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
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.