by Bonnie Klohn
Hello fall! It has been an exciting start to the school year. This is my first year as the Kamloops Region Farm to School BC Animator, and it has been a delight so far to learn more about how teachers and students are incorporating Farm to School into their classrooms, and what inspiring change can come about as a result.
Since starting in this role, I have had the opportunity to meet teachers, tour schools, and hear about the diverse projects that are coming from Farm to School programs in Kamloops and region. In this post, I will share a few examples of innovative food literacy projects I have seen, that take advantage of community resources and unique school assets.
Fall microgreens at Arthur Hatton Elementary.
One of the most impressive manifestations of accessing abundant community resources that I have seen this fall was a project that Brocklehurst Middle School foods teacher, Chante Reddeman has spearheaded. Her Food Sustainability class, in partnership with the Kamloops Food Policy Council Gleaning Abundance Project, participated in an apple harvest where 760 pounds of apples were picked in a mere 50 minutes! The class kept the vast majority of the apples and now they are setting to work dehydrating them in their professional grade dehydrator, cooking apple sauce, and making pies to sell for a fundraiser. It is amazing to see what a huge amount of food can be harvested with a class full of energetic and engaged students in under an hour, and further, to see how this work ultimately results in feeding more people, teaching students about food, and helping the program to achieve financial sustainability through fundraising.
Chante Reddeman and the 760 pounds of apples that were picked by students at Brock Middle School.
Apples and plums dehydrating at Brock.
Claire Covington, the grade 5 and drama teacher at Kamloops School of the Arts, has initiated another amazing program at her school. This school has been actively revitalizing their courtyard to make it a more inviting and vibrant space for their students for the past few years. The Farm to School program was part of the impetus behind creating more planter boxes and vegetable growing capacity in this courtyard. This past summer was the first growing season, and while the gardens were lovingly maintained by Claire during the summer, there were some challenges associated with gardening during a long vacation period. As a result, although the gardens were still full of life, the students were not able to benefit from some of the vegetables that were planted and ripened during the break. So Claire has completely revised the approach to the garden. Thinking strategically and with sustainability in mind, she has developed a “pickled carrot” garden model. This fall she will be planting garlic with her class, and then in the spring, the majority of the beds will be planted with “carrot tape”, which allows for the even spacing of carrot seed planting, so thinning is not necessary. She will also plant dill which is easy to grow in abundance, and come next fall, there will be everything needed for pickled carrots.
The future carrot beds of Kamloops School of the Arts.
Claire held a pilot project this past week where she involved her grade 5 class and their grade 1 reading buddies in partnering on peeling, parboiling and then canning the carrots. Both classes also took the time to create individual artist-made labels that are full of colour and fun. The plan is to sell the picked carrots at school concerts and events to raise money for expanding the garden project.
These are just a few of the amazing examples of ingenuity, abundance and creativity that I have seen in my short time as the animator. I am looking forward to continuing to learn and share more stories like this throughout the year on this blog and on social media.
My first year as an animator started with the annual gathering of the Farm to School BC team. It was a pleasure meeting this group of competent and inspired people that are also in the animator roles across the province. I learned a lot about PHABC and how Farm to School BC fits in with their wider mandate of improving health outcomes in BC and beyond.
Our gathering was held at O.U.R Ecovillage, near Duncan on Vancouver Island. Having the gathering at this location invited us to expand our thinking about what is possible when a group of people come together to make a positive change in their environment. At O.U.R Ecovillage, we learned about cob greenhouses that successfully extend the season enough to allow citrus (!) to grow, permaculture design systems that integrate greywater with food forests, and closed-loop waste systems such as composting toilets. O.U.R Ecovillage is an educational facility, and I was surprised at the breadth of what they teach. Not only do they offer full classes on their farming and building techniques, but the day we were visiting, they were hosting an anti-oppression workshop for teenagers.
This integrated approach to growing healthy food and growing healthy community opened my eyes to the possibilities for social change, and made me reflect more on the way that Farm to School brings students, teachers and the community together in a unique and important way. I look forward to reflecting more on this and other aspects of the Farm to School program as I continue to connect with amazing teachers, projects and kids in the Kamloops region.