Cultivating Youth Leadership: Urban Farm Project (CYL)
AFB promotes the sustainable development of Urban Farms and Community Gardens by nurturing a new generation of young leaders. We work towards this goal by creating opportunities for the youth of North-West Toronto to expand their knowledge base, develop new skills and positively engage with their community through the operation of socially responsible urban farming enterprise and Garden Animation.
Youth begin their experience with Afri-Can FoodBasket in the seven-week Summer Youth Program, during which participants work each day on the urban Farm and in the community. Working under the supervision of our staff, interns and Senior Youth Interns, new participants develop a strong sense of self and community while learning the skills necessary to grow food from seed to sale. Additionally, youth participants are introduced to the social context of our work, the food system, issues of community wellness, and social justice.
At AFB we believe that engaged youth is a key asset for building positive communities, and that all youth possess leadership potential. Youth leadership development is part of our long-term strategy for promoting well-being and minimizing juvenile delinquency. We help young people discover their skills, motivate them into productive young adults, and provide youth opportunities to make lasting contributions to their communities while cultivating practical employable skills.
CYL caters to youth between the ages of 16-25 and consists of 3 phases, which use land cultivation as a vehicle to develop healthy individuals for healthy communities. The CYL Project is an opportunity for youths to learn about food, food production systems, the natural environment, and community development through hands-on practical eco-farm/garden work and civic engagement. These activities seek to familiarize young people with self, food, culture, farm/garden and the greater natural environment.
CYL short-term objectives:
- to provide youth in the Jane-Finch, Jamestown and Lawrence Heights neighourhoods employment opportunities to develop
employment, leadership and entrepreneurial skills enhancing participants well-belling
- to increase youths’ knowledge and skills in organic agriculture and environmental stewardship
- to increase youth’ civic engagemetn and social networks
- to improve youths civic engagement and social networks
- to improve youths health-related knowledge and behaviours (eg., diet, exercise) to address and prevent obesity
- to increase youth participants and communities awareness of local food system and food security issues
- to increase local community food access to culturally appropriate foods
Each participant is required to complete all of the following phases of the project to successfully graduate from the CYL Program
The Induction and Orientation Phase enlists a minimum of 12 youths to participate in weekend and after-school sessions, which run from May to June for a duration of 60hrs of training over an 8-week period. This phase focuses on the following:
- Community Food Security 101- Local Food Systems
- Horticultural Farm/Garden Training
- Life skills and Leadership Development
The Internship: Transformational Phase consists of graduates of the Induction and Orientation Phase. This Phase is 300hrs, 30hrs/week with over 10 weeks of practice and theory application from July to September:
- Horticultural Farm/Garden Experiential Training
- Life skills – Leadership Development
- Community Food Security Animation-Employment
Civic Engagement and Community Development: consists of graduates of Phase 2 engaged in weekend and after-school sessions that run from September to November (option to extend). Interns will participate in civic engagement, Life skills and Leadership training.
For more information on CYL contact Afri-Can FoodBasket at (416) 248-5639
Project Funder & Partners
Youth Challenge Fund, “The Spot”, Jane & Finch Community & Family Centre, Partners: African Canadian Cultural Collective, FarmStart, Centre for Land & Water Stewardship, ANKOBEA, City of Toronto Community Garden Program, Toronto Region and Conservation Authority, Everdale Organic Farm, West Indian Volunteer Community Service Association, Yensomu, United Way, Toronto Community Housing Corporation, Weston Mount Dennis Youth Association, Garden of Friends Community Garden, Ethiopian Orthodox Church Medhane Alem, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Young Urban Professionals, Toronto District School Board, Lawrence Heights Community Centre, Elm Bank Community Centre, Driftwood Community Cenre.