The Farm To School Grant for Maquinna Elementary School in Port Alberni was essentially split into two separate projects.

The first was the creation of a School Garden.  We started by laying out all the details in a Project Proposal and sending it off to SD70 Operations.  Once the plan was approved, we leveled the land and held a couple of work bees with teachers and parent volunteers to build 4 raised cedar beds, fill them with topsoil and surround the beds with pea gravel.  At this point the garden looks amazing and over the summer months SD70 will install a fence and gate to keep the garden protected.  There have been lots of positive discussions at the school around what to plant, when and how to use the space and once school is back we’ll start with a fall garden and then get ready for some serious sprint planting.  At this time, we’d also like to implement a composting program to utilize the two compost bins that were donated by our local Regional District.

The second project that we undertook was to plan a Farm To School Market for our students, staff and parents. The goal of this event was to bring some awareness and education to the school community about farming, healthy eating and local produce. After much planning, asking for some community donations and making 500 homemade freezies we were ready to host our event in the third week of June.  The event started after lunch with students coming through in half hour time slots and doing a number of stations.  There was a seed planting table, a craft table where we created a giant farm poster, a rainbow banner to show how we eat in colour, an interactive local foods display, a demonstration about sugary drinks table and a blind taste test for the older students.  Then after school we opened up the gym and surrounding areas to students with their parents and had some of the same stations available as well as a whole lot more. We gave 100 families our Market Soup To Go, which is a recipe and all the ingredients for a Hearty Lentil Soup to make at home. There was also a traditional foods table where people could sample bannock & jam, smoked salmon, deer sausage and more to celebrate Aboriginal Day.  There was also Three Farm Vendors on hand selling their produce, plants and natural products and chatting everyone up about what they grow in their garden and where to hit up the best Farmer’s Markets.  One of these vendors even brought a special door prize that was a sample of a locally grown food box that we plan to sell in the fall as a fundraiser. During the event we also gave out the homemade freezies, slices of watermelon, apples and roasted chickpeas. There were some outdoor stations with bubbles, sidewalk chalk, a giant Plinko game where kids won a small package of seeds, giant farm bean bag toss and kids yoga.  All in all this was a very well received event, with a great turnout, lots of great connections and hands on learning opportunities for students and we look forward to hosting it again next year.