Farm to School BC Framework
– Three Core Elements –
F2S programs differ by school,
but include the following core elements:
Healthy, Local Food
Schools source local food in a variety of ways, including through direct farmer relationships, food distributors, schoolyard farms, or the harvesting of wild or traditional foods. When local food arrives in schools it is often served in the form of a salad bar, hot lunch program, tasting activity, fundraiser, or community celebration.
Food literacy is a critically important component of a F2S program. Step into any school offering a F2S program and you will find students learning about food in the school garden, greenhouse, kitchen, lunchroom or classroom. They may also be getting ready for field trips to local farms, forests and shores. Schools access a plethora of resources available to them through provincial and regional partners.
School & Community Connectedness
The most sucessful and sustainable F2S programs are built upon strong relationships.Schools establish relationships with farmers, community members, and support organizations, tapping into local knowledge passion,skill and resources.
Healthy, local and sustainable food on the plates and minds of all students in BC.
Working with communities and partners, Farm to School BC seeks to empower and support schools in building comprehensive Farm to School programs that support vibrant, sustainable, regional food systems, develop student food literacy and enhance school and community connectedness.
Farm to School BC Goals
Support the development of sustainable regional food systems in BC by bringing more healthy, local, and sustainable food into BC schools.
Promote healthy eating in BC schools by supporting the development of healthy school food environments.
Advance experiential hands-on learning opportunities related to food systems and the development of student food literacy in BC schools.
Enhance school and community connectedness in BC.
Develop promising Farm to School practice models that are sustainable, self-financing, eco- friendly and have the potential to be implemented elsewhere.
Growing Farm to School in BC
In 2014 the Public Health Association of BC received funding from the Province of British Columbia to implement a two year project that would see continued provincial coordination of the F2SBC network, the funding of 48 new F2S programs across the province and the establishment of three F2S Regional Hubs. The three Regional Hubs were created in the Vancouver, Kamloops and Capital Regions of the province.
The development of three F2S Regional Hubs fostered collaboration and collective impact around F2S at the regional level. The F2S Regional Hub Community Animators, part-time F2SBC team members who live in the Hub regions, enabled capacity-building and F2S resilience within communities and sowed the seeds for long-term F2S success. The Animators became agents of change in the community: building relationships and developing new partnerships.
Vancouver Area Hub
– Highlights and Outcomes –
Schools in Vancouver have grown, prepared and served local food with students for many years. These efforts have been supported by a wide variety of local organizations including the Think&EatGreen@School initiative (2010-2015), which was a collaborative project between the UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems, the Vancouver School District and many local non-profit organizations. Over the last five years, a network of school food practitioners and leaders have come together within both the Vancouver School Food Network and the Vancouver Area F2S Steering Committee with the aim of collaboration.
With seed funding from F2SBC, the Vancouver Area F2S Steering Committee was able to increase their capacity dramatically through the hiring of a F2S Community Animator and the funding of eight new F2S programs. The Vancouver Area F2S Regional Hub was born and the existing Steering Committee was further enhanced with additional key stakeholders and a Community Advisory Committee was struck including the members of the Vancouver School Food Network to advise on Hub direction and focus. Vancouver Coastal Health remains a key champion of F2S work in the region, providing ongoing support to Hub functions.
The Vancouver Area F2S Regional Hub has been working with the Vancouver School District to move towards local food purchasing for a couple of years and is currently in the process of bringing together local community organizations who have a stake in school food projects in the region to develop a collaborative teacher professional development plan which will support teacher training related to F2S.
The Vancouver Area F2S Regional Hub has also successfully published two beautiful resources in the form of a F2S promotional video and F2S Guide for the region that supports schools in sourcing local food for their F2S programs and connecting schools to the resources available through various community partners.
The Vancouver region is brimming with F2S innovation, with school-yard farms and student food skill development taking front and centre through the excellent work of organizations such as Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society and the Edible Garden Project who are managing working market gardens run by farmers on school board land and organizations such as Project CHEF and Growing Chefs who are bringing innovative cooking initiatives to Vancouver schools.
This spring marked the 5th annual F2S networking, learning and celebration event hosted by the F2S Regional Hub Steering Committee. This year’s event saw a diverse group of F2S stakeholders including teachers, parents, students, administrators, community organizations, health authority partners and the school district come together to share a communal meal, celebrate their F2S success and learn from local F2S partners and experts.
Schools and community organizations in Vancouver are sure to continue to inspire as they innovate and work towards collective impact in their F2S efforts.
Capital Region Hub
– Highlights and Outcomes –
Grassroots school food activity is alive and thriving in the Capital Region of Vancouver Island. Several local non-profit organizations such as LifeCyles Project and the Growing Young Farmers Society are working hard to support schools in their F2S related activities. The Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CRFAIR), a local non-profit organization focused on supporting the development of sustainable regional food systems and the health of communities in the Capital Region, is the key stakeholder partner in the development of the Capital Region F2S Regional Hub. Working closely with F2SBC and the F2S Community Animator for the Capital Region, the CRFAIR has embedded the F2S framework within their Collective Impact Strategy, working to secure long term F2S Hub sustainability. The Capital Region F2S Community Animator has successfully developed a strong F2S Steering Committee composed of key local stakeholders including the Victoria School District, Island Health and the City of Victoria among many others, who gave direction and guidance for the further development of F2S in the region.
One of the most exciting outcomes of the work of the Capital Region F2S Hub is progress towards support for a Victoria School District Food and Garden Policy. The policy will support the growing, cooking and eating of local food in schools as well as provide direction for the use of school grounds as food growing resource lands for school and urban agriculture production.
One of the most fruitful relationships built to date is with local urban farms including City Harvest Co-op and Mason Street Farms. City Harvest is working with a number of local schools within a unique model where City Harvest supports schools to get their school gardens up and running and then partners with the schools to utilize those garden spaces for food production over the summer months. The F2S Community Animator and City Harvest are also working with the Victoria School District to create an opportunity for high school students to gain leadership credits for their work with the school gardens/farms which could then be transferred to Camosun College.
The CRFAIR hosts a number of roundtables every year as part of their community engagement work, and is using that same model within the F2S Regional Hub to host multiple F2S roundtables each school year. This spring marked the inaugural roundtable held at Reynolds Secondary School, home to a long standing successful F2S program. The event consisted of a shared salad bar meal prepared by the Reynolds Secondary School students along with presentations from multiple community partners and a tour of the Reynolds school garden.
Another important piece of work by the CRFAIR and the Capital Region F2S Hub was the writing of the Fresh & Local: Exploring Opportunities for Fresh and Local Food in Schools report. This report summarizes findings of a survey that was delivered to a number of local F2S schools to better understand their successes and challenges faced when purchasing local food for their F2S programs.
This Hub is brimming with possibilities around F2S collaboration and is poised to take large steps towards building healthy and sustainable food systems for the students within the region.
– Highlights and Outcomes –
The Kamloops region of BC has been a leader in the development of projects related to sustainable regional food systems and food security for many years under the leadership of the Kamloops Food Policy Council (KFPC) and Interior Health. In the 2014-2015 school year F2SBC, the KFPC, Interior Health and the Kamloops School District came together as a core Steering Committee to guide the development of the Kamloops Region F2S Hub, in addition to a broader F2S Community Advisory composed of key local stakeholders who give direction and guidance to the F2S Community Animator.
The F2S Community Animator has been instrumental in having the Kamloops F2S Regional Hub included as a stakeholder partner in the Kamloops Food and Urban Agriculture Plan as well as being identified as a core program of the KFPC Community Food Action Team. Rather than recreate the wheel, the Animator worked within existing organizational structures to leverage F2S opportunities. By bringing together large stakeholder partners, F2S gained legitimacy and a stronger focus within the region.
As in each of the Hub regions, the Kamloops Region received eight F2SBC Start-up Grants for schools in their region. It is noteworthy that the first four schools who received F2S Start-up Grants in the 2014-2015 school year were from rural communities within the Kamloops School District (Logan Lake, Barriere, Clearwater and Skeetchestn Reserve), with the following four schools located in Kamloops. The Kamloops F2S Hub is poised to gain the benefits of building F2S programs within small rural communities with strong community networks and the ability to utilize the capacity and resources that can be found in larger urban centres, making their Hub context unique.
By way of the KFPC, teachers and administrators at F2S schools have been able to make connections with local farmers in order to source local food and have helped organize farm tours and growing advice for schools. There is a plan shaping up in the region that will see the local F2S schools visit the Kamloops Farmers’ Market Wednesday markets in the fall of 2016.
Being located north of the Okanagan Valley, the Kamloops Region is brimming with produce and fruit during the summer months in backyards and gardens throughout the region. The Gleaning Abundance Project helps to collect excess produce in the region by leveraging the hard work of harvesting volunteers and sharing the bounty with community organizations that could benefit from the donations. As projects of the Kamloops Community Food Action Team, the Gleaning Abundance Project and the F2S Regional Hub are finding ways to include students and schools in this process and linking the many volunteers between the Gleaning Abundance project and F2S schools.
As a collaboration between the Kamloops F2S Regional Hub, the Kamloops School District, Interior Health and many local non-profit organizations, this region hosted their first F2S Regional Hub networking, learning and celebration event. Staff and students from the eight new F2S programs as well as community partners came together to celebrate their progress to date, learn, and be inspired by a series of excellent speakers and have the opportunity to experience 10 maker stations hosted by local food related initiatives.
Kamloops has hit the ground running and is poised to continue to grow and expand their F2S success to date.
— By the Numbers —
Farm to School BC
Start-up Grants 2014-2016
48 New F2S Programs
As part of the Growing Farm to School in BC project, F2SBC has funded the development of 48 new F2S programs across the province, bringing the total number of schools funded with F2S grants to over 120.
15,000 + Students Participating
With over 15,000 students participating, major impacts on school food environments across the province have been seen. Within the communities that these schools reside in, many important stakeholders have come to the table to help make these programs a great success – including regional health authorities, municipalities, farmers, non-profit organizations, elders, food distributors and community volunteers. BC schools are transforming the school food environments that our students learn in.
Half of the 48 schools were funded within the three F2SBC Regional Hub locations, with the other half allocated across the rest of the province. We have been inspired by the vision, commitment and passion that schools and communities have put forward in developing their F2S programs. We had a large number of schools apply for the Start-up Grants, with the successful schools receiving a $500 Planning Grant, followed by a $3500 Implementation Grant.
A Catalysts to Ignite Change
This small investment in schools has provided the catalyst to ignite movement in schools who were primed and eager to engage with the local food system and to provide students with positive hands-on learning experiences at school, enhancing their food literacy and allowing for healthy habits to take root in an engaging, fun and spirited way.
Stories from the Field
As part of their grant reporting process, grantee schools were requested to write a story highlighting the process and progress to date in building their F2S programs. Below you will find short summaries of a handful of the amazing stories generated by our grantee schools.
South Nelson Elementary
At South Nelson Elementary School they have developed their version of a F2S program through the creation of a weekly salad bar lunch program which features fresh and local vegetables. Two local farmers deliver their produce directly to the school and a neighbourhood baker delivers whole wheat bread in a car that oftentimes runs on pedal and solar power. The grade two students contributed sprouts and seeds that they grew for the salad bar and the grade four and five students are apprenticing in the planning and preparing of the weekly salad bar service. The school uses roughly 40% grown and local produced in their weekly salad bar and provides a range of experiential learning opportunities for students building strong relationships with their local community. This successful program aims to continue to increase the capacity of their local farmers to food their community.
Logan Lake Secondary
Logan Lake Secondary began with an idea to start a school garden and expanded into so much more. Some of their achievements over the past year include a successful school garden, growing microgreens, healthy lunch and breakfast programs, and school composting. . The team has built and created many positive connections throughout the school and community. Students have grown in their leadership abilities and healthier life choices are being made by students and staff alike. The school credits their F2S Start-up Grant as the catalyst for all of the amazing work they have been able to accomplish over the last two years.
Yarrow Community School
Since receiving their F2S Start-up Grant, Yarrow Community School has built a F2S program that includes a school garden, local food smoothies, strong connections with local farmers and community partners and has provided local food meals for the school community. The entire school student population—all 307 students, plus the on-site preschool and daycare programs—participate in the program in one way or another. “Smoothie Tuesday” is one of the most engaging components of Yarrow’s F2S program where every classroom in the school rotates through being in charge of Smoothie Tuesday. The chosen class makes smoothies with grown, donated and gleaned ingredients and deliver samples to the entire school population. They bring knowledge along with their tasty treats, engaging kids to “Guess what’s in it? Guess which healthy ingredients were grown right here in Chilliwack?” And then they share their recipe!
David Thomson Secondary School
Cultivating healthy eating and ecological stewardship may require much more than healthy snacks- but they’re certainly a place to start. With their F2S Start-up Grant, the team at David Thompson Secondary School transformed part of the school food landscape by empowering students to produce, market and sell preserved fruits and vegetables. They experimented, learned and shared using locally-sourced produce, all while fostering leadership, employment skills and a sense of community amongst student participants. Most excitingly, students involved in the school Carrot Club were featured in Vancouver Coastal Health’s PhotoVoice Project, which mentors students to use photography as a means to document their engagement with local food, gardening and cooking activities. This project has enabled students to capture project highlights and share these with a wider audience
Telkwa School’s F2S funding was used to develop a process of making fruit leather. In a remote community with a shortened growing season, due to almost a half-year of frosted ground, they can’t rely on fresh produce. Fortunately the community is generous and actually grateful to pass along the bear-attracting apples and other items like Saskatoon berries, rhubarb and strawberries that grow very well. With the purchase of two large industrial sized dehydrators they spent the fall blitzing and making fruit sauce. With cinnamon for flavour the sauce was frozen, then thawed, spread and dehydrated through the school year. The fruit leather is served to all the students in the school as part of their ongoing breakfast program, when a healthy snack is offered to all students to start their day. Students were delighted to be able to eat the fruit leather and all the students in the school have had multiple chances to be part of the process at every stage. To maintain this program they have planted apple trees, strawberries and other fruit- this addition to the school grounds will add beauty and function.
Queen Elizabeth Annex, Vancouver
This school’s F2S program started with a focus on nutrition education and food skill building. The idea was to develop and enhance the student’s understanding of food and healthy eating through creative, hands on learning. They 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. They grew and maintained the school garden of six raised beds- this involved harvesting, food safety and preparation and food sharing. The students also had the opportunity to learn more about nutrition, food groups, meal planning and healthy snacks through fun and creative activities. Students have gained access to local food and engaged the community with their enthusiasm. In order to make the program more sustainable, they worked hard to establish successful partnerships with other local farms and suppliers. With F2SBC funding and help from parent volunteers, teachers and students, they have been able to get all the students involved in growing an edible food garden including planting, watering, harvesting, cooking and sharing. They are now in the planning stages of building a bee and butterfly garden, and were successful in implementing school wide composting measures.
Fernwood Elementary, Saltspring
This school set out to grow, harvest and consume food from their own garden, have a whole school harvest community lunch, arrange field trips to a local farm, and ultimately give the students a strong sense of food security that they can carry with them and share with others throughout their lives. And it is working! Students have been truly empowered by learning about soil, composting, preparing garden beds, planting seeds, watering, caring for plants and harvesting food. A big highlight for all students was the opportunity to learn about raising poultry from egg incubation, chick hatching, growth, development and care, all the way to a beautiful chicken flock that they care for daily. Fresh organic eggs were added to a pre-existing healthy offering of vegetables for students. Most importantly is how the sense of community has been strengthened throughout the entire F2S experience. The school program has connected with local farms, worked together in the garden, ate together at community meals, and witnessed friendships forming amongst students across age groups and intellectual and physical abilities. Their garden has been beatified but the true beauty has been watching a child’s face light up at the elation of being included, of being proud and of eating healthy food.
Lake Trail, Courtenay
On any day at Lake Trail School students are out in the garden – with a teacher or volunteer tending the seeds and starts they’ve grown themselves. Math students are measuring how much plastic is needed to refurbish the hoop covers. Some are practising the names of herbs in French or trying radishes straight from the soil for the first time. Students made mint, parsley and lemon balm bouquets for Mother’s Day and harvest mint for tea-time in Foods Class. All of the small activities make up a whole school food movement. Inside, the garden plays a big role in Foods lesson plans and the Breakfast program offers fruit French toast and smoothies with fruit and greens from the garden. On any given day salad volunteers connect as they prep while students took an after-school Young Chefs class. The F2S program has engaged the students in menu planning, harvesting and composting. They coordinated to integrate the harvest, purchase and prep so that there can be fresh healthy food at every meal. In other words, they are Growing Together!