Bringing the field into the classroom: How farmers are working with N.L. schools
Kids grow their own savory, snap peas, kale, basil, lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes
A group educating kids about the facts of farming is blossoming across Newfoundland and Labrador, with students learning the ABCs — apples, basil and carrots, for instance.
Agriculture in the Classroom N.L. (AITC-NL) is non-profit group that works with teachers and agriculture professionals.
"We love getting our farmers into the classrooms so we can have our consumers, our future generations, educated so they can make their own choices," said co-ordinator Christa Wright.
It's one of eight organizations across the country bringing the field into the class.
One of the programs AITC runs is Little Green Thumbs. Wright established it six years ago, providing five classes with the supplies for an indoor garden.
Since then, the demand has grown exponentially.
Maureen Foley, who was hired two years ago to coordinate the program, said the demand is high because it is such a valuable tool for learning in all subject areas.
"It became such a hands-on resource and a great tool for the teachers to accomplish what they wanted in their science program, and social studies, language arts, math," she told CBC Radio's Central Morning Show.
"It just goes through all the curriculum."
There are now 28 gardens and 38 vermicomposting kits in classes in Newfoundland and Labrador, and a waiting list for more.
From germinating kits to farm visits
Teachers are given equipment which includes a lighting system, peat pellets, germinating kits and seeds. When the seeds sprout, the classes transfer plants to Earth boxes, which are heated under a 600-watt light bulb.
Throughout the school year, volunteers from the agriculture community come and mentor the kids.
On a lucky day, the kids visit them on the farm.
Some of the seeds used this year include kale, savory, snap peas, purple peacock pole beans, basil, lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes.
The things in the supermarkets they see are not as scary as they think when they grow it themselves and taste it.- Maureen Foley
Foley said the program offers more than what can be taught from a book.
"They're learning where their food comes from. They're learning that they can grow it themselves," she said.
"They're learning healthy eating and healthy options and that the things in the supermarkets they see are not as scary as they think when they grow it themselves and taste it."
The teachers in the Little Green Thumbs program also see the positive results.
"[A teacher in Labrador] noticed that the children are starting to bring in healthy foods to eat because they want the worms to have a healthy diet and they want to add to their composting bin," said Wright.
AITC-NL is funded through support from the Newfoundland and Labrador and federal governments, as well as various private donors. With the demand for programs, Wright said, the organization can partner with others in the community.
with files from the Central Morning Show