Students get their hands dirty

A provincial grant has afforded five workers a chance at hands-on agricultural job experience within the Cowichan Valley.

A provincial grant has afforded five workers a chance at hands-on agricultural job experience within the Cowichan Valley.

Community and Employer Partnership funding to the tune of $120,000 enables Cowichan Green Community to train workers in farming and agriculture, giving them work for about a year.

“Cowichan Green Community is honoured to be offering the Cowichan Agriculture Training project with support from the Project-Based Labour Market Training funding,” said Rosalie Sawrie, a project manager for Cowichan Green Community. “This project is going to be extremely beneficial not only for the participants, but also for our local agriculture sector.”

Sawrie said by providing such in-depth training related to many facets of farming and growing food, they will be helping to increase food production and food security for the entire community.

Participants will learn about animal care, greenhouse operations, soil fertility, fruit tree planting and pruning, seed production, weed management, crop planting and rotation, harvesting and bee keeping. They will also receive organic master gardener certification from Gaia College.

“The benefits of having the participants engaged in this type of project is already becoming apparent and we feel confident that we will be able to meet, if not exceed, all the projected outcomes,” Sawrie said.

Employees are on board.

“I feel this program is bringing me closer to the community while learning sustainable skills that can be passed down to my children to better their futures as well,” said participant Shannon Cook.

“The CAT program is a great opportunity to get to know the region and the local farming community,” added Abbi Spencer.

To date, the program has helped more than 800 job seekers benefit from work experience and funded nearly 180 projects throughout the province.

It’s not the only project benefitting the Valley.

The Town of Lake Cowichan is receiving more than $37,300 in government funding for six people to get construction work experience by fixing up the town’s downtown core.

“The team of participants we have on the program have already contributed greatly to our objective of constructing a public washroom in the central area of our small community,” according to Dalton Smith the manager of the Cowichan Lake Education Centre.

In addition to constructing new picnic tables for Central park, the group will rebuild the public washrooms during the 32-week project, in order to provide better accessibility for people with disabilities. New picnic tables will also be built for the park.

According to a provincial press release, 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.