A pilot project in community farming began this month with the goal to strengthen the resilience of the local food eco system and create a sustainable program that will meet the talent needs of the regional demand in the agricultural sector. St. Lawrence College will support the training needs of program participants.
The project, funded through the Government of Ontario’s Skills Development Fund, has received $216,200 in grant funding. Facilitated by the City of Kingston, and under the management of Loving Spoonful, this collaboration will address local food insecurity and position the Kingston community for economic growth.
This multi-partner workforce development initiative will deliver innovative skills training that responds to the labour market needs of the agriculture sector while creating local employment opportunities.
- A minimum of 16 employers across the Kingston area will be participating in the Kingston & Region Community Training Farm program. The partners will be determined based on Loving Spoonful’s network of farmers in the region.
- The Kingston & Region Community Training Farm will be housed on the property of the Collins Bay Institution and will be managed by Loving Spoonful.
In addition to supporting farmers and local food production in a sector that experienced significant labour market shortages pre-pandemic, the project will focus on skills needs of underrepresented groups who have faced some of the largest economic impacts of the pandemic.
- 30 individuals will participate in the program.
- The program will focus on individuals facing barriers to employment, including, but not limited to, newcomers to Kingston, youth, women, individuals who were previously incarcerated, and people facing addiction or mental health challenges.
Loving Spoonful and the City of Kingston will be working with partner agencies to identify applicants facing barriers to employment.
The program will include:
- Training in vegetable production at the Collins Bay site, with participants gaining exposure to other types of farming, including livestock, through monthly farm tours and mentorships in the region.
- Participation in Ignatius Farm’s New Farmer Training Program – a part-time online training curriculum, facilitated in partnership with the Ignatius Jesuit Centre, the Ecological Farmer’s Association of Ontario, Everdale, and the National Farmers Union.
- Participation in introductory carpentry, welding, and electrical skills training.
- Job placement with regional farm employers at the end of the program.
The program began in May 2022, with the farm launching in early June. It will conclude in March 2023.