Parkdale Food Centre is working in a partnership with Youth Now Canada and Youth Services Bureau to help reduce the barriers involved in finding and maintaining employment. This unique project places youth and young adults in an 8-week paid internship at the Youth Now Farm, located at 5039 Russell Road. The youth are tasked with learning to plant, maintain and harvest market produce, follow organic pest management techniques, care for farm animals, and sell garden produce to the general public and restaurant partners. They learn and practice skills relating to conflict management, problem solving, team work, adapting to change, confidence building, reliability and personal responsibility. In addition to their time on the farm, youth receive kitchen training and build mealpreparation skills at the Parkdale Food Centre with Chef and Kitchen Manager, Simon Bell. While building the soft and hard skills transferable many employment settings, they prepare individual employment plans and identify strengths, interests, and job prospects they can pursue post-internship.
The You Grow initiative uses a multi-pronged approach combining community engagement, youth skills development, paid employment, therapeutic experiences, and mentorship – in a unique farm setting – to intentionally target the strengths and barriers of individual youth (ages 15-24) in order to create lasting employability and job retention. It brings existing resources together in a way that leverages the strengths of each partner to deliver a cohesive and successful experience for youth.