When it comes to good, local food — Terrace schools are growing it.
Farm to School BC has launched its first Northwest regional hub in Terrace to help bring healthy, local and sustainable foods into the schools in the area.
“[They] offer grants to school to be able to run their own [food] programs, so it looks really different in each school,” says Margo Peill, local community animator for Farm to School BC. “Schools are growing microgreens, gardens, doing salad bars and a variety of different programs that are all focused on getting healthy local food into the bellies of school children, helping them understand where it comes from and why it’s important.”
The Farm to School BC is a provincially funded program that began in 2007, which strives to build a community network between schools and local growers so that young children can develop better food literacy skills.
The program has been running for various years in places across B.C., from Victoria, Kamloops and Prince George. As of January 2019, it was introduced to Terrace.
And within only three months, Terrace has gained some impressions in the province by taking away the crown from Prince George, which previously held the highest amount of Farm to School BC programs.
“Throughout the Northwest, we have those key supports and have amazing passionate people working on this,” Peill says. “We have a lot of community support here already… we’re focused on supporting what’s already existing and not reinventing the wheel, but to combine, build things up and empower [everybody].”
Peill says that there were a few local schools that already received grants prior to their launch. In the 2017-18 school year, one school even managed to set up their own greenhouse to extend their growing season.
“I think it’s been going well and schools are really excited about it, but it seems like there is a lot more potential,” she says. “[We want to] build that up a little bit with more support, more funding to get more schools involved and build up the programs that are already happening.”
Peill set up a Farm to School BC booth at the Terrace Spring Gardening Fair and Seed Swap on March 23 to introduce their Terrace hub to the agricultural community. Jane Dickson, president of the Greater Terrace Food Association, took notice of it and says that she’s happy to see an initiative that encourages youth to be more involved with the local food industry.
“It’s where everything begins, it’s where we have to teach children, how to grow their own food and also enable them to eat good, nutritious food from our soil,” Dickson says. “We want to [have people] take away the sense that we have a community in Terrace that really wants to grow its own food… [so] we can grow together.”
So far, Peill says they are working closely with Gurjeet Parhar, coordinator for the Kalum Community School Society (KCSS), who has played a big role in connecting Farm to School BC with the school districts.
“With our new regional hub here, we’re working very closely with the KCSS and the work that they’re doing in schools to support that,” says Peill. “We’re looking to do a lot of capacity building and more community development.”