Spring arrived with gusto on the South Coast, and all across the region teachers and students are cleaning out their beds, sowing their seeds, and heading outside… it’s time to “Ready, set, GROW!”
The F2S Vancouver Area regional hub spans Vancouver, the North Shore and Richmond. Across all four school districts, students are engaging with food, gardens, and the broader food community in creative ways that are fostering food literacy and healthy eating habits.
Photo: Lori Snyder
Many Schools in Vancouver use gardens as a way to connect students to food and nature. At Dr. A.R. Lord Elementary in Vancouver, the kindergarten class inspected the garden and made plans for a new growing season. The lavender survived the cold, spuds in tubs have been planted, and the students are ready to get their hands in the soil!
Photo: The Inclusion Project blog
Field trips are another way to connect youth with our regional food and agriculture system. Students from Richmond Secondary School were hosted by the Richmond Food Security Society at the Sharing Farm, for a field trip to learn about food production!
Schools and students also engage in advocacy; the Great Big Crunch on March 8 was a chance for students to celebrate and join a coast-to-coast movement for healthy food in schools! At the Cheakamus Centre, grade 4 students from North Vancouver’s Lynmour Elementary School and Upper Lynn Elementary School joined 300,000 crunchers from around the province, country and beyond to promote healthy school food. Check out the video on the Cheakamus Centre Facebook page.
Teachers are also exploring opportunities to engage students with place-based, hands-on learning about food, agriculture and our local ecosystems. Farm to School Learning Circles bring teachers together from across the region to share ideas, opportunities and resources for their school food programs. In January, teachers met at Tupper Secondary School for a dandelion root-infused vinegar workshop with Lori Snyder. In February, teachers met at Laura Secord Elementary School for some pro “fail-proof gardening” tips from Master Gardeners volunteer James Spears!
Teachers and community partners from over 10 schools harvested dandelion and took home their own vinegar infusion, with guidance and teachings from herbalist Lori Snyder. Photo: Sam Gambling
On the North Shore, West Vancouver Schools teachers also hosted their first local learning circle at Sentinel Secondary School to discuss their school garden programs, identify common needs, share local resources, and find ways to work together. We were gifted with student-made seed packages and starters to get us excited about the Spring!
The West Vancouver learning circle brought together teachers from seven different schools across the district, to share updates and stories from their own school garden programs. Photo: Sam Gambling
Looking for other opportunities to engage with the F2S community?
- Farm to School Learning Circles provide a physical space for teachers, school staff, parents, students and other school community members to network with others who are passionate about healthy, local school food systems; share stories, resources and ideas for Farm to School programs; collaborate on projects, and more. Learning circles will take place once a month until June 2019, and our next learning circle is April 15, 2019. Stay tuned through our listserv and Farm to School BC Facebook page!
- If you’re a teacher, parent, staff member or school food organization looking for food donations to supplement an existing cooking/meal program, you can sign up as a “Donation Station” partner at one of the winter markets this season. Contact Sam at email@example.com for details.
- Looking for field trip or family outing ideas in the Vancouver area? Check out the new balcony garden exhibit at Science World, featuring an impressive display by Lifespace Gardens and GardenWorks, and get inspired to grow food in small spaces.
- If you’re looking for perennials for your school garden, the Native Plant Nursery program at Suwa’lkh School now has berry bushes and other plants for sale: inquire to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Interested in learning some new skills and ideas to bring back to the classroom? The UBC Farm hosts a wide range of workshops covering everything from gardening to herbal medicine, making fiber, fermenting, foraging, and much more. All workshops are beginner friendly and open to everyone!
- The Vancouver School Board is hosting a series of Indigenous Education workshops during the second week of April, including a Traditional Plant Knowledge workshop on April 11 with Plant Diva Cease Wyss.