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

Port Hardy Minor Hockey logo
Port Hardy Minor Hockey hands out year-end awards

The ‘Outstanding Parent Volunteer Award’ went to Kimberly Hunt and Blair Isaac.

Melissa Milligan is working to build a disc golf course in Port Hardy. (Submitted photo)
Port Hardy’s disc golf survey results are in

138 people in total took the survey, with 94 per cent voting yes.

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations in Gold River area

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Mya Servatius and Marilyn May handing out gift baskets to seniors. (Michelle Tremblay photo)
NISS students practice kindness by giving gifts to seniors

This project wasn’t part of a class at NISS, or for any extra credit.

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Most Canadians plan to get COVID-19 vaccine, but safety fears drive hesitancy: poll

This comes as confidence in governments is plummeting in provinces being hit hardest by the pandemic

Marathon of Hope runner Terry Fox is shown in a 1981. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/CP)
Terry Fox’s legacy of resilience resonates during COVID-19 crisis, says brother

Fred Fox said his brother’s legacy of resilience has taken on renewed resonance as COVID-19 rages on

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

Most Read