Capital Region Farm to School Blog
Even in these colder winter months, the Capital Region Farm to School Hub is busy. The winter time is a great opportunity for schools to reflect on their garden’s successes and challenges and take all the learnings to better plan for the coming spring. Farm to School breakfast and lunch programs are serving up a variety of local winter vegetables. With the winter being a time to reflect and plan, there a few projects the Capital Region Farm to School Hub is looking forward to.
Connecting with Local Farmers
This is a slower time of year for farmers, but it is an excellent opportunity to connect with farmers as they plan for the season. On Vancouver Island, we have many farmers to purchase from. One of the best ways to do this is to look at Island Farms Fresh Guide and see what farm is closest to you. If there are a few items you want to purchase each week for your school meal program, make sure to connect with the farmer. Request your orders soon as farmers may need to modify their growing plan to meet your order.
Victoria High School’s Farm
Vic High broke ground in November, creating School District 61’s first school farm. Students from Vic High will have the opportunity to learn from Jesse Brown at Mason St. Farm, where he will be able to share over decades worth of his farming experience to students. Beyond hands-on learning, students will grow food for their weekly salad bar, feeding the school healthy local food. If you walk past the school field you will notice a large tarp covering 5,000 square feet. This tarp will cover the field from now until the spring, where it will be warm the grass and weeds underneath, creating healthy soil to grow food from. In the spring 2018, there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony and the first crop will be planted. The Mason St. Farm and Vic High partnership will grow delicious local food for many years to come. CHEK TV did media coverage about the project on the garden expanson day.
Harvest4knowledge will be working with seven schools in School District 61 to bring native plant and traditional food knowledge into the minds, hearts and bellies of children and youth. This will be done through Indigenous plant gardens that have interpretative signage in both Lkwungen and English. To support the development of the interpretative signage Farm to School BC has hired Lkwungen Harvest4Knowledge Coordinator, “Seenupin” Edward Thomas. Edward Thomas is from the Xwsepsəm, Esquimalt Nation and is the son of hereditary Chief, “Seenupin” Andy. Edward is the Cultural Advisor for Esquimalt Nation and assists with cultural events and projects. Over the last three years, Edward learned Lekwəŋíŋən (Lkwungen) from Elder Elmer George of the Songhees Nation, who is the last fluent Lekwəŋíŋən speaker. Edward has worked with Elder Elmer George to transform his teachings into a hand written and digitally accessible language (via keyboard). To document the language, Edward has recorded the oral language from Elder Elmer George and integrated spoken words into Power Point presentations that allows learners to hear the language and see it written in Lekwəŋíŋən. This has allowed for an easy way to share and support Esquimalt and Songhees children and youth to start learning more about their own language. Edward feels that the Harvest4Knowledge project has a great opportunity to engage students in learning about traditional plant names and their uses, all while connecting people to the land. Farm to School BC is beyond thrilled to be working with Edward on the Harvest4Knowledge project in the Capital Region.
It has been one whirlwind since the start of the school year. We have taken on two new programs as a hub: Pro-D Days and Harvest4Knowledge. Check out the Capital Region’s fall blog to learn more about Pro-D Days. Both of these programs wouldn’t be made possible without our amazing and ever growing partnership with Whole Foods Market, School District 61 and Aboriginal Education, and Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation. I sit here in gratitude of all the amazing work each school has achieved and how active the community has been in supporting these projects.