The Richmond Food Security Society is now offering a summer employment program for students aged 12-18 interested in working in school gardens at our participating schools. Our goal is to offer Richmond youth the opportunity to develop employment and gardening skills, while maintaining a flourishing green space and providing our community with fresh, local, healthy food. Youth will receive hands-on training in the gardens on how to maintain the garden through the summer, as well as supervision and guidance from our high-school mentors and staff.
Students will work at a school garden in Richmond 5 hours a week (two 2.5 hours shifts), with some change when there are statutory holidays.
The past few years, we have seen our learning gardens left under-utilized in the summer months. The garden beds either lay overgrown with weeds and food left unharvested, or fall on parent and teacher champions. Even though school is not in session, learning from the garden can continue throughout the growing season. By employing and mentoring students in our school gardens, we can make a lasting impact on their lives. We can increase food literacy and gardening knowledge of our youth, as well as provide them with an opportunity to gain work skills like time management, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. Students, parents, and volunteers also will be able to harvest the food they tend to, and be rewarded with the fruits of the labour.
Our summer employment will be an extension of the Kids in the Garden (Elementary level) and Get Rooted Youth (Secondary level) programs. Our aim is to develop the skills, self-esteem, character and community engagement of youth through food system learning. In this way, this program focuses on personal development, which we believe echoes into students’ lives through academic achievement, career development while creating a healthy community overall.
Our student mentors will be secondary school students who have demonstrated responsibility, an interest in growing food and a desire to mentor younger student counterparts. The senior students will be paired with a junior student, which offers them the opportunity to gain leadership skills and learn about communication and employment. The mentor-mentee relationship will be guided by Richmond Food Security Society staff, who will set expectations at the beginning of the program. For example, regular check-ins with the mentee, aid with their reflections, answer questions for the mentee or seek answers for the questions they also do not know, listen objectively and provide support to their younger counterpart, act as a role model by modelling a positive attitude, punctuality and professionalism.
Our staff will also provide mentorship to senior students in a similar manner, with more of a focus on career development.
At the beginning of the season, there will be an orientation session for all summer student staff on garden safety, gardening basics, as well as an overview of the program and expectations.
Further, each week, the students will receive a short training session on a specific topic, be it weeds, plant care, organic pest control, composting, mulching, watering, or other garden-relevant tasks. A finalized list and schedule will be finalized pre-season. These sessions will be led by our skilled staff.
At the end of the season, students should graduate from the program with a wealth of gardening knowledge to apply at home and in the classroom.
Students will receive an honorarium bi-weekly that reflects an hourly wage of minimum wage. Students will also receive a reference letter upon successful completion of the program. Students will need written consent from a parent or guardian to participate.
The main stakeholders in this program are the schools themselves, Richmond School District 38, Richmond Food Security Society, as well as students, parents, and any community volunteers. Some schools may choose to involve the PACs as well.
This program is possible thanks to the support of the Sfaira Foundation, which funds environmental projects and community development. As well, we are happy to have the support of TD Canada Trust and Richmond Rotary. We are thrilled to have their support.
This being the pilot year for this program, we are starting small, with hopes to expand the program next year. That being said, the summer employment program is really an extension of our Kids in the Program, therefore will be primarily be open to students at our participating schools, to steward the garden culture at schools already showing an interest. If we do not receive enough applicants from our schools, students from other schools in the Richmond School District 38 are free to apply.
Students must be at least age 12 and be enrolled in a SD38 school. Students must write their own application, with permission from their parents. If the applicant is successful, students under 15 must have written consent from their parents to participate in the program.
Find more information about the legal considerations about employing children under the age of 15 here:
After our application period, we will conduct interviews at our participating schools during May-June. Students with a successful application will be contacted through their parent or guardian’s email to arrange interview times. If selected, students will be hired and orientation will be July 2nd.
Want more information? Contact us.