Not all individuals who come from a farming background have their hearts set on following those same footsteps. There are also those who may have no previous experience at all, but have still developed a keen interest in agriculture. Confederation College has come up with a new course which caters to those interested in learning more about Northern Ontario agriculture, whether farming for profit or hobby.
The Farming for Food Program, a 27 week course at 7 hours/week, was developed in relation to how local food production has taken off in the last few years. With a constant and growing demand for local products and services, specifically locally-produced and grown goods, people have become more aware of the great resources we have in our area in relation to agriculture. Organizers of the Farming for Food Program hope to further equip interested individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully grow food. Course specifics include everything from soil science to plant propagation to harvest, as well as various planning systems useful in commercial farming operations. Students are also taught the fundamentals of policies and regulations when it comes to both growing and selling food. For those looking to grow food as a hobby, this course is also a great way to expand their knowledge on the basics of horticulture and crop health. A final opportunity the course presents is an optional field placement, where students are able to work directly with a local farmer or agricultural specialist and further hone their skills. Upon completion of the course, graduates have the skills needed to develop a small business model and become successful entrepreneurs or work on an established commercial farming operation.
I recently spoke with Bill Gregorash, Program Manager of Training and Development at Confederation College, over how the course has gone so far. When they first announced The Farming for Food Program, it seemed to create quite a buzz. Unfortunately, it did not generate enough student enrolment to be able to run the course. It was originally set to start in January of this year. What went wrong? What do organizers plan to do from here? Gregorash still has high hopes for the course. “People are very interested. We just need to fix the broken link as to why they did not sign up. We need a certain amount of students enrolled to make it viable, and we’re now focused on how we can generate more action.” Gregorash also mentioned that they’d like to market the course differently this time, placing more focus on local producers and farmers who already have strong credentials. In using them to market the course, organizers of the Farming for Food Program hope to create more outreach and attraction. There is also the possibility to include some First Nations strategies in hopes to reach this market as well.
Lastly, Gregorash added that any help from the local agricultural community would be welcome. As organizers come together in hopes to launch the program once again, we as a community can take up our responsibilities as well. At the end of the day, we as a community benefit in better educating ourselves in growing wholesome, local foods. And with resources like the Farming for Food Program, not only can we educate ourselves, but we can also train our future generations.
We are looking for help from local producers and agricultural specialist to make this program a success. Contact Bill Gregorash, Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or Miranda Bolt, TBFA website editor at email@example.com.