Food for Thought- School Gardening

Organization Sponsor: Dr. Arthur Hines Elementary School


Program Description

Where does our food come from It's a simple question that generated the Slow Food movement. In Nova Scotia the answer has schoolchildren gardening, farmers' markets thriving, and people preserving our unique culinary heritage.

The garden at Dr. Arthur Hines was spearheaded several years ago in the spring of 2004 by Kathy Aldous, a program co-ordinator of health promotion at the Hants Shore Community Health Centre and a former board member of Slow Food Nova Scotia ( Aldous's plan was to get students involved with the production of vegetables while simultaneously—and surreptitiously—promoting healthy eating. "The children are learning skills in the garden and kitchen," says Aldous, "skills that are being lost in this modern world of two-income families and convenient supermarkets." Even though the program has had its challenges, such as finding time to integrate it into the school day and consistent funding, the garden is becoming an important part of the school. "It's attracting the attention of parents, teachers, and the community," says Aldous. "I believe all schools should consider having a garden."

There is a triangular relationship between the person who grows the food, the person who prepares it, and the person who consumes it," says Kienapple. "This relationship is essential not only to the success of our local agricultural production but also to the preservation of Nova Scotia's culinary heritage."

Tending a garden is the perfect place to start. Students plant seeds in the spring and harvest the produce in the fall; then, in the small kitchen off the gym, three Grade 6 students at a time take turns working with a supervisor, who teaches them how to prepare lunches with the vegetables they have grown. Finally, the fruit of their labour is sold and served through the school's lunch program.

One day each fall, the menu gets a boost from Chef Michael Howell, the co-owner of Tempest restaurant in Wolfville, N.S., and a Slow Food member. "I am motivated by a belief that slow food and its ideals are important to impart to the younger generation," says Howell. While the children are both nervous and excited, they feed off the energy and immediacy of preparing the food.

The Slow Food movement began in 1986, when fast-food giant McDonald's opened its first restaurant in Rome on a site near the Spanish Steps.The four Slow Food principles are to promote local, fresh, and healthy food produced by small-scale artisans; to encourage natural growing practices, especially organic and sustainable methods; to preserve our culinary history and culture so we have diversity in food choices; and to reconnect producers and consumers so they can educate each other.

Funding Sources: 

Dr. Arthur Hines Elementary School

Strategies For Sustainability: 

Involving students in all aspect of the project. They prepare the gardens, plant seeds,water, pick , cook and eat. The whole school loves the the harvest festival and eating the fresh food.

Impact Of Program: 

All the kids in this school participate in this project.

Evaluation Tools: 

Feedback from the teacher.

Key Elements Towards Success: 

Having teacher passionate about gardening and a school that supports the time devoted to it.

Challenges To Meet Them: 

Gardening is hard work. Getting kids to tend the garden over the summer.

Length and Stage of Project: 

This project began in 2004 and has become part of the of the school's curriculum.

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