In honour of Canadian Agriculture Literacy Month, a national organization has received federal money to expand its programming. (U.S Department of Agriculture/Flickr)

In honour of Canadian Agriculture Literacy Month, a national organization has received federal money to expand its programming. (U.S Department of Agriculture/Flickr)

Agriculture education in Canadian schools gets $1.6M boost from the feds

It’s imperative students know where their food comes from: Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau

By Cloe Logan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer

A Canada-wide organization that helps teach kids about food systems received a financial boost from the government this week.

On Monday, federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced $1.6 million for Agriculture in the Classroom Canada, an organization that works with schools across the country to implement food and agriculture into curriculums.

The charity, which has been around for six years, was honoured for Canadian Agriculture Literacy Month. Its programs span from kindergarten to Grade 12 and aim to educate students about where their food comes from and how it’s produced.

“Everything we develop on the theme of agriculture and food production is connected to Canadian curriculum through science, social studies, food, food courses, nutrition. It really fits everywhere,” said Johanne Ross, executive director of Agriculture in the Classroom Canada.

“Part of our success is that we don’t just say to a teacher… ‘Here’s a resource on how to teach it.’ We say, ‘Here’s a resource, here’s how it integrates into your curriculum outcomes in your province.”’

It’s imperative students know where their food comes from, says Bibeau.

“They must know what farmers’ work consists of and how hard they work to take care of their animals and our environment in order to provide us with high-quality food. I encourage our young people to take an interest in the many job opportunities available to them on farms and in mechanics, electronics and engineering, science, animal and plant health, and much more,” the minister said.

“I applaud the Agriculture in the Classroom Canada team for their outstanding work and celebrate Agriculture Literacy Month with them.”

Ross said part of the money will go to expanding and improving its online teaching resources, as well as hosting professional development days for teachers.

“Nowadays, it’s talking about the environment and sustainability, and food sovereignty and food security, and food safety — all those areas connect to agriculture,” she said. “That’s where we are definitely focusing a lot now. And we still have a lot of work to do in all areas, but we’re going to keep going.”

There are other groups across the province that work with students, including the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC). Over the past 12 years, SPEC has worked to create school gardens, mostly in Vancouver, and deliver classroom programs and resources.

Sharlene Singh is the school gardens program co-ordinator at SPEC, where she says she has seen their programs foster a connection between kids and plants. Kids offer feedback and are involved in designing the school gardens, which Singh says keeps them excited and engaged.

“A lot of our students are really fascinated when they learn that you can actually plant a radish and harvest it within a month. That blows them away,” she said. “A lot of students love kale! It would surprise you how many students want to plant kale.”

Singh sees first-hand the effects working in a garden can have on a student. She remembers a time challenging two groups of students to get corn when she was especially impressed with the group’s teamwork.

“When they finally (got the corn out), the cheers and the enthusiasm that occurred, that erupted from that group … brought me a lot of joy,” she said. “Because I think sometimes we negate the importance of learning in a garden space. It isn’t just planting and growing things, I think there’s a lot of scientific, artistic, mathematics … a lot of art going on.”

It’s not just the educational rewards it can have for kids, but also the mental ones, says Singh. It has been shown that spending 30 minutes outside each day can improve mental health, which she says is more important than ever.

“People are actually dealing with a lot of mental health issues no matter what age you are, and it’s kind of nice to have that space to be in the garden and to just enjoy and learn how to grow food, learn how to harvest, learn how to water,” she said.

“It’s all layered in the teaching of school gardens.”

Agriculture

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vandals burned a hole in the platform at the top of the Somenos Marsh Open Air Classroom early on the morning of Thursday, April 22. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson closes Somenos Marsh viewing platform

Fletcher estimates the damage at more than $5,000.

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map shows new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 11-17. (BCCDC image)
BCCDC says fresh COVID-19 cases down in most Island Health areas

Nanaimo sees its fewest new COVID-19 cases since mid January

More sleeping cabins for the homeless in the Cowichan Valley could soon be put in place if a $2.5-million grant application to the UBCM Strengthening Communities’ Services funding program is successful. (File photo)
Funding sought to expand homeless initiatives in Cowichan Valley

$2.5-million grant would see more sleeping cabins and outreach projects

The old Stanley Gordon school in Lake Cowichan. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette file)
Editorial: Old school properties represent potential for our areas

There are opportunities, often sitting right in the middle of our small communities.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

The conservation service confirmed they do not relocate cougars from settled areas but that euthanasia is not necessarily the fate for an animal in the Fanny Bay area. The hope is that the animal will move on to wild areas. (File photo)
Woman hopes cat-stalking Fanny Bay cougar can avoid euthanization

Conservation officers do not relocate the animals from Vancouver Island

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read