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Toronto's Black Creek Community Farm teaches youth the art of farming

Young people in one Etobicoke neighbourhood are learning the ins and outs of growing, harvesting and cooking their own produce.

Youth program coordinator Sashoya Simpson teaches youth how to prepare meals using the ingredients they planted and harvested.

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Youth program coordinator Sashoya Simpson teaches youth how to prepare meals using the ingredients they planted and harvested.

Young people in one Etobicoke neighbourhood are planting the seeds of a better future this fall.

Through the Black Creek Community Farm, youth aged 12-18 are learning the ins and outs of growing, harvesting and cooking their own produce. Every Tuesday evening about a dozen of them meet at the community farmland to get hands-on training.

It's part of an effort to improve food security in the community and get youth engaged in improving their lives, said youth program co-ordinator Sashoya Simpson.

"This is an educational program about food in general," she said, explaining that participants will even have field trips to professional farms across the province to learn about eco-friendly methods, composting, conservation and food justice systems.

The program started this month as a continuation of the summer youth internship program, and Simpson expects more young people to sign up.

She said the program gives youth the opportunity to socialize and build up their self-esteem — but also to get outside, stay physically active and develop healthy eating habits.

By putting work into farming and seeing the results, young people can develop a different understanding of the agricultural industry.

"So many times you'll hear kids say: 'I don't want to be a farmer,'" said Simpson, adding that stereotypes are especially common in urban centres. "This gives them a different attitude, and maybe they can pursue employment in the food industry in the future."

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