of themselves feeling that possibility is around the corner,” explained Deborah Provencher instructor of the WEST Program. “Our relationship with CCG is truly priceless.”

The partnership is truly a win-win scenario.

“Not only do the students gain valuable employment skills at the park,” said farm supervisor Heather Kaye, “but we get an enormous amount of work done for the space allowing us to grow, tend and harvest a large amount of produce that is then used in CGC’s programming including our family cooking classes and youth canning enterprise.”

Several of the WEST students have gone on to seek employment and volunteer opportunities in the region after graduating from the two-year program.

“We have witnessed many amazing transformations in the students as a result of this program,” added Kaye.

For more info on CGC and the KinPark Youth Urban Farm, contact heather@cowichangreen community.org. For more info on the VIU WEST program, contact Deborah.Provencher@viu.ca