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Fresh Roots Named Top 16 Innovators in School Meal Programs

Food Tank: September 2019

School meals can be one of the most important sources of nutrition for children around the world. The U.N. World Food Programme estimates that nearly half of all schoolchildren in low- and middle-income nations — about 310 million kids — eat a meal daily at school.

Around the globe, schools are beginning to focus on where the food in their cafeterias comes from. They are creating school gardens and boosting agriculture education to show students how to grow nutritious food crops, as well as how to cook, share, and enjoy them at mealtimes.

The impact of school gardens on children’s nutritional and academic well-being is significant: studies show that in schools that provide frequent hands-on education, students eat triple the fruits and vegetables during lunch than do students who don’t get food learning opportunities. Garden-based learning is also associated with consistently higher academic performance in not only science but also mathematics and language arts.

Food Tank is highlighting 16 initiatives that are helping students understand the food system by using school gardens to boost lunchtime meal programs.

1. Garden to Café Program, Texas, U.S.

The Austin Independent School District (AISD) Garden to Café program provides schools with support and resources to serve food grown in school gardens directly in cafeteria meals. Each participating school has a garden leader who ensures that the food moving from the garden to the lunchroom is safe to eat, and the district also issues seasonal calls to plant, which encourage schools to grow certain recommended crops that cafeterias can plan ahead to use on menus. AISD’s commitment to fresh produce also extends beyond school gardens: every day, at least three items on offer are locally sourced, the menus are designed with seasonality in mind, and certain days are designated Farm Fresh Fridays.

2. Fresh Roots’ Schoolyard Market Gardens, Canada

A partnership between the Vancouver School Board and the organization Fresh Roots led to the creation of Schoolyard Market Gardens, which are operational educational farms where students can learn and share knowledge about food, health, and even leadership and employment skills without leaving their school grounds. The food students help grow goes back into the schools via the cafeteria, and out into the broader community at local restaurants around Vancouver and in the weekly CSA-style Veggie Box program.

3. Purchase from Africans for Africa Program, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, and Senegal

The Purchase from Africans for Africa Program (PAA) links smallholder farmers with local schools in five countries—Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, and Senegal. The pilot phase resulted in more than 1,000 metric tons of locally procured food serving 128,456 pupils in 420 schools. Family farmers’ productivity rates have increased by more than 100 percent, with schools feeding activities guaranteeing a market for an average of 40 percent of the food they produce. PAA is a partnership between the Government of Brazil, the Government of the United Kingdom, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Food Program’s Purchase for Progress initiative.

4. Green School, Indonesia

The Green School, located in Bali, Indonesia, was founded in 2006 with just 90 students and has now grown to reach over 400 children from pre-school through high school. The school focuses on cultivating the spiritual awareness and emotional intuition of young people with the goal that they will create a more sustainable world. They use a holistic, student-led approach to learning in outdoor classrooms with three guiding principles: be local, let your environment be your guide, and envision how your grandchildren will be affected by your actions.

5. Edible Schoolyard, California, U.S.

The Edible Schoolyard (ESY), started by Chez Panisse chef Alice Waters, was a pioneer of the school garden method. Begun in Berkeley, California, in 1995, ESY is completely integrated into the curriculum at King Middle School, the hub school for the program. There, the one-acre educational garden works in tandem with a kitchen classroom and with a larger cafeteria kitchen, which uses fresh crops to prepare meals for public school students across the city. ESY also offers trainings to launch similar garden-to-cafeteria programs at other schools.

6. Gardeneers, Illinois, U.S.

Gardeneers, which serves 1,800 students weekly across Chicago, involves students in the full growing process, from crop selection to planting to harvesting. And thanks to the Chicago Public Schools’ Eat What You Grow Garden-to-Cafeteria Manual, Gardeneers is certified to serve food harvested from the garden to students — which they do with the help of top-notch chefs like Stephanie Izard, Q Ibraheem, and Paul Virant. At the schools, chefs teach students how to turn the food they worked hard to grow into fresh and seasonal dishes.

7. The Agricultural School of Fundación Cristo Vive Bolivia (FCVB), Bolivia

The Agricultural School of Fundación Cristo Vive Bolivia (FCVB) provides personal and professional development around agriculture to young people. Based in Cochabamba, Bolivia and supported by the Louis Dreyfus Foundation, the agricultural school is part of a technical college that was founded in 2006. The school provides agricultural education, practical agricultural skills, and management training.

8. Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, Australia

The philosophy behind Australian celebrity chef, restaurateur, and food writer Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Foundation is “pleasurable food education,” and the foundation’s school programs aim to promote positive eating habits through hands-on education. Elementary school children spend at least 45 minutes per week in a vegetable garden on school grounds — and double that time, another 90 minutes per week, in a kitchen classroom, where they learn how to prepare and share the foods they’ve grown in a fun environment. The program is integrated with the school’s community and curriculum, and teachers have noticed participating students bringing healthier bagged lunches from home, too.

9. Green Bronx Machine, New York, U.S.

Green Bronx Machine, founded by educator and self-proclaimed CEO — “Chief Eternal Optimist” — of the Bronx Stephen Ritz, uses gardening and nutrition as ways to boost academic performance and create resilient and equitable communities. Green Bronx Machine’s National Health, Wellness, and Learning Center, an impressive indoor vertical farm space and sustainable training kitchen in a 100-year-old school building in the South Bronx, is the epicenter of their School Garden to School Cafeteria program: Food grown in school is served to hundreds of students in the cafeteria without ever having to leave the building.

10. Agri Aware, Ireland

Agri Aware facilitates education and public awareness initiatives for farming and non-farming communities across Ireland. The Mobile Farm is an outdoor, hands-on classroom led by trained farmers that teaches children and adults about animals and their role in food production. Agri Aware works with the Dublin Zoo to host the Family Farm, an educational and interactive acre of land representing modern Irish farm life. Every year, the Family Farm hosts nearly 1 million visitors teaching them about farm animals and Ireland’s agricultural history.

11. National School Meals Program, Brazil

Leão Machado School, a public school in São Paulo, Brazil, is one of several thousand schools in more than 700 cities and towns across Brazil that are home to urban school gardens, where students learn to grow food that goes straight to their cafeterias. This is a facet of Brazil’s robust National School Meals Program (PNAE), which has made supporting local farmers a priority in recent years. In 2009, Brazil and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization launched a collaborative program to strengthen school feeding programs, including school gardens, across Central and South America and the Caribbean. Today, such programs are active in 13 countries, from Honduras to Jamaica to Peru.

12. Model Vihti, Finland

Model Vihti is a development project in Vihti, Finland, seeking to create sustainable, nature-based learning environments. The model involves garden-based learning where children plan the next season, grow seedlings indoors, prepare the soil, and plant, sow, and harvest edible crops. It also includes farm visits where pupils and teachers are assigned everyday tasks of a farmer, from cleaning horse stables to stacking firewood. Children also learn in nearby forests about forestry, water systems, and climate change, as well as basic survival skills such as first aid and making a safe fire in the forest. The three aspects of the program are designed to help children understand the interconnected natural and physical processes involved in food production.

13. Michinda Primary School Garden, Kenya

At the Michinda Primary School in Elburgon, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of Nairobi, students cultivate spinach, kale, cassava, sweet potatoes, and other nutritious vegetables. They also keep animals such as chicken and sheep on school grounds, to collect manure to use as fertilizer. The primary purpose of the garden harvest is to support school feeding programs, so students can get hands-on experience growing healthy food they’ll get to eat soon after. The success of the school garden initiative at Michinda led to the establishment of partner gardens at 11 other schools in Kenya, with over 400 students participating in growing crops for their cafeterias and communities.

14. Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, Japan

In Japan, school lunch is referred to as Shokuiku, which translates to food and nutrition education. The free school lunch program aims to promote mental and physical health and is based on government-established nutritional criteria. The program encourages sustainability by promoting environmentally friendly food production in local communities, encourages table manners, and celebrates the enjoyment of eating.

15. Big Green, U.S.

Big Green, co-founded by entrepreneur and food advocate Kimbal Musk and chef Hugo Matheson, works to improve academic engagement and bring healthier food into schools by establishing learning gardens on school grounds. Several hundred Big Green gardens in seven U.S. locales — Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Pittsburgh, and across their home state of Colorado — reach over 100,000 students a day. Big Green provides detailed resources for educators and administrators to incorporate the garden into their school communities, including a step-by-step planning guide for putting learning garden produce in school cafeterias.

16. Chengelo School, Zambia

The Chengelo Farm partners with the Chengelo School to harness the creativity and passion of young people in an effort to preserve sustainable agriculture across the nation. The farm-to-school collaboration begins with students starting as early as pre-school and extends through secondary school, providing opportunities to work on the farm and learn a variety of agricultural skills. They also offer formal trainings for farmers, opportunities for agribusinesses to conduct research, and support to local communities through Foundations Zambia.

Link to Article: https://foodtank.com/news/2019/09/16-school-garden-initiatives-revitalizing-lunches-in-the-cafeteria/

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Welcome to Fall!

Fall is here, she announced her name
And you can see her in this rain
This is time to harvest crops
and celebrate the bounty that drops.

Although the season on the farm is slowing down, that’s just the time that Fresh Roots is busy in the classroom and working with you to help prepare and grow. October is the time that we harvest the last of the bounty from the year. Beets, carrots, squash – the last of Summer’s sun is harvested in the fruits, stems, roots, leaves, and seeds of our plants on the farm and in the forest.  It’s also a time of mushroom growth – the mycelium that runs throughout our forests like a wood wide web, is pushing forth mushroom fruiting bodies to spread spores and grow.

It’s in this time that we take stock of what it means to have bounty. As farmer educators we try to emulate that in our work and our lives.  That happens in two key ways: First, we share. Whether that’s food from the farm or the infectious excitement about what can grow when youth are empowered.  This year, we’re sharing even more food through a program called LunchLAB, where youth at two schools learn how to grow, cook, and share lunch with 150 of their peers twice a week. (Check It Out). We’re also helping share the magic of the Earth Sprit Healing Forest and Medicine Garden at the Suwa’lkh School in Coquitlam.  Set on over seven acres of land, we’re working with youth to reindigenize that land – remove the invasive species, plant native plants and medicines. We as an organization are learning from both the plants and place. And we acknowledge and are learning what it means to engage as a settler organization supporting and working to grow indigenous food systems. If you’re interested in learning more, check out what’s happening at Suwa’lkh.

The second is that we recognize that bounty exists – not just on the farm, but with the youth we work with. Youth have a tremendous amount of knowledge – both about the world as it is, as well as ideas on how to help make it a better place. Watching the global UN climate strikes, listening to the passion in our youth voices, and seeing the power of youth engagement, we recognize that youth have a bounty of energy and solutions to help make change that is so needed. Whether that is globally when it comes to climate change or at home, when it comes to helping their families, creating thriving communities, or sharing healthy food.  Helping everyone recognize the bounty that they walk with helps everyone to see their ability to affect positive change in the world.

This October, as Thanksgiving beckons and we harvest the energy of the sun, I encourage you to explore where you have bounty in your life. Might you be able to help share that bounty with someone else? You might have a wealth of experience that someone you know could benefit from.  It might mean sharing a favourite recipe with a friend. It might mean stopping by the Press Fest with two jars this year, one to share with a friend!

However you end up sharing your bounty, may this season fill you up.

We look forward to celebrating with you,

Marc and the Fresh Roots Farm Team!

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East Van Press Fest

Pluck, Crush, Press, and Ingest!
It’s the 8th annual East Van Apple Press Fest!
We request of you to be our guests,
And make this fest a great success.

Come one, come all to this FREE event whose only purpose is to bring people together to make apple cider. This is a BYOJ event, so please bring your own jar and cup for hot cider, so you can take some home.

We’ll help you learn about the full process of making apple cider (that’s the same as apple juice, but unfiltered and no sugar added), and give you the skills to make your own apple cider.

Enjoy cider, local music, socializing, and the Champion Press Fest Off!

Where: Vancouver Technical Secondary School (at the farm near the tennis courts) at Slocan and Broadway. Here’s a map.

When: Saturday, October 26, 2016 from 11-3

Who: All are invited. Bring your family, bring your friends and BYOJ Bring your own jar to help take home the cider.

Schoolyard Harvest Dinner Named “The Most Worthy Longtable Dinner of the Summer” by Vancouver Magazine

Neal McLennan, Food Editor for Vancouver Magazine, writes, “It’s tough to know where to start the gushing thread with Vancouver’s Fresh Roots,” and then proceeds to gush all about Fresh Roots programs and our upcoming dinner in the world’s sweetest article, titled, “The Most Worthy Longtable Dinner of the Summer” (spoiler alert: it’s ours).

Check out the full piece and get your tickets to the Most Worthy Longtable Dinner of the Summer today!

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Join Us for Our Schoolyard Harvest Dinner!

Join us for our third annual Schoolyard Harvest Dinner.

We’ll celebrate with an elegant dinner of local ingredients sourced from our schoolyard farms and farmer friends, paired with an open bar of amazing wine from Marquis Wine Cellars, brews from 33 Acres, and kombucha from Brew Dr. Kombucha.

Enjoy an inspired multi-course meal created by chefs Karima Chellouf and Kym Nguyen.

Karima Chellouf is a chef, nutritionist, and educator who has been cooking and baking through elevated dining establishments and patisseries in Vancouver for the past 10 years. Karima’s food is bold, flavourful, influenced by lineage, and is often made to promote discussions of health, self-care, and social issues. Follow @gloryandgutsnutrition on Instagram for pop-up events, workshops, recipes, and more.

Kym Nguyen is a self-taught chef from London, England. Over the last 12 years, they’ve developed a huge passion in cooking farm to table across Canada, inspired by using fresh and local ingredients from whole animals to the produce from the ground, recognizing the amazing flavours of food that can be grown locally and responsibly. Kym hopes to keep continue working closely with local farmers and foragers to create new and exciting dishes.
 
We are so lucky that Karima and Kym are returning to cook for us again this year, as many of last year’s attendees said the meal they created last year was the best they’ve ever had!

Support experiential learning by sharing delicious conversations, the best of this season’s harvest, and your own generosity—in addition to ticket sales, our goal is to raise $45,000 at this event to support children and youth in Fresh Roots programs, so please bring your chequebook or credit card along with your appetite!

Proceeds support Good Food at school. You will receive a tax receipt for the charitable portion of your ticket purchase. If you’d like to buy group tickets, are interested in a children’s ticket, or have any other questions, please reach out to Sarah Maitland, our Community Engagement Manager, at sarah@freshroots.ca.

The dinner will be served family style, with tables sharing platters of food, so unfortunately, we can’t accommodate special diets.

Photo Credit: Andrea Fernandez
Special thanks to our friends at the Italian Cultural Centre for the use of their kitchen space to prep this amazing meal.

 
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2018 Annual Report

We’re so excited to share with you all of the amazing things that happened in 2018! (Hot tip: click the little square in the far right corner to view it full screen and zoom in.)

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who supported the children and youth in Fresh Roots programs in 2018 and helped grow Good Food for All!

Come Plant a Food Forest With US!

We have a farm that is slowly filling with food, and we have a forest that is teaching us how nature “gardens”, now it is time to connect the two and build a food forest at the Suwa’lkh School!

What is a food forest? It is a type of garden that mimics a natural forest growth pattern and its biodiversity to ensure better yields, fewer inputs, and simple management! This system will help our youth learn about ecosystems, biodiversity, and native plants while creating a food asset looking forward 20 – 50 – 100 years ahead!!!

We would love your help in creating this next piece of our food asset, and feed our community for generations to come!

If you are interested, click this link to sign up!

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Feeding “Hangry ” Kids

Don Davies is introducing legislation entitled the “School Food Program for Children Act,” requiring the Minister of Health, in consultation with provincial governments and other relevant stakeholders, to develop a school food program to ensure that all children in Canada have access to healthy food.

Fresh Roots participants and staff were invited to attend this press conference and got to speak on the importance of a national school food program. Watch now:

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Fresh Roots: Rethinking Hunger and Food Access

Michael Newman of Global TV explores how Fresh Roots and other local charities are engaging in ensuring that all people have access to healthy food.

With rising food prices and continuous economic pressures, the problem of hunger is one that has greatly affected the Metro Vancouver area. Community reporter Michael Newman takes a look at some community organizations on the front lines of hunger and the diverse innovative solutions they are deploying.