It’s unbelievable that a year has passed and the pilot run of the Cowichan Agriculture Training (CAT) program is wrapping up! CAT is a project based labour market training project offered by Cowichan Green Community in partnership with Global Vocational Services and funded by the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation.
Throughout the year program participants have had the opportunity to engage in 800 hours of sector related activities including workshops with professional certification, guest speakers, field trips, individual learning projects, and community events interwoven with over 640 hours of hands-on work experience at local farm placements. These folks are now ready to spring into action as employees at local farms, as collaborators in food growing initiatives and land sharing, or embarking on their own enterprise. Quite likely it will be a blend of all of the above for them!
Not only have the participants been learning a lot but running this program has been a valuable experience for CGC as we continue in our vital mission to foster community resiliency and food security in our beautiful region. Balancing the needs and expectations of the participants, farm mentors, funders and community partners has provided us with a wealth of knowledge and understanding around how to design and deliver successful programs that can increase our local food capacity while also addressing interrelated economic and employment issues.
Our intention now is to work with this learning and refine our program design and format in response to what worked well, and areas that can been improved. So while there will not be another CAT program starting this spring, there will certainly be future iterations of this program as we move ahead into the future of food in the Cowichan Region (which is growing!).
If you think that the future of food in our area is important, please consider becoming a CGC member. Membership helps us build our organizational capacity to design and offer programs such as CAT, and it also comes with great perks! Learn more about membership here: http://cowichangreencommunity.org/product/cgc-membership/