The goal of our Farm2School project was to enable students to take an active role in growing, harvesting and preserving food from our community garden. Previously, the community garden was located a few blocks away from the school. Access for classes was challenging and as a result, only a couple of classes were active at the garden. We have been fortunate this year to have the community garden change locations and move to a large piece of property adjacent to the school grounds. This resulted in the entire primary end of our school (8 divisions) actively working along side the garden volunteers and facilitator. Together they prepped new garden beds by moving soil, picking rocks, weeding, filling raised garden beds, and covering pathways with woodchips. The students thrive in the open-air experiences and push themselves to do hard physical work. The students know that once the work is complete for the day they are able to have playtime in the “Mud Kitchen.” This is a time for imaginative culinary play.
The classes have been learning about types of seeds, germination, and plant identification in weekly one-hour sessions with a local horticulturalist. Recently, many of the classes have been able to sample some of the produce grown (varieties of lettuce, kale, and chives) in individual class salad bars. The students enjoyed washing, spinning dry and preparing the salads. Many of the children had never had the opportunity to try salad fresh from a garden and were also given the opportunity to try feta cheese and make their own balsamic vinaigrette.
As the school year winds down, we are sad to put our learning on hold. We have asked parents of our students to volunteer with the garden (watering and picking berries) over the summer. That way it may help the entire family get the opportunity to become more interested in growing their own food. We look forward to harvesting and preserving our carrots, beets, potatoes and leeks in the fall. Classes will be learning how to dehydrate some foods and how to make smoothies and soups. We will also be implementing a compost program that will help to get rid of organic food waste from the school.
Involvement in the school garden is a perfect way to instill pride in the students and a connectedness to the foods they eat. We have only just begun this journey and can’t wait to get started again in the fall.