Capital Region Farm to School Hub – Community Animator Spring Blog Post

Capital Region Farm to School Hub

Gulf Island Secondary School_AquiaponicsIn the Capital Region, we are lucky that schools are able to serve local food all year around. While school gardens for the most part are asleep, salad bar programs have been serving up delicious dishes, sourcing greens from greenhouses and root veggies from local farms and cold storages on Vancouver Island.

The Farm to School model has rippling impacts beyond the education of our next generation of leaders. When schools source local produce and products, they are also supporting the local food economy. We are building agriculture and farming skills in our youth for them to have as a future farmers, harvesters or just as a hobby.  By sourcing local food alongside their education,  students and schools are building local economic markets for future career paths. At Farm to School BC, we also love the fact that  fresh fruit and vegetable intake sources come from local provides. There is nothing better than a salad with greens harvested that day or an apple picked from the school yard no matter which way you slice it.

Capital Region Farm to School Monthly Online Network Meetings

The Capital Region has hosted two webinars highlighting some of the amazing work happening in our region. Last month, we hosted Sea to Sky Aquaponics who supports school in building a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water. Sea to Sky Aquaponics  offer educational programs that provide hands on learning opportunity relevant to the biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and industrial arts curriculums; it is a very practical way to apply what is taught in the school curriculum. In addition, students will learn about a sustainable form of agriculture and attain the skills to grow their own food. To learn more about Sea to Sky Aquaponics click HERE.

On February 22nd, we had Lifecycles Project Society present about their Growing School Program. For over 20 years, Growing Schools has been sowing seeds with elementary school children in Victoria, sharing knowledge and hands-on experience with the next generation of agricultural enthusiasts. Along with sharing knowledge from the program, Lifecycles will share about how to get involved in other aspects of the organization, such as Fruit Tree Project picks, the Seed Library and how to access school garden volunteers. To learn more about Lifecycles Project Society and how to get involved in their wide variety of local food programs click HERE.

Story from the Field: Edward Milne Infusing Home Economics with Local Food

Edward Milne

Patrick Gauley Gale is the Foods and Nutrition program teacher at Edward Milne Community School (grades 9 to 12) and takes a local food system perspective in his work. Sourcing local food is an important piece of the program. Students plan, prepare, tend and harvest produce from their school garden, greenhouse, mini orchard and land they reside on. Patrick’s students help bring local food to the entire study body. The food they harvest is used for both their Foods and Nutrition program and the Foods and Culinary Arts program, supporting a bountiful salad bar.

Students who take the program get to experience where their food comes from by participating in seasonal field trips, which include visiting farms, gardens, heritage livestock, orchards, forests, bakeries, and so much more. Through field trips and connecting with local producers and knowledge keepers, students learn about where their food comes and experience how to preserve it include pressing apples, taping maples, milling local flours, and dehydrate fruit and herbs. All of these experiences fold back into the program, allowing students to eat local food regularly.

Indigenous food systems and indigenous community engagement are an important part to understanding that food comes the land, water and sky; this is a learning from elders and knowledge in our region. Harvest and ethnobotany teachings and practices are essential to raise the next generation to become stewards of the environment that feeds them. Students who take Patrick’s class are not only building knowledge to become future food system leaders, they are getting the experience to try new foods, and appreciate the importance of local food.  

Animator Reflection: Aaren Topley, Capital Region F2S Community Animator

Farm to SchoolCelebration EventIt has been a busy couple of months in the Capital Regions. Schools are scaling up their programs and more schools are becoming interested in sourcing local food. In February, I had the opportunity to present to our region’s THESA (Teachers of Home Economics Specialist Association). It is inspiring to see Home Economics teachers excited about getting local food into their program and building students’ knowledge about their local food system. It never ceases to amaze me about how passionate our region is to bring local food into schools.

Spring is a time for celebration of the outdoor world blooming to life. To celebrate, we are hosting our region’s second Farm to School Celebration on Thursday, May 25th at Colquitz Middle School. Learn and share about how schools are getting fresh local food to students and get to try a salad bar put on by Colquitz Middle School. To register for the celebration click HERE.