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Agriculture weaving its way in to the Delta School District curriculum

By BYCOOP admin - Posted on 20 February 2016

From the Delta Optimist.....


It has been said that education is the highest form of human capital. When it comes to education about agriculture, there has always been this kind of debate about whether it should be a vocational or general subject.

I am of the view it should be both and about a year ago we had this conversation at the legislature in Victoria. Delta North MLA Scott Hamilton arranged for myself, superintendent Dianne Turner, school board chairperson Laura Dixon and KPU's Dr. Kent Mullinix to meet with Peter Fassbender, who was minister of education at the time, and Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick.

In that meeting we discussed what we were doing in our schools with Project Pickle and described our vision for the future that would see children in our school district exposed to farming and agriculture throughout their K-12 experience in the hopes that some of them would one day pursue jobs in the food economy. Last Saturday I was present at the well-attended Farm Roots Mini-School open house at Boundary Beach Elementary and had some wonderful discussions with local farmers. In attendance were Susan Snow from Snow Farms, Alicia Guichon from Backroads Family Farm Market, Ron Van Marrewyk from Westcoast Vegetables, Southlands neighbour to the north Brad Semke from Century Group, farmer and councillor Ian Paton, Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington, district staff and many more.

Most importantly, there were kids that are already keen on participating in the program in attendance, and there were families from out of district that are hoping to enroll.

I caught up with Paton after the event and asked him what he thought of the work in progress. This is what he had to say: "Where we live, agriculture and farming is huge. Always has been. Over the past few years I have been happy to have been a part of the discussion as to how best to support educational initiatives amongst the farming community. The future looks bright on that front here in Delta and I am looking forward to being a part of the journey."

Dovetailing agriculture and food with regular curriculum is challenging at times. I visit classes that integrate programming with their math, science, PE and botany classes. For the little guys, it's just getting out of the classroom and out to the school farms that provides the thrill of the day.

A shout out to Denise Unrau for a fine example of creativity in course planning at Delview Secondary. At a meeting on Tuesday, she articulated how she is going to weave agriculture in to her Medieval Ages Social Studies class with her two blocks and 52 Grade 8 students.

Agrarianism, serfdom, estate and farm development were all crucial in feeding the masses. Unrau's kids will use seed charts to plan their farms and taste the product in conjunction with the foods program.

When the question arose around tools for the kids, vice principal Mike Annondale, who was also at the meeting, suggested that metal shop would be creating trowels and that wood shop could provide trellises for courtyard expansion and frames for farm expansion.

This type of collaboration will ensure there is engagement amongst the kids. They are not only learning something, they are having a lot of fun in a unique environment and that will bode well for them and us in the future.

Mike Schneider is founder of Project Pickle and likes to write about growing, cooking and eating food.

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We are making some headway here. Many larger businesses recognize the positive optics of associating with an educational inititiative particulary when it comes to food and agriculture.

The job now is to bang the Project Pickle drum to garner support from the private sector to work with governmant and other stakeholders to keep this programming sustainable.

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