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Youth Works inthe Garden
CONTRIBUTION · 11th August 2012
GG Miles
Youth Works & Good Food for Families Feeding your family is hard when you are poor, and finding work in the Hazeltons is difficult for young people Good news is the Youth Works Catering and the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Project are working together to make a positive difference in the community.

Fifteen dollars a week to spend at the local Farmers’ Market on fresh vegetables, fruit, and meat can make a huge difference for single parents, pregnant women and low income seniors. That is what the nutrition project is about, as it benefits everyone involved, from the local food producers to the coupon users.

Blue and green coupons can be used to pay for produce, cheese, eggs, nuts, seafood and meat; the program is advertised mainly by word of mouth. Families have more choice with coupons, and children can pick out what they’d like to try at the market.
Youth Works, a social enterprise of the Learning Shop and Storytellers’ Foundation, is a successful catering program of learning and teaching and employment experience for young people. “They do it all,” explains community coordinator Janet Melanson, who has a background in working with young people. It works well partly because it’s flexible and there is acceptance and understanding if a worker can’t find child care or is having a terrible day.

The participants grow, harvest, process and prepare a variety of foods, and have catered business lunches, meetings and even a weekend conference for 250 people. The understand presentation of food, and serving, as well as selling their baking and produce at the Farmers’ Market in New Hazelton. Youth Works supplies sandwiches for the Gitanmaax Gas Bar and are booked to do a wedding later in summer.

Fifteen youth, from the late teens to mid twenties have been in the program; currently there are five. All processing and preparation is done in a certified commercial kitchen at the Learning Shop.

Passion for food is clear when the young cooks talk about Youth Works. Craig (nicknamed “Quagmire” by co-workers) Hilback, 20 says he gets to cook and loves food, including kale chips! Jamie Robinson, 18, has developed an even greater love for pizza. Chelsie Lagassse-Morgan, 20, ways she was afraid of working at the Farmers’ Market, but once she tried it she found it easy and fun. Chasity Turley, 23, whose brothers have been through the program, she’s been with Youth Works the longest, learning to make jams and jellies and exploring the use of herbs and spices. She’s learned to meet the challenge of getting preparation done on time and says the best part is “getting the job done!”

Strawberries kept them busy for that short season as they were turned loose in a “you pick” field, and later on they’ll be going out for huckleberries and blueberries. There is a small garden behind the Learning Shop and they have half of the greenhouse at the Senden Farm. Mostly they concentrate on tomatoes, as they specialize in pizza and lasagnas. “There’s always something going on,” notes Melanson .

The BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition and Coupon Project: Healthy Communities - Healthy Economies is a project of the provincial government.
Chasity Turley displays Broccoli
Chasity Turley displays Broccoli
Chasity, Chelsie, Jamie and Craig take a break from the kitchen
Chasity, Chelsie, Jamie and Craig take a break from the kitchen
Deep Green Now, Rich Soup in Winter
Deep Green Now, Rich Soup in Winter