It was child labour, but with a twist that makes it all OK.

Dozens of children with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Calgary got down and dirty this week to learn about agriculture and giving back.

"They learn about urban agriculture, local food systems and just good old hard work," Paul Hughes of Grow Calgary told CBC News.

"They have camps for kids that are part of their program. They work with us for the kids to come out and have a real farm experience. They have shovels, they help, they weed, they mound, they water, they transplant. They do what any farmer would do. It's a real time experience for these kids."


Stacey says it feels good to help local social agencies. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

Farmer-in-training Stacey says she likes that food grown on the Grow Calgary farm goes to local social agencies with food access programs.

"I feel pretty happy, I feel that we are doing a good thing," she said.

The farm provides food for Inn from the Cold, Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter, Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre, Calgary Alpha House, the Iyahrhe Nakoda Food Bank Society, Kerby Centre and many other agencies.

Farmers-for-the-day Kole and Nathan said they enjoyed the experience but it was hard work under the sun.

Kole and Nathan

Kole, left, and Nathan enjoyed what they learned but said it was a hot day for working outdoors. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

"It's hot, very hot," Nathan said.

"We are planting food and putting dirt on top of the plants so then they can grow bigger."

Kole said it was a team effort.

"When we got here, me and my friend Billy and my other friend Bryson, we were just pulling weeds, putting them in wheel barrows and finding tomato plants, yeah."

Meanwhile, Hughes says it's an experience many Calgarians should consider, not just youth.

Paul Hughes of Grow Calgary

Paul Hughes of Grow Calgary says more people could benefit from creating a connection to their food. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

"They are doing something they have never really done together," he explained.

"They are getting dirt under their fingernails and they are getting some real-time farm experience out here. They are connecting to their food system which is a really, really valuable experience and not a lot of our youth now-a-days, or people in general, have that opportunity to connect."

With files from CBC's Julie Debeljak