Farmers are looking to locals for farmhand labour this year.

Canada’s food supply at risk as pandemic tightens borders to farm workers

Let’s take a moment to discuss the truth about farmworker. Over the last five years, many stories have surfaced about unsanitary housing, unsafe working conditions, and unfair pay that many foreign temporary workers have endured in the farming industry in Canada. While this discussion is not to broadly paint and fault farmers, it is to highlight the result of a broken system and how in crisis the fragility of the system reveals itself. 

“Already, an outbreak of COVID-19 illness has occurred involving temporary foreign workers at a plant nursery in West Kelowna, B.C. The provincial health officer said this week she’s broadly concerned over housing conditions and the health and safety of these workers.” (Darren Calabrese, The Globe and Mail)

In times of crisis, coming together as a community is everything. How can we, as a community, join forces to create win-win scenarios to help heal personal injury and repair broken systems? How can we see the destruction of COVID-19 as an opportunity to reimagine a different way forward for farming in Canada?

Wild Food Box is trying to help. We are currently negotiating with the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) to create safe job opportunities and work experience for students at local farms. Students will work in safe conditions and receive a living wage for their work. We are working with the UBCO Student-Union to match what the farmers can afford to pay the students. Students will gain work experience while also connecting with the land developing a deep understanding of the Okanagan and stewardship in the process.

In our proposed win-win, the farmer receives help, and the local economy sees some resilience until a better solution or agreement is found. This is also an opportunity for younger generations to connect with the aging farming community and learn about the local production of food.

If you are a student or Alumni interested in working on a farm please contact the UBCO Student Unions Office. You will need your own car or be willing to stay on the farm.  

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