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City partners with community organizations to develop a holistic Black youth-led training farm; extends Community Gardens Program


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Pictured: Sean Hanson. Photo credit: Hansel Igbavboa

BRAMPTON, ON (September 16, 2021) – The City of Brampton and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) are supporting with access to land and resources to assist with the development of a Black youth-led training farm at the McVean Farm (9376 McVean Drive) in Brampton.

As an extension of the City’s robust Community Gardens Program, the training farm is operated by the Black Youth Farming Collective, a collaboration between the Asase Institute, and En'tyce Mentorship and Community Service, guided and implemented by the UpRooted Black Youth Steering Committee, and supported in part by the City of Brampton’s Advance Brampton Fund.


The initiative will see the development of a holistic research and demonstration farm at the historic McVean Farm property, located on TRCA-owned lands, with the aim to address inequities in the food system by providing employment, education, and leadership opportunities through farming for Black youth in Brampton. The ultimate goal is to educate students about the transformative and holistic power of farming and growing food, and how the food system around us affects our community, as well as introduce agri-businesses and related careers.

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Pictured L to R: Hansel Igbavboa, Debiiey Dunn, Julian Hasford. Photo credit: Sean Hanson/Hansel Igbavboa


The McVean Farm site is a designated heritage property, once owned by Alexander McVean, one of the early settlers of Brampton. The double English Wheat Barn that McVean and his family built there in the 1840s still stands today and is one of very few of its type that remains.

“For over a decade, the historic McVean Farm property owned by TRCA has served as an important community asset, providing space for growing food, entrepreneurship, education, training and development for farmers of diverse cultural backgrounds. The collaboration with the City of Brampton, Black Youth Farming Collective and TRCA will provide a unique opportunity for mentorship, leadership training and development to empower Black youth through urban agriculture. Through this important work we hope to help address social inequalities, racism towards Black communities, and shine light on the important work undertaken by diverse populations in the agricultural sector,” said Sonia Dhir, Senior Program Manager - Peel and York Watersheds, TRCA.

The UpRooted Black Youth Steering Committee consists of 19 youth and adults including high school students and community food leaders with experience in community-based agriculture, food policy and security, horticultural therapy and holistic health, and wellness, diet and nutrition. The committee meets regularly to discuss the development and implementation of the project, as well activities focused on agricultural and food system education, employment opportunities, and community-driven research.


“The Black Youth Farming Collective comes at an important time, providing a space for Black youth in our community to engage in education, access employment, participate in environmental stewardship, and engage holistic health and wellness,” said Sheldon Caruana, one of the project coordinators at Black Youth Farming Collective.


“The project will provide important tools, connections, support systems, and experiences which will support Black youth in our community to succeed and thrive in leadership roles both in and outside the agricultural sector. This collaboration with the City of Brampton and TRCA is very exciting, and we look forward to continuing our work together, addressing inequities in the agricultural sector and providing leadership opportunities to Black youth in our community.”

The committee is now looking to secure funds to extend the reach of the project within the community, build organizational capacity, conduct community-based research, pilot additional youth leadership and employment programs, and farm-based infrastructural needs. Having secured partial funding in April 2021, the farm will begin discussing collaboration opportunities with nearby schools to conduct a labour market assessment, and launch the Black Food Leadership Pilot Program in Spring 2022. Follow the project’s journey on Instagram at byfc_official.

“The City is committed to supporting opportunities and initiatives for Black youth, and as a Green City, we remain focused on environment and social stewardship. Crises such as anti-Black racism, the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change, present communities with unprecedented pressure to reimagine the core values and structures of our societies. I’m encouraged by these opportunities that provide entrepreneurship training and help build self-esteem for Black youth,” said Gwyneth Chapman, Senior Advisor, Economic Empowerment and Anti-Black Racism Unit, City of Brampton. 

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MEDIA CONTACT
Christine Sharma
Media Relations, City of Brampton
647.242.4319 | christine.sharma@brampton.ca