Vancouver Regional Hub Highlights
Many of Britannia Secondary School’s garden beds have been put to sleep for the winter, but you can still spy life sprouting from all corners. Photo: Samantha Gambling
Happy new year! Winter has fully settled into the soil, calling us to slow down, rest, and reflect. While it’s challenging to carve out time in our fast-paced society to honour this natural rhythm, one can find simple solace by going outside. Taking a slow, mindful walk in the garden can help us reconnect to our own seasonal needs and changes. In turn, this can give space to new ideas, understandings, and resolutions.
Indeed, winter holds many opportunities to leave the classroom and engage with our local food systems in the mild West Coast. Whether it is hands-on learning through observing, harvesting, food processing, or garden planning, now is a good time to take a step back and re-connect with the land and your neighbours, including your local elders and farmers.
Plants are still growing in these rainy conditions, and many can be found right outside your classroom door. Check out Elise Krohn’s Wild Foods and Medicines resource for more information about our coastal native species. Please respect the 4R’s when harvesting: respect, reciprocity, relevance and responsibility. We recommend that you request guidance from an experienced community member, and follow best practices – see Elise’s tips before you harvest.
Connecting with Farmers in the Vancouver Area
Winter is not only a break for our food gardens, but also for our local farmers! Across the region, many farmers have put their fields to rest and are ordering seeds and planning for their 2018 season. Are you interested in ordering specific vegetables for your salad bar this spring, or finding other ways to procure healthy, local foods for your Farm to School programs? Now is the time to reach out! Here are a few options to connect:
- The Vancouver Urban Farming Society is a great resource for those who want to connect with their neighbouring farms, whether it’s to plan field trips, volunteer farming shifts, or to pre-order food for the 2018 season. For further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Teachers and school food program coordinators who are looking to procure some local, fresh produce for their classroom or F2S program can sign up as a “Donation Station” recipient at a Vancouver farmers market! Recipients are required to staff a booth for the duration of the market, where you can accept cash and produce donations from shoppers and farmers, and share information about your Farm to School program with the community. Contact email@example.com for more information.
- The North Shore and Burnaby Farmers’ Markets are also seeking to partner with schools to collect and use donated produce from farmers (note: schools must be able to transport this produce and provide a receipt). In exchange, the market would like a couple of student volunteers to staff a recycling/sorting station, and offer a children’s activity at the market (materials provided). There is also an opportunity to fundraise for your school, as schools can sell products made by students. This can spark the entrepreneurial spirit of your students, as items are grown, made, baked, raised, or wild harvested by students. Please go to ca/become-a-vendor to apply, and identify yourself as a Farm to School partner.
- Are you looking to introduce students to small local business owners, local food, and artisans? The indoor Artisan Farmers’ Markets has three market locations open on the weekends from May to October. During the school year, the market runs on weekends from December – April, at the Lonsdale Quay Market in North Vancouver. Supplement your classroom teaching by sending class members into the community to speak with a business owner at a weekend market, bring your whole class to Lonsdale Quay Market for the day to enjoy a lesson in the local economy while enjoying sweeping views, or send students on a produce treasure hunt to see what’s in season. The markets have a number of Power of Produce, PoP Club, and Children’s Activities, so please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
There are some great things in store for the Farm to School Vancouver Area regional hub in 2018. Here’s what we’re looking forward to:
- Nine schools have been selected to receive funding for an Indigenous Foodscapes grant program in the City of Vancouver. This program will include workshops and field trips on Indigenous food practices and cultures, native plant gardening, and connection/celebration with the community. Congratulations to Queen Mary Elementary, Dr. AR Lord Elementary, Xpey Elementary, Sir Charles Kingford-Smith Elementary, Vancouver Technical Secondary, Grandview Elementary, Nightingale Elementary, Queen Alexandra Elementary, and Thunderbird Elementary Schools. The Farm to School Vancouver Area Hub team is excited to work with these schools over the next two years to build “living libraries” of native plants on school grounds, and to integrate Indigenous food system practices and philosophies into their classrooms.
Representatives from the nine Vancouver schools who received funding through the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City Grant to develop Indigenous Foodscapes projects.
- Farm to School Learning Circles offer a space where teachers, administration, parents and program coordinators can engage in facilitated discussions and activities about food and gardening, gain knowledge, confidence and ideas for growing and sustaining their Farm to School activities, share stories and learn about other Farm to School programs in the neighbourhood, identify and resolve challenges, work on collaborative projects, meet other Farm to School leaders and participants in the neighbourhood, and strengthen the local F2S network. Regular winter learning circles are offered for schools in the Grandview-Woodland and Little Mountain Riley Park neighbourhoods. Many thanks to TEGS and Whole Foods for financially contributing to these learning circles.
- There are also opportunities for professional development related to food and gardens:
- Vancouver Pro-D workshop on February 19 at UBC Farm
- West Vancouver Pro-D workshop on January 26
- School Garden Ecology workshop on February 23 at Van Dusen Botanical Garden
- Healthy Teachers Classes, hosted by Whole Foods Market (date and location TBD)
This year has already offered some amazing new opportunities to re-connect with the land and community. I’m grateful for all our partners, new and old, who are expanding the concept and reach of Farm to School programming in our community. A huge thanks to the schools who opened their doors during Farm to School month, to everyone who has come together to advise and contribute to the Indigenous Foodscapes working group, and to my Farm to School team who has provided support to the region from across the province. I’ve got nothing but optimism for 2018 and am thrilled to be working with you all!