News From The Region
Spring has arrived and growth is on the horizon for Vancouver Island!
Farm to School B.C. is proud to announce the creation of a new regional F2S hub: Nanaimo North.
The Nanaimo North region will encompass the mid-island, including Port Alberni, and the surrounding geographical area. Six schools were awarded grants in the region, and will be supported by our Regional Animator Marcus Lobb.
Marcus, who joined the Farm to School team this past fall, comes to us with a wealth of experience in urban agriculture, school gardens, and curriculum development. He helped us in combing through nearly 100 Farm to School grant applications, of which nearly 50 received funding for the 2017 intake period. Congratulations to the schools who were successful in their applications! In Nanaimo, this includes John Barsby Secondary, Georgia Ave Elementary, Departure Bay Elementary, Brechin Elementary, and Coal Tyee Elementary. Port Alberni school Maquinna Elementary was the lone grant recipient from the Alberni region.
One factor that made funding the schools in Nanaimo especially intriguing was their community connections. Four of the schools created a partnership with Nanaimo Foodshare, a local food security organization, to develop and launch an interactive new program by the name of SOIL-LIT KITS. These kits are designed with the new curriculum and teachers in mind. Noting that many teachers find themselves uncomfortable when engaging with outdoor learning spaces, and school gardens, Foodshare has designedthese physical kits for all levels of knowledge. The kits will cover topics such as Ecosystems of Compost, Plants and Seeds, Soil and Water, and Insect Communities!
Each kit will come in a box with a lesson plan, and materials needed for the activities. A box will be available for each season, and will be distributed quarterly.
John Barsby Secondary School in Nanaimo has had one of the largest and most beautiful gardens we have had the chance to visit. A mixture of raised beds, fruit trees, herbs and soon to be hugle mounds. The garden which is nearly 20 years old has been rejuvenated under the leadership of local farmer-educator Chris Brown and Community School Coordinator Basia Henoch.
Not only has Chris brought students out to the garden for workshops, but he has been teaching students about cooking and healthy eating. When I visited the school and met with him, he served me goose tacos, which I have to say, were very delicious. Chris will continue to work with the team at John Barsby this coming year, and is currently planning an incredible Earth Day Event that will be hosted at the school on Saturday April 21st. The event will feature many local growers and community members who are working towards the health of the planet.
Port Alberni’s Maquinna Elementary received funding for the creation of their school garden, and also to help host a Farm to School Market Day.This full-day event will bring together multiple schools, farms, and health organizations to celebrate local food and healthy eating. The project is lead by two parents in the community, who are motivated to bring positive change to school food in the community. Local farm Healthy Harvest will also be hosting a school-to-farm visit that will be bringing students to the farm for a full day of learning and harvesting. Last year the event hosted over 200 students from 3 different schools in the city.
Earth Day Celebration
John Barsby School (550- 7th St. Nanaimo)
Games – Gardening – Kid Friendly – Farm Animals
School Garden Design Consultations Hosted by Farm to School B.C.
Various Schools in Port Alberni – Free
Saturday May 5th
Farm to School Week Port Alberni
Early June (TBD)
A week celebrating food, gardens, and healthy schools
Events to be hosted at Maquinna School and Healthy Harvest Farm
2018 will mark an exciting expansion of Farm to School initiatives moving up island, and into new communities. I look forward to working with our funded schools, and also learning about what other schools are doing in the region. Having had the opportunity to personally meet most of the school leads, I can say that the future is very bright. Since first being involved in school food and garden initiatives 8 years ago, I have been able to witness first hand the tremendous growth that this very important field has had. School gardens are becoming the norm at schools, and more and more schools are making connections to local farms. One of the most rewarding aspects of working with schools is to see how the changes affect the students.
Wishing all schools a successful growing season!