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Farm to School Sprouting in Canada

Farm to School Sprouting in Canada
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Good ideas have a way of spreading like a healthy virus. October is National Farm to School Month, and although it celebrates U.S. initiatives, Canadian communities are catching this virus too.

That’s none too soon. In “School Lunch”, a new video from Nourish, Michael Pollan says, “Most school lunch programs in America are a scandal.” Canada, on the other hand, has the dubious distinction of being the only G8 country without a national school lunch program.

Community nutritionists with grit and persistence have refused to accept that status quo. In 2001, Debbie Field, Executive Director of Toronto’s Food Share, launched a salad bar program in city schools. She was inspired by the Farmers’ Market Fresh Fruit and Salad Bar she visited in a Santa Monica school and brought the idea north.

A colleague in British Columbia, Joanne Bays, envisioned launching the program in her home province. Dream became reality in 2007 with the launch of the first Farm to School Salad Bar Pilot Project at Dragon Lake Elementary School in Quesnel, B.C. Of that first successful year, Bays says:

I would like to acknowledge the power of a dream.
We have a lot of dreamers in our movement but I would like to pay tribute to Michelle Lessard, affectionately dubbed the Farm to School Fairy Godmother. She must have sprinkled some kind of magic dust on that first pilot program because  it is still going strong – 4 years later. The clamour of 200 children as they line up twice a week to feast on a salad bar of local greens is a marvel to behold. That magic has found its way to more than 50 different communities in BC. And soon we hope to see it sparkle in the eyes of children coast to coast.


Children excited about vegetables — now there is a sight to make anyone believe in the possibility of change. Here is the way Bays describes Farm to School Salad Bar:

The Farm to School Salad Bar concept is refreshingly simple! A relationship is developed between a school and local farms. Foods are grown, harvested, processed and served up in a salad bar twice per week in participating schools….Children, parents, school staff, farmers – whole communities – benefit from a program that broadens knowledge and experiences growing, harvesting, preparing and tasting fresh local greens.

B.C.’s health sector has provided the largest share of dollars for the program. Funding partners have included the Ministry of Health, B.C. Healthy Living Alliance, the Public Health Association of B.C., and the province’s regional health authorities.

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First Photo of Dragon Lake Elementary from Farm to School, Second Photo from adactio via Flickr Creative Commons

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11:06AM PST on Nov 9, 2011


12:17AM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

Thanks for the article.

3:20PM PDT on Oct 17, 2011

If they grow it...they will most likely eat it.

10:00AM PDT on Oct 17, 2011

When kids have an opportunity to get actively involved in gardening - from seed to plant to 'fruit' - they adore consuming (and sharing) the results of their labour. Giving them free reign (with appropriate adult supervision, depending on their ages) in the kitchen is the next step to showing kids what food is about.

9:55AM PDT on Oct 17, 2011

My daughter, who's now a 27-year-old vegan by choice, loved fresh, raw, cut veggies for snack all through her daycare and school lunch years, as did all her friends. She never took a shine to cooked veg - but who cares? Peanut butter in the crevice of cut celery was her idea, and a homemade seasoned yogurt dip makes any snack a treat.

5:31PM PDT on Oct 15, 2011

I think today's children can be very food savvy if given the opportunity. They will pick healthy food if given the option. I know 10 year olds who love Indian food and Thai food. I think all children deserve to be well fed with a variety of healthy food.

It would be wonderful to see edible gardens in every school yard

2:00PM PDT on Oct 15, 2011

This is wonderful news, there is nothing like fresh produce, and good to hear that children are getting excited about fruits and vegetables.

1:03PM PDT on Oct 15, 2011


1:03PM PDT on Oct 15, 2011


12:23PM PDT on Oct 15, 2011

Is it any surprise to anyone that as more and more resources are stripped from public education, that the level of service public schools offer suffers?

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