Nanaimo Region Update
Four schools in the region have created a partnership with Nanaimo Foodshare to trial their Soil Lit Kit learning modules. The kits, which were designed by Foodshare, are aimed to get more teachers involved in school food and plant based learning practices. Soil science, insects, plant growth are just a few of the ideas that will be included in these kits. So far the program has been launched at Brechin, Georgia Ave, Coal Tyee, and Departure Bay.
Our other school, John Barsby has been very busy lately. They hosted an incredible Earth Day held in late April with over 1500 people in attendance! The day was hosted in partnership with local farmer-champion Chris Brown, who brought together an abundance of volunteers and local producers for the event. A petting zoo, live music, and all different types of speakers and demonstrations highlighted this amazing Earth Day.
Following their Earth Day celebrations, the school was given the go-ahead to build their formidable deer fencing around their truly impressive (and huge) schoolyard learning garden.
Community School Coordinator Basia Henoch, along with Farmer Brown have been busy planning and encouraging the growth of the garden, with classes learning about food production, and permaculture on school grounds.
In Nanaimo, we have also created a small advisory committee to support the development of Farm to School BC activities in the region. The advisory committee, which is made of local educators, farmers and supportive community members will meet four times a year, and will help offer insight and direction to the Farm to School BC Animator. The committee will meet next week for the first time, with a special thanks to Chrys LoScerbo, the SOIL Lit Kit project manager for hosting the meeting, and helping us identify potential advisory committee members.
Over in Port Alberni, we have been working closely with Maquinna Elementary School to help them develop their school garden, and also help them plan their exciting Farm to School Day. The garden has been approved, and will begin construction in the fall, for a 2019 launch. The garden will be made up of four beds, along with a small rainwater catchment, and composting system.
A great deal of support has poured in with donations coming from multiple organizations and businesses, including wood donations, pea gravel, seeds, and composting bins! Our Animator Marcus Lobb will be meeting with the school staff shortly to discuss ways in which they can engage their classes with the garden. He is also helping them to plan a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) vegetable box fundraiser that will take place in the fall. The one-time event will connect the school with local farm Healthy Harvest, and will sell veggies baskets to staff and parents in order to raise funds for the school garden. The model is based off of Montreal Organization Equiterre, and their “Schools Take Root” program.
In other exciting news, Maquinna hosted their first ever Farm to School event on June 21.
A full day event that celebrated local food, healthy eating, and gardening! Many partners were involved in the event, and a huge shout-out should be given to parent Kristi Wolff who has been the mastermind behind the planning event. Animator Marcus Lobb hosted a blindfolded food tasting station, which was one of many activities that the kids enjoyed. After school,the gym was transformed into a mini farmers’ market, with Healthy Harvest selling some of their produce. It was a wonderful day!
I have been so impressed by the community that has emerged to support Maquinna Elementary, many other individuals have been involved to make this event come together: Genevieve (Food Hub Coordinator), Helene (Dietician Island Health), Sarah (Teacher), Jennifer (Parent), Rosemarie (SD70 Trustee). I would like to thank them all for meeting each month since the winter to help support the school in this process. I also would like to thank Healthy Harvest manager Anna Lewis for making time in her busy schedule to join us on this fun day!
The summer is going to bring some time to reflect and prepare for the first full year of the Nanaimo North Regional Food Hub, and my role as the Animator. I expect to see great progress and developments in both Nanaimo and Port Alberni, and cannot wait to help support these initiatives.