You are here

4-H Canada Blog

4-H Canada Investing in Me Internship with FoodShare

When I was first approached about the Investing in Me internship I was beyond excited at the prospect of …. I was nervous, however, as I didn’t know much about the people I’d be working with, what I’d be doing and what the experience would be overall. 

From the very beginning I had so much encouragement and support from Erin Smith, Director of Programs with 4H Canada, and Katie German, School Grown Senior Coordinator with FoodShare. Both helped me to understand what this internship was all about and I hope I can share that with you through this post! 

FoodShare

If you’re like me, maybe you haven’t heard about this company or don’t know much about what they do. Well, I did a little bit of research before my internship and hopefully I can tell you a bit more about them.

FoodShare is a non-profit organization in Toronto, Ontario, dedicated to providing available healthy food at an affordable cost, providing food education and creating access to high quality food for everyone.

FoodShare’s main belief is that everyone deserves to have access to high quality, affordable food. They create this access in a number of ways, working with schools and communities. A big way in which they help communities is by the Good Food Box. The Good Food Box uses FoodShare’s ability to buy in bulk as an advantage and in turn they’re able to sell the purchased products at a cheaper price when compared to retail stores. This creates an environment where individuals are able to purchase healthier foods they might not be able to afford in a grocery store. 

They also have pop-up or mobile markets located in communities that don’t have a grocery store within walking distance. The relationship with these communities is collaborative, with residents helping to determine which types of produce and products are available at their markets. 

Another important program that I worked with through FoodShare is School Grown, a program that works with students and schools to grow crops and produce on-site. The produce harvested is then sold at local farmers markets by students and staff. The two schools involved with this are Bendale Business and Technical Institute and Eastdale Collegiate Institute.

Bendale Business and Technical Institute

Bendale Business and Technical Institute is a school which offers a variety of specialty courses, including welding, culinary, baking, cosmetology and courses pertaining to horticulture, to a fairly large student population. The school itself has a garden in both the front and back of the school, which is tended in large part be the students in the horticulture program. These students help with planting in the greenhouse and garden beds, with watering and weeding of the beds. This year, with approval from FoodShare, they also took on the task of planning an expansion of the garden.

Eastdale Collegiate Institute

Eastdale Collegiate Institute has a much smaller student population, and has a beautiful rooftop garden with open and seating areas for events. The school’s garden club helps to water, plant and weed the rooftop garden, which requires lots of water as it gets very hot during the summer, but is extremely easy to weed.  Some plants grown here include strawberries, blueberries, spinach, beets and mushrooms. 

I also had the opportunity to work at the FoodShare headquarters, where all of the programs are runs out of and where project leaders work and meet with other staff and collaborate. The warehouse holds the produce that goes into the Good Food Boxes and is where the boxes are packaged and shipped out of.

Headquarters is also home to the compost site, containing over of 30 bins, and the worm farms, of which there approximately 30. The compost is made by cycling food scraps through the bins until it has completely broken down and can be sifted and packaged for order. The worm farms are used to produce worm castings which are very good for fertilizing gardens.

A Day in the Life on an Intern

Each day of being an intern differs depending on the schedule and the location that day. Work at one of the garden locations mostly involves planting of some kind, as well as weeding and watering. This can change, however, depending on the time of summer as earlier in the summer there might still be some planting to do, but later in the summer the focus moves to harvesting, cleaning the produce, packaging it and selling it at the market. Work at the compost site is mostly turning bins, sifting compost or feeding the worms.

No matter what the task for the day, it’s always a really fun time. The staff and volunteers at FoodShare are pretty awesome and are so welcoming, not to mention that there is always great food served at lunch. It was an amazing experience and I hope all of the other interns who will be working at FoodShare love it just as much as I did. Don’t forget to pack lots of sunscreen!

Here are some more cool pictures from my adventure!