Farm to School BC – Vancouver Regional Hub Summer Blog 2018

F2SVA Summer2018 Blog: Farm to School In Review

Sun’s out, and so are the veggies! It’s been a bright, warm Spring in the Vancouver region, and our gardens have been buzzing with activity.

Vancouver and West Vancouver students, staff and teachers explored Britannia’s pollinator plants blooming at this year’s Spring Celebration (Photo: Vanessa Perrodou Photography)

While the sun is welcome, this year’s long, cold winter didn’t put a damper on F2SVA activities. In this blog post, I’m going to take a look back over the year at some of our amazing accomplishments as a hub, including new programs, partnerships, and pedagogies across the region. Take a look at our highlights from the 2017/2018 school year:

Indigenous Foodscapes:

Native Infusion” artwork by Indigenous artist Joe Seymour brings a powerful and integrated message around healthy eating and drinking, traditional foods, and cultural empowerment. (Photo: F2SVA Hub; Text: Chatwin Books)

This year, the F2SVA Hub launched an Indigenous Foodscapes project to bring native plants and traditional food practices to the hearts, minds and bellies of students and their school communities. Nine schools in the City of Vancouver received Indigenous Foodscapes funding earmarked for workshops, field trips, celebrations, and to develop or expand native plant gardens on school grounds.


Environmental Youth Alliance’s Native Plant Nursery Program supplied Indigenous Foodscapes schools with free native plants this Spring (Photo: EYA)

This project is funded by the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City Grant, the Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General’s Civil Forfeiture Grant and Ministry of Health. It involves partnerships with many organizations and individuals across the Vancouver area. Thank you to the Environmental Youth Alliance and Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society for providing native plants and workshops to school gardens through your native plant nursery programs; to Net Zero Waste for your donation of compost to schools; to Vancouver School Board for your unwavering support and contribution to this project; to the students of UBC’s Land and Food Systems program for your work recording Indigenous food assets on school grounds across the city; and to the many, diverse members of the Indigenous Foodscapes Working Group for your input, advice, and partnerships. Thank you to the teachers and VSB staff, parents, students and community partners for your willingness and passion to learn, share, and connect through this work. Most notably, thank you to the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations on whose unceded territories we reside, and whose traditional food cultures and practices we are exploring and sharing. We conduct this work with humility and gratitude.

Jess Henry (EYA), Gray Orion (Fresh Roots’ Suwa’lkh School partnership), and Lori Snyder (F2SVA Indigenous Foodscapes Project) taught a native plant propagation workshop to Vancouver teachers in May. Stay tuned for additional workshops to support alternative pedagogical tools for those teaching Indigenous content, developed in partnership with VSB and UBC Master’s student Thanu Eagalle(Photo: F2SVA Hub)

The F2SVA team and Indigenous Foodscapes Working Group members are looking forward to seeing this project grow next year, providing more opportunities for professional development workshops, developing signage for native plant gardens, partnering with local First Nations, and connecting with our land, food and community.

F2SBC grants

Three schools in the Vancouver Area were awarded F2SBC grants this year. Congratulations to Archibald Blair Elementary and Homma Elementary in Richmond, and Rockridge Secondary in West Vancouver! These schools are creating new composting units and buying supplies for their gardens, and bringing in experts to support professional development work in the garden.

Schools who have received previous F2SBC grants are also continuing to learn and expand their programs. You can read all about past and current F2SBC programs on our website.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I really hesitated to ask because shoveling dirt and manure seemed like a lot to ask. And yet, there were volunteers who came out in the rain to help get the job done. Putting the word out that the garden was here for others to come and tend, work in, water has brought out helpers – sometimes very surprising ones!” -Patricia Regan, Culinary Arts teacher at Tupper Secondary School, 2016/2017 F2SBC grant recipient (Photo: @Tuppercaf, Instagram)

Donation Stations

The Project CHEF team received over 60lbs of donated produce, from which they fed over 100 students, parents and staff at their In-Residents program at Tyee Elementary (Photo: Project CHEF)


This year, Farm to School supported three F2SVA network members to attend the Vancouver Winter Farmers Market as Donation Station recipients: The Intergenerational Landed Learning Program, Grandview Elementary, and Project CHEF. Learn more here about becoming a Donation Station recipient in the 2018/2019 school year to receive donations of local foods for your school food program.

“It’s been an empowering year with approximately 1,200 VSB students learning how to Cook Healthy Edible Food through Project CHEF, learning important, life-long skills like cutting, mixing, whisking, kneading, communication, and team work. Students, parents and educators gained a new appreciation for where their food comes from, with food sourced from our local farms and markets, as well as many school gardens!” – Sarah Lockman, Project CHEF.

Learning Circles

This year, the F2SVA Hub piloted “F2S Learning Circles” to offer a space for teachers, administration, parents and program coordinators to engage in facilitated discussions and activities about food and gardening, while gaining knowledge, confidence and new ideas for growing and sustaining their Farm to School activities. Regular learning circles were offered for schools in the Grandview-Woodland and Little Mountain Riley Park neighbourhoods. Learning Circles involved garden tours and demonstrations, seed give-aways, and lots of networking time with neighbouring teachers engaged in similar farm to school garden and cooking programs.

West Coast Seeds donated over 160 seed packages to the F2SVA Hub this year, supplying dozens of schools with diverse seeds for their gardens!

From the learning circles, five Grandview Woodland schools joined forces to pilot a “summer watering program”. In partnership with the Grandview Woodland Food Connection and Fresh Roots, summer students will be employed to tend to school gardens during the months of July and August, supporting the garden in the heart of growing season and preparing beds so that they’re full of veggies and ready to visit in September.

Stay tuned for next year’s learning circle dates and locations, including a new learning circle in North Vancouver, by joining the F2SVA Listserv. Email for details.

School visits

During the 2017/2018 school year, the F2SVA Community Animator was treated to garden tours, cooking competitions, student conferences and meetings with amazing school food and garden leaders across the region!

Students at Charles Dickens Elementary showed us their wildcrafting journals and dandelion hanging in the classroom to dry for teas and salves (Photo: F2SVA Hub)


Top: Students at St. George’s Academy made honey from beehives neighbouring the school grounds, and studied hive health in their science class. Bottom: students at Thunderbird Elementary pulled out carrots in celebration of Farm to School Month last October (Photo: F2SVA Hub)

F2SVA Spring Celebration

Raising our hands to good food for all! (Photo: Vanessa Perrodou Photography)

This year’s F2SVA Spring Celebration was a booming success! Over 100 people came together to eat, share and be merry in the mid-May heat wave. There was no shortage of amazing people to connect with – thank you to everyone who were able to come out, and to our amazing volunteers and participants hosting workshops, discussion tables, plant give-aways, displays and more! This was an event that built on and demonstrated the power of partnerships, a true display of the network in action. It was an inspiring and heart-filled event. See Vanessa Perrodou’s photographs for some images of the event in action.

2018 was the first year of our annual Pollinator Awards, recognizing Farm to School programs and school teams who act as pollinators within their community. These F2S teams buzz around their garden, kitchen and/or classroom to build healthy food systems. They transfer and share knowledge, fostering thriving learning environments. Team members support the development of young healthy “seeds”, who will grow up to one day offer the fruits of their labour back to the environment and community. Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners of the F2SBC Pollinator Awards!

Rockridge Secondary School received the 2018 Eager Bee Award. Over the past five years, Rockridge teachers and garden club students have developed an annual event called Eat, Learn, Lead. The event gives grade 5-10 students the opportunity to gain an understanding of how to eat and cook sustainably and the importance of eating local food. Eat, Learn, Lead also gives students a chance to learn about how to become leaders in their own community. This year, the event meal will be prepared primarily with food that wouldn’t be available without the pollination of bees! (Photo: Vanessa Perrodou Photography)


Charles Dickens Elementary School received the 2018 Queen Bee Award. At Charles Dickens, the students designed, built and installed a geodesic greenhouse on their rooftop garden to extend their growing season. They are also working towards planting a Native Food and Medicine garden at their school, taking field trips to Burns Bog and Richmond Nature Park, removing invasive species, making salves with Indigenous community members, and recording their learnings in wildcrafting journals and blogs to share with other classes.(Photo: Vanessa Perrodou Photography)


Vancouver Technical Secondary School received the 2018 Mason Bee Award. Van Tech is bringing innovation to garden based learning across the school, with a particular focus on Indigenous food systems. While they’ve hosted a school garden and native plant garden for several years, teachers and the Aboriginal Enhancement Team are now revitalizing the space and exploring new opportunities to make curricular connections, as well as involving new teachers and departments. Their focus includes bringing signage and student art into the space, so that more students learn of its existence and significance, while also exploring the medicinal and cultural uses of these plants as a means of connecting with traditional knowledge. (Photo: Vanessa Perrodou Photography)


John Norquay Elementary School received the 2018 Pollinator Award. John Norquay’s garden is a whole-school endeavour. Each year, about 15 classrooms at John Norquay manage and maintain the gardens, including 8 classrooms that engage in the SPEC School Gardens Program.Teachers bring their students out into the garden and plant seeds, grow food, and harvest the food for the end of school year harvest celebration.Two teachers run a garden club at lunch times for any interested students who aren’t involved in the garden in their classes. The school librarian is a trained carpenter and helped students construct trellises for the garden boxes. And in the summer, parents from the school to take turns during the summer to water the large school garden and harvest vegetables. (Photo: Vanessa Perrodou Photography)

Animator Reflection

It’s a true pleasure being a part of this community. The F2SVA network is an inspiring group of changemakers, working diligently to connect our region’s youth with food and community that nourishes their bodies, minds, and spirits. As a graduate of the North Vancouver School District myself, I can especially appreciate the efforts and changes that are apparent in our school systems: new gardens, courses and cultures developing at the school level; unprecedented efforts from school districts to support hands-on food systems education; and a growing network of school community members sharing their knowledge and skills with students, teachers, and staff. It’s clear that this region is full of passion and opportunity, and I’m grateful to support the work you’re all doing. See you again in September!