Farm Labour Skills
2018 – VCLA is developing a new employment and training program with two main goals:
1. To solve problems for farmers by providing a Nova Scotian option to help meet short-term or seasonal labour needs.
2. To create opportunities for people to experience farm labour and to develop farm-related work skills.
In our first year we want to work with a core group of 12-16 trainees who will gain work experience, learn farm labour and other employability skills, attach to the labour market, and participate more fully in their community. Using adult education principles and focusing primarily on experiential learning, the curriculum will be balanced through the seasons with approximately 70% seasonal field production, food handling and direct marketing activities and 30% classroom, farm field trips, presentations by guest speakers, and group discussions. Participants will carry out seasonal farming activities in greenhouses, gardens, fields, orchards, and at other locations, with leadership and supervision provided by program staff.
Farm labour is physically demanding work. Many people who may wish to be employed do not have the physical stamina to work quickly and consistently while maintaining high quality throughout 8 to 10 hour days. Through a structured approach to work-hardening, our program will help participants develop their physical strength and capacity, and their motivation, to do manual labour. We will ensure that participants will have all the necessary education, clothing and gear to work safely in varied weather, and we will address our participants’ transportation barriers and work collaboratively with partners and others to solve them.
When farmers’ needs call for a larger group of workers, we will also engage, and provide supervision and support for, other job seekers. Through these supported work crews, when appropriate we can also provide paid work to people who may not have the strength and stamina to work long hours but still have work skills to contribute to farm-related projects. This will expand the workforce from which farmers can draw to get their work done.