As students get back to the books and the routine of school, the food environments they learn in and the food available to them at school matters. This October is Farm to School Month, and across Canada we are gearing up to Think & Eat Local @ School. The Capital Region Farm to School Hub has been working closely with schools, farmers, parents, community organizations and school districts to help schools in the region to do just that!
Capital Region Farm to School Monthly Online Network Meetings
New this school year will be monthly opportunities for anyone engaged with or interested in the Capital Region Farm to School Hub to connect, learn and share with one another. October 25th, at 3:45pm, will mark our first meeting, during which we will have a presentation from teacher Laura-Lyn Helton from Colquitz Middle School. Colquitz Middle School currently runs the largest middle school salad barn in our region. Laura-Lyn has been running the salad bar for 4 years. This month will be the school’s 50th salad bar celebration. Along with their salad bar, the school has been working hard to build a school garden which will support hands on learning. If you are in the Capital Region or are interested in learning more about the amazing Farm to School work happening at Colquitz Middle School, register yourself to attend the Network meeting here.
Story from the Field: City Harvest Cooperative
In line with this years’ Farm to School Month theme, City Harvest Cooperative is going the extra mile to help Capital Region schools to Think & Eat Local @ School.
Running a school garden can be a very exciting and rewarding undertaking, however they can also be a lot of hard work! From knowing how and when to plant, to ensuring gardens are maintained in the summer months. City Harvest Cooperative, a Victoria collective of local farmers, is working with Vic High School and Reynolds Secondary School in a creative way to provide students with hands-on learning experiences in the garden, connecting them directly to their food source. The beauty of this relationship is that these programs are self-sustaining.
City Harvest farmers hold weekly work parties at Vic High and Reynolds Secondary during which any class can sign up to participate. These work parties teach the students urban farming skills and the business side of farming, while tending to crops. With this model, City Harvest is able to grow high enough yields for the school to use some of the produce in their salad bar programs. To sustain the program, City Harvest also sells some of the produce to local restaurants and in their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Box program. As a result, City Harvest is able to continue to come back to the schools week after week, delivering urban growing workshops.
Heather Parker from City Harvest says “It’s great to see how students are building knowledge related to their local food system”. Without the support of community members, the school district, the schools itself (including champion teachers and administration), projects like these would just be a dream. Through collaboration, Vic High and Reynolds are making these dreams realities.
To learn more about how to support this project, contact Aaren Topley firstname.lastname@example.org
Animator Reflection: Aaren Topley, Capital Region F2S Community Animator
School is kicking off to a great start. Over the past two years, I have been working closely with School District 61 to support schools in developing their own unique local school food systems. One of the key partners in this work is District 61 staff – I have been impressed by the amount of buy-in and support from each person I meet in the school district. Staff, board members, facilities, teachers, principals, parents, students and everyone in between is keen to explore innovative ways that the school district can bring hands-on learning and healthy local food into schools.
Is your school already thinking and eating local? Add them to Canada’s School Food Map.
To celebrate Farm to School Month and for a chance to win $1500, send Farm to Cafeteria Canada a photo and a 500 word story describing how your school is Thinking & Eating Local @ School – between October 1st to 31st! Follow the link to submit your photo and story.