Incubator farm aims to teach skills

After years of planning and brainstorming, Canada’s first teaching-incubator seed farm is being established in Duncan.

After years of planning and brainstorming, Canada’s first teaching-incubator seed farm is being established in Duncan.

The Cowichan Green Community Society has garnered almost $70,000 from the province’s Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation for the project.

The project currently has four people gaining work experience under a supervisor to build the farm and be involved in its planning, maintenance and promotion stages.

The work 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 3.5-acre farm is being set up next to Duncan’s Alexander Elementary School on a former cornfield near the Beverly Street dike trail, and will be completed in December.

The property is owned by the Municipality of North Cowichan, which has provided a five-year lease to the CGC.

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, and will be managed by the society.

Judy Stafford, executive director of the CGC, said it took four years for the project to finally come together.

“We actually applied for funding for this project in 2012 but we were turned down because some of the activities we had planned at the time were not applicable to this grant, and we didn’t have the land available,” she said. “There’s been quite a bit of negotiating since then, and we’ve also acquired the land from the municipality in a lease, so we’re really excited that the funding finally came through.”

Stafford said the idea for focusing on learning how to grow seeds was chosen because there isn’t a lot of training currently available in the province in that area of farming.