More Farm Visits on the Horizon for the New School Year
Our Foundation’s vision is to help create a healthier generation through experiences that connect youth to the land and provide opportunities to improve communities in Canada. A variety of programs will lead us to that goal, but one that has really connected with children, educators, and schools across the country is outdoor learning with a focus on farm visits. As we enter the new school year, we’re proud to share updates on our continued partnerships that will help us reach youth who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to experience life on a farm, nor benefit from the insight of what it takes to grow food. Let’s review.
How We’re Helping Make a Difference in the Lives of Canadian Youth Through Farm Visits in the 2019-20 School Year
Expanding Our Reach
Our Foundation’s roots in outdoor learning are planted in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Through the support of its founding member, Natural Factors, we’ve been able to offer free farm visits to elementary schools in the Okanagan. Like seeds grow into crops to feed the others, our program’s reach must also expand to truly make a difference.
Last school year, we were able to provide four farm field trips to a total of six classes, reaching approximately 135 students, many of whom came from Ottawa’s lower-income populations. While many people worked behind the scenes to help make these amazing experiences happen, we certainly could not have done it without our collaboration with Growing Up Organic (GUO) and their relationships with Roots and Shoots and BeetBox organic farms. GUO partners with institutions to support the establishment of school garden programs as the basis for experiential education at all grade levels. Learn more about GUO here.
This year our partnership with Growing Up Organic aims to have 2-3 farm visits in the Ottawa, Ontario area. This initiative carries over from our funded program’s recent successes in the region. Through our partnership, farm field trips were made possible to the capital city’s Regina St. Public School, Connaught Public School, Robert E. Wilson Public School, and Gowling Public School. Teachers and elementary school students from Grade 2 to 6 benefited from these invaluable outdoor learning experiences. How? Let’s find out.
Proving the Benefits
The data backing the benefits of outdoor learning experiences (such as a farm visit) is undeniable. Children enjoy more than a day away from an indoor classroom. The experience heightens cognitive performance, improves physical health, and enhances social development. If you want to learn more about these benefits click here, and for information resources on the matter click here. In today’s feature, we’d rather you hear from the teachers and young students themselves:
Teacher, Connaught Public School
“Students, particularly those living in urban areas, have become disconnected from the land and unfamiliar with the real source of their food. Many students cannot identify locally grown produce, let alone have had the opportunity to taste fresh from the farm foods. For my students, many of whom are new immigrants, or who live in economically challenging circumstances, this is particularly true. For these reasons, a trip to a local, organic, operational farm was an invaluable learning experience. Through this hands-on experiential learning opportunity, my students not only connected to the land, but to a person, a farmer. They enjoyed learning about farming and caring for the land from Danny, and they were thrilled to have the opportunity to help harvest from his fields. The kids worked hard to pick beets with Danny, and felt very proud of their efforts. These feelings of pride were matched only by the joy the kids felt as they delivered vegetables to our neighbours at the Parkdale Food Centre food bank… a gift from Danny, and another valuable lesson from him in caring for each other.”
Teacher, Gowling Public School
“Farmer Jeremy gave us the tour of this first year cooperative farm in the Ottawa greenbelt. We visited the greenhouse, the fields and the chickens. The students were very excited to help the farmers out by preparing tomato trellis and weeding the onions. Many of our students have never visited a farm and it was so great for the students to have a chance to visit a local farm”.
Kai, Grade 5 student
“Last Friday, our class went to Roots and Shoots organic farm. When we got there we played a game with Danny. Then, we ate lunch outside the barn. After that Danny led us to a white inflatable looking greenhouse. Danny undid a latch on the greenhouse. We entered the greenhouse. He said that he always keeps the temperature at 15 degrees Celsius. Also he has pipes that water the plants from in the soil and a system to lower the crops. Danny is a really nice man. I feel bad for him he gave us so much yet we haven’t given back. […] Going to the farm brought back good times. Like driving a truck in Alberta spreading cow food with my papa.”
Vick-Ann, Grade 4 student
“I was proud of trying the dinosaur kale. It was just like broccoli but like a leaf. […] I was grateful and happy and excited for this trip. That was my first time being there. They grow a lot of vegetables and that’s good. This trip was once in a life time. I was proud of everybody participating.It was so fun playing the wind blows that was a game that I never played before. We found some beautiful eggs from the chickens. And that was a good day at Roots and Shoots farm.”
Help Us Help the Children
Teachers, educational institutions, and our partners are essential pieces of the Foundation’s work. However, another party is critical to bringing important outdoor learning experiences to deserving young students – you! Without your help, we will not be able to expand our reach into your community. Please sign up to be a Friend of the Foundation here, and if you’re able, please donate so that we can help reach a greater number of children. The future generations of Canada thank you in advance for your generosity!