Delta School District offers farm school program to students

With grocery prices soaring and hundred mile diets more popular than ever, more and more young people are taking an interest in where their food comes from.

High school students will transform a vacant lot in south Delta into a fully functional farm

Graham Harkley will be teaching grade 10-12 students about farming. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

With grocery prices soaring and hundred mile diets more popular than ever, more and more young people are taking an interest in where their food comes from.

That's one of the reasons why the Delta School District is offering a new farming program.

Starting in September, about 30 students will be tasked with transforming eight acres of vacant property in south Delta into a farm.

Right now the land is overrun with tall grass and even taller blackberry bushes but teacher Graham Harkley sees vast potential under the weeds.

"I had this epiphany of interesting things we could do with it," Harkley says.

"We will have multiple fields, successive planting, roads, community plots, a barn, tractors and some animals hopefully."

Students enrolled in the program will spend half of their time on the farm and the other half at their regular schools.

Relying on farmers

Harkley doesn't have a background in agriculture so he will be relying on local farmers like Christine Terpsma to help him with the program.

Farmer Christine Terpsma will help teach students. (LinkedIn)

Terpsma says students will learn about much more than planting potatoes.

"When they think of farmers, they might envision someone standing out in the field in overalls but one of the messages of this program is that farming is so much more than that," Terpsma says.

"If students have an interest in business or the environment, it's sometimes difficult for students to see that applied to agriculture, but they should know there are so many opportunities."

Multitude of backgrounds

These Delta Secondary School students have signed up for the program, which starts in September. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Students who have expressed an interest in the program come from several different backgrounds.

Some grew up on farms and others were raised in condos.

"I wanted to do it to see what it was like because I've never really done this kind of stuff," says grade 10 student Cassandra Pau.

"It's just so interesting. Instead of being stuck inside a classroom for six hours, you're outside in the fresh air. It would be cool to see how plants grow, because I really don't know how to do it."

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