On Tuesday August 22nd, MP Tim Louis came out to Our Farm to visit some of our staff who were hired through the Canada Summer Jobs program.
Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) is a program that provides wage subsidies to employers from not-for-profit organizations like KW Habilitation (KWH). CSJ generates summer work opportunities for youth ages 15 to 30 in our community and help them transition into the labour market.
Our Farm at KWH has been applying for these subsidies for about 8 years now which has contributed immensely to providing fresh produce to the people we support. Our CSJ staff are in the program anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks during the summer term. This summer, we received funding for 9 weeks. To make the most of the growing season, KWH extended the CSJ contracts for an additional 7 weeks.
At Our Farm, some of the jobs tasked to the CSJ staff included weeding, hoeing, planting, harvesting, watering, maintaining trails, composting, seeding, prepping beds, covering crops, trimming and mowing. Connecting people to the land, food, and each other through sustainable agriculture has been made possible by having extra help on the farm. The impact can be measured in the pounds of food we’ve been able to grow.
Our Farm Coordinator, Jenny Weickert spoke with MP Tim Louis on the benefits of the CSJ program for Our Farm. “Our Farm grows approx. 1/3 acre of organically grown veggies plus complete maintenance on 2kms of trail. This work takes many hands and hours to complete,” says Jenny Weickert who explains, “having CSJ interns at Our Farm is beneficial because we can grow and harvest approx. $17,500 of vegetables each year with the extra help. These organically grown vegetables go back into our homes & Supported Independent Living (SIL) program giving everyone we support the opportunity to eat fresh veggies from June to November that they may otherwise find expensive to buy on their budgets.”
MP Tim Louis has been advocating for CSJ for many years and it was a pleasure to have him visit Our Farm not just to get his hands dirty with us, but to see first hand what we need to make this program a success year after year.