Our Big dream
QEA Farm to School’s program started with a focus on nutrition education and food skill building. Our idea was to develop and enhance the students’ understanding of food and healthy eating through creative, hands on learning. We have used the expertise of community partners and parent volunteers to educate the students on gardening, nutrition and cooking activities in an effort to cut down costs. We have continued to grow and maintain our school garden (6 raised beds) harvesting, food safety and preparation and food sharing. The students have also had the opportunity to learn more about nutrition, food groups, meal planning and healthy snacks through fun and creative activities.
What we think we have accomplished….
We at QEA are very happy and proud of our achievements in the past year. Our entire community has been key to our success. The students have gained from both formal and informal lessons throughout the process.
With the Farm to School BC grant and help from parent volunteers, teachers and students, we have been able to get all the students involved in growing an edible food garden including planting, watering, harvesting, cooking and sharing. We are in the planning stages of building a bee and butterfly garden, which will further enhance our students’ knowledge about pollination. We have also been successful in implementing school wide composting measures. In the process, we have received a positive feedback from our school board who sees this as a great model as to what a school garden should look like.
With a successful farm to school program we have also been able to motivate our student and parent community to “Adopt a plot” during summer months when school is not in session. Parents and students continue to weed water and maintain the garden plots during this time and harvest the produce.
Our students are now more open to trying new vegetables. We have also triggered their culinary skills by preparing simple salads and salad dressings in school.
What our students think we have accomplished…
“I love Farm to School because we make lots of salads and I really love eating them.”- Ella
“I love Farm to School because we go to the garden to get Swiss chard and the we eat it.”- Paul
“I love Farm to School because we eat salads and I love salads. The salads we make are delicious.”- Hayley
“I love Farm to School because the food is really good.”- Oliver
I love Farm to School because…
What our parent community thinks we have accomplished…
“M loves participating in Farm to School. He loves it because it involves physically interacting with the school garden and making tasty food from it. He talks about the vegetables he tries, and asks me to buy them and make the recipes. I get him to make them! He is proud to teach me how to make them, saying things like, “you have to include the red stems because they’re really tasty!”, and “you don’t want to waste this part of the plant, so you can…” (I don’t remember the details, but it involved making something else out of it). Previously M mostly showed interest in baking treats, so the interest in vegetables is very much appreciated!” – Andrea, parent.
“L’s idea about fresh/raw vegetables has changed since the start of the Farm to School program. She is more open to trying new vegetables and the program has had a positive impact on packed lunches”. – Megumi, parent
As with every new project, we have had our fair share of hiccups and challenges. Our vision, when we started the program, was to complement our existing hot lunch program with a salad bar using local food sources with the help of our students. Physical space has been a challenge in our small school this past year. However, we will continue to work towards making this dream of ours a reality in the near future.
A majority of our students are making healthy food choices with lunch and snack options since the start of the program, but we do believe more work needs to be done for continued lifestyle changes. The majority of growing season is when school is not in session; we will need to have a better strategy so our student and parent community stays motivated to “adopt a plot”.
So far we have tried to use up the produce from our own garden as much as possible. Winter months have been a challenge although we have had a good harvest of some hardy greens. In order to make the program more sustainable, we will also be working hard to establish successful partnerships with other local farms and suppliers.
The Farm to School grant has enabled our students, staff, teachers and community to be a part of maintaining our school garden. We believe we have successfully triggered our students’ interest in gardening, growing and cooking. Students remain enthusiastic about caring for the garden. With the help of the grant we have been able to grow many vegetables including parsnips, radish, carrots, snap peas, fava beans, beets, chard, kale and much more.
We are very excited to put our “mobile cooking kit” (includes a kitchen cart on wheels fully loaded with hot plates, cooking utensils and small appliances) to good use in the coming years. All the equipment and utensils in the cooking kit was purchased with the funds from the farm to school grant, for which we are grateful. Special thanks to all the parent, teacher and staff volunteers who put in their time and effort in making this program successful.