By Olivia Jackson
As many of you know, at Glenora Farm we offer daily classes and activities (“workshops”), where Companions develop expertise and discover new interests in the areas of farming, life skills, art, and culture. These experiences enable Companions to discover talents, contribute to the farm/community, and develop applied life/vocational skills. Workshops also help catalyze self-efficacy, confidence, and a sense of belonging among Companions. These opportunities for personal growth, achievement, and community-building are critical for persons with disabilities – a population that often faces disenfranchisement, marginalization, and isolation because of their special needs.
This year, we plan to “get cracking” on a new workshop idea. This new initiative will establish a 75-hen layer farm that will be managed by Companions with assistance from Coworkers (Glenora Farm Coworkers) and volunteers. This 7-day/week program will involve animal husbandry (feeding, caring for, and cleaning up after the chickens), food cultivation (collecting, cleaning, and storing the eggs), and basic economics (budgeting for feed, counting/tracking inventory, and managing/recording sales).
While most of the eggs produced by this new workshop will be consumed on the farm, surplus eggs will be distributed to the community via donations to organizations helping individuals/families facing food insecurity (Nourish Cowichan and Cowichan Valley Basket Society) and sold (via the Glenora Store, farmer’s markets, Cow Op, CSA boxes and a farmgate stand). This will reduce our operating costs (by providing an in-house supply of eggs and generating revenue through sales) and will help Companions participate in, and give back to, the local community (through point of sale transactions, donations to food security serving organizations, and special events related to the program). This workshop will help Companions to build new skills and enhance their self-esteem/efficacy, improve our financial sustainability, and contribute to local food security.
So far, Glenora Farm has received a donation of 23 laying hens, a $10,000 grant from Vancity to purchase chicken coops, and a $2,000 donation from the Duncan Lions Sassy Lion Thrift Store for program costs. We also hosted a bottle drive which, thanks to our supporters, brought in just over $900. Last month we put forward our Summer Appeal, where we asked supporters for their help to cover the cost of chicken feed during the project’s first year ($5,500). With this assistance, we can establish this program and start generating the eggs/revenue we need to keep this program going in the future!