Great things are growing in the Youth Farm Co-op project
July 26, 2018
GUELPH, Ontario – Youth from across Guelph are expanding their entrepreneurial skills, running a business that grows and sells fresh, local produce.
Twenty-four students from secondary schools across Guelph are part of this year’s Youth Farm Co-op project.
Now in its fifth year, the project started as a way to provide experiential learning for youth during the summer months. The program runs in collaboration with the West Willow Village Neighbourhood Group, who provides funds along with the Upper Grand District School Board. There is no cost for students to participate.
This year’s group has started a business, called Shoots ‘n Roots, which cultivates, harvests, prices and sells vegetables, grown on a plot of land owned by the UGDSB. The veggies – including zucchini, kale and a variety of lettuces – are grown using organic methods. Students also source items from local, sustainable farmers, such as apricots from The Good Peach in Niagara.
Shoots ‘n Roots sell its produce on Wednesdays from 11:30-4 p.m. at the Wednesday Market in Downtown Guelph and on Thursdays from 4-8 p.m. at Westwood Public School. This year, they’re also showcasing a ‘blender bicycle’ that the students in last year’s program built. For $2, passersby can pedal their way to a fresh fruit smoothie.
The business is student-led and is comprised of a number different committees, including advertising, harvesting, and finance. One of the functions of the finance committee is payroll – the youth involved receive the profits of what they sell, based on their attendance in the program.
Throughout the course of the program, students gain valuable life skills and experience that they can put on their resume and get hands-on experience of running a business. A typical day for the youth running Shoots ‘n Roots includes gardening in the morning then spending the afternoon immersed in the business world, through business and committee meetings, pricing exercises, selling, designing promotional materials and more. The students also take trips to nearby farms, such as the Ignatius Farm just outside of Guelph.
As an additional benefit, students involved in the project are eligible to earn a Grade 11 Business Entrepreneurship credit for running their business.
The Youth Farm Co-op project continues to grow – we can’t wait to see what these students do next!