In the summer of 2013 Organiclea, a community food-growing project based in Chingford, launched a work scheme for young people in partnership with Waltham Forest Council – Food Works.
The program offers residents of Waltham Forest the chance to gain work experience in the horticulture sector with on-going mentoring and support. Now in its third successful year the program it has helped many young people improve their confidence, find employment and aspire to a greener, brighter future.
“For us, building aspiration is something we want to start from the word go and that’s about developing a different concept of how work can be something that you enjoy, but also, something that you feel is making an impact.” Clare Joy, Training Coordinator Organiclea explains.
Brandon O’Reilly, 20, took part in the program in 2014. After a successful period of work experience and a paid work placement, Brandon now helps to manage a new foodgrowing site alongside fellow Food Works graduate Michael-Antony Henry.
With ongoing support from Organiclea, Brandon and Michael have transformed an unused plot of land and are now producing 4kg of sustainably grown salad a week.
“I am happy with what I am doing, I want to continue it and develop it. Food Works has helped give me a chance to do something I am interested in and enjoy” says Brandon.
Progression through the program is encouraged and Organiclea is committed to long-term mentoring and support for people who participate in the program.
William Barrett, 21, started his Food Works journey in 2014 and is currently on a paid work placement with Organiclea’s distribution arm.
As part of his work placement, William delivers freshly harvested organic vegetables by bike trailer twice a week all over the borough.
“It is very enjoyable and satisfying work, I’m learning a lot and see this as the start of a career. In the future I want to work on more farms here and abroad.” says William.
Targeted at 16–25-year-olds who are not in employment or education, the program begins with accredited work experience and is designed to reengage young people with training and introduce them to the opportunities available in the horticultural industry Ru Litherland, Grower at Organiclea explains: “It’s about supporting people to go on a journey with us, together we can create a healthy and sustainable food system”.
By Martin Lofty
For more information about the Food Works program call Clare or Martin on 020 8524 4994. To find out more about Organiclea visit www.organiclea.org.uk