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Building Skills and Confidence at FortWhyte Farms

Posted on September 2, 2022

Last year we introduced you to the newest addition to FortWhyte Farms – the Ben & Rose Puchniak Woodworking Studio – and the amazing people who made it possible.

Built using Passive House building techniques, we are proud to say it’s one of the most energy-efficient commercial buildings in Manitoba.

Patrick and a farm youth using drill in woodshed.

This summer was the building’s first season being used for its purpose – as a place for youth to build skills and confidence.

Patrick Macklem, the studio’s Woodworking Coordinator, worked with farm youth over the summer and watched as they developed their skills and grew more confident in their work. Below he reflects on how the shop has affected the youth.

Why was it important for FortWhyte Farms to have a woodworking studio?

At FortWhyte Farms our goal is to offer learning and employment opportunities for youth while growing healthy food. This studio expands the learning experiences we offer. It introduces youth and our community to Manitoba’s growing trade industry.

The woodshop will also support the farm’s work as a social enterprise. Like the food grown in the fields, products built in the shop can support other programs at the farm and across FortWhyte Alive.

Two youth from the farm building a small bench.

What do the youth learn during their woodworking rotation?

Some youth enter the studio knowing very little about carpentry. Over the summer they learn how to handle hand and power tools, measure and cut wood, work as a team, and communicate with others. Most importantly, they learn how to do it all safely.

While getting comfortable with the tools the youth have the opportunity to make some creative works that they get to bring home. We also work on larger projects like benches for the farm and outside the studio.

An assortment of small wooden boards with designs, names, and colours on them made by farm youth.

How have you seen the youth grow over their time in the woodshop?

The youth have grown so much over the summer. They worked hard everyday and their skill and confidence grew. It’s amazing to see the pride they have in their work and so rewarding to introduce young women to the trades industry as a career they might have otherwise not considered.

"There's something powerful about being able to make something with courage and pride".

Patrick and 2 youth speak while gesturing to small bench

The inaugural year of woodworking in the Ben and Rose Puchniak Woodworking Studio has been made possible by:

  • Andison Family Foundation
  • Cardinal Foundation
  • Carolyn Sifton Foundation
  • Princess Auto Foundation
  • Princess Auto
  • Thomas Sill Foundation

The grand opening for the Ben and Rose Puchniak Woodworking Studio is coming soon. Keep your eyes on our social media for more information.