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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


October 4, 2003 - Issue 97


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Workers, Plants Both Grow in Tribal Greenhouse Project


by Bill Cleverley Victoria Times


credits: Darren Stone, Times Colonist

Edie Tommy picking tomatos.Working in a greenhouse this past summer has helped Edie Tommy grow.

"It's changed me. I'm more outspoken now," said the 17-year-old.

Tommy is one of five youths who took part in the Cowichan Tribes Youth Greenhouse Program.

In its first season of operation, the program has achieved more than $12,000 in total sales from close to 320 kilograms of tomatoes and 233 cases of cucumbers.

The program was begun to provide learning options for the band's youth, said acting chief Lloyd Bob.

The band reached an agreement for use of a greenhouse at the former Koksilah Nursery, 5301 Trans-Canada Highway in Duncan, and invested about $4,000 for improvements and installation of a heater.

The students worked at the greenhouse 3-1/2 hours a day, five days a week. The majority of the time was spent hands-on, while one or two hours a week were devoted to classroom training.

A hydroponics operation, the program required a certain degree of sophistication. Instruction and operations were overseen by registered grower Jim Quaife.

Students were taught the ins and outs of seedbed construction and preparation, pruning, watering and fertilizing techniques, disease recognition and control, pest management and predator control, harvesting packaging and preparation for market and direct selling, receipts and record keeping.

Quaife said because of the way the operation was run -- complete with monthly tests -- there's a possibility the work could be used as credit toward horticultural programs at Malaspina University College.

The growing season was cut short this year because repairs to the greenhouse took longer than expected, but Bob said the youth services committee, chief and council will review the program and it could be offered again.

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