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Peer Mentoring means jobs in the Food Economy


By BYCOOP admin - Posted on 08 March 2014

Peer Mentoring means jobs in the Food Economy

From the Delta Optimist.....

In the BC Government’s revised Agricultural Service Plan published last June, it was announced that the Ministry intended to increase the contribution of the agricultural sector to BC’s GDP. They want to ramp it up by a couple of billion to $14 billion by 2017.

Statistics Canada notes that in 1921, ‘agriculture was the single most common occupation, employing 1,041,618 Canadians and accounting for 33% of all jobs.’...in comparison, 346,400 Canadians were primarily employed in agriculture in 2006, accounting for 2% of total employment.’

Back in the twenties, domestic production and consumption of food was at a peak. There was not a trade imbalance.

Today we export about $40 billion worth of our food and import about $31 billion. If you want to consume domestic foods only, you can do your part by avoiding the top five food imports in Canada. That means no Imported wine for you. That is the number one “food import” that contributes to our food trade imbalance ringing in at $1.7 billion. Next on the list are prepared foods followed by bread and biscuits, followed by coffee. Last on the list of the top five imported foods is cane sugar.

As farm size increases and the average age of farmers continues to rise, worries around farming and food continue to affect our daily lives.

How, then, does the Provincial Government expect to add a few $billion to our GDP  in such a short period of time? They talk about innovation in farming practices and the like but at the end of the day who is going to be doing the farming?

Who is going to process and distribute the food? Maybe we are expected to eat more. You know, like in the Lord of Rings: “Premier Clark announces second breakfast elevenzies program.”

Traditional large scale farms will never go away. Farmers will invent and reinvent themselves and their businesses, and governments and agencies will have to assist to make that happen. New entrants will be enticed and encouraged.

But in regard to the larger food system, we will need bodies to make that 14 billion a reality. We will need farmers, warehousers, distributors, retailers, food service workers etc. etc. The food system and the agri-food sector are a mystery to most. Kids need to better understand it.

Where will these bodies come from? We are lucky in Delta in that our school district is taking a proactive approach to stimulate interest amongst the students in our schools.

In a peer mentoring program in partnership with Kwantlen Polytechnic Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, Delta will see graduate students from KPU working with educators and kids in an ‘Adopt a School’ program. The grad students will be assigned a school(s) and will assist in delivering unit based curriculums to K-12 students in the classroom and on their school neighbourhood farms.

This relationship will assist the degree program students in meeting their internship requirements and it will continue to nurture and cultivate an interest in the broad food economy amongst students in our district.

The Delta School District won’t be able to produce these bodies on its own and it won’t be able to supply them in three years, but by actually doing something about what would appear to be a problem in the future, it is taking a leadership role and that is important right now.

 

 

People often forget about jobs in the food economy. I can recall that many of my friends first jobs ere in grocery retail and the restaurant biz. Many of these same people have moved on to become managers, owners and have started their own business and hired many.

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