Fresh from the Farm

There have been some amazing initiatives from the school nutrition front lately. Last week I had the opportunity to help out at Project CHEF – an integrated cooking program for elementary school students in Vancouver and this week I heard about the Fresh from the Farm initiative that just got launched for another year in Ontario. This is the second year that the program is running with plans to expand in subsequent years.

The Fresh from the Farm program is based off the Farm to School program in Manitoba where schools fundraise by selling boxes of produce to people who pre-order them.

Here is what I love about this:

It supports local farmers

Schools partner up with local farmers who provide the produce which they bundle and sell to members of the community. Students are responsible for volunteering their time to collect orders, organize the produce and distribute them.

It’s practical

Think of it as a healthier version of “selling chocolate covered almonds” except it supports local farmers, encourages healthy eating practices and can be put towards student volunteer hours for community service. I think it’s a great idea. I subscribe to a fruit and vegetable delivery program throughout the year and I figure that groceries are something that people need plus it’s a good price and it supports local farmers. It seems like the perfect model for schools to use for fundraising.

Right now the program is open to certain schools that have been identified as having the capacity and complementary programs in place. These schools can choose to enrol in the program and will need to appoint a school champion and a team of individuals who will be able to coordinate the ordering, bundling and distribution of produce boxes.

It’s healthy

Two bundles of Ontario produce are available for sale:

  • The $10 bundle includes 3 lb carrots, 3 lb onions, 5 lb potatoes, and 2 lb beets
  • The $20 includes everything in the $10 bundle, plus a 8 lb gift box of 20-25 Ontario apples

It offers teaching moments

The fundraising, community service hours and supporting local farmers isn’t the only thing that happens from this project. Teachers notice that when the vegetables get delivered to the schools questions often pop up. Children ask what the ‘white carrots’ are (which are really parsnips) which can create great teaching moments for teachers. In fact, Project CHEF integrates the subject of food into the school curriculum. It’s moments like these that could eventually lead to an Edible Schoolyard project or community garden.

I think anything that sparks the interest of students when it comes to good food is worth investing in. Plus it supports local farmers and raises funds for the school. Here is a promotional flyer that provides more details about the program.

For more information go to the Fresh from the Farm website.