The seeds have been planted for a very fruitful community partnership to grow even more! Roots to Harvest and Lakehead Public Schools have officially announced plans to create an Urban Training Farm on the grounds of the Victoria Park Training Centre located on South Lillie Street. The Victoria Park Training Centre is home to the Lakehead Adult Education Centre and the Lakehead Public Schools Program department. Work on the Urban Farm will commence this Spring.
“Urban farms foster incredible opportunities for community engagement,” says Erin Beagle, Executive Director of Roots to Harvest. “This project and partnership with Lakehead Public Schools will positively impact the surrounding neighbourhood and will provide countless opportunities for authentic discovery for students, employment for young people, and will be a great asset for the whole city.”
The Roots to Harvest and Lakehead Public Schools Urban Garden will be developed in the field between the Jim McCuaig Education Centre and the Victoria Park Training Centre and will feature:
- Demonstration and Training Plots
- For use by organizations seeking to establish their own gardens for use by community and/or client groups.
- School Gardens
- For use by elementary or secondary school groups wishing to engage in experiential education and learn about growing food.
- Urban Farm Fields
- Used for growing vegetables sold by Roots to Harvest, processed for use in cooking programs and with Lakehead Public Schools.
- Seed Saving Garden
- For the development of regionally adapted seed.
- Perennial Berries, Wild Flower Garden and Fruit Trees
- Two different sections with fruits and berries for sale and cooking programs.
- Bees Yard
- The bee yard will contain bee hives used to produce honey on site and serve as an education and observation area for tour groups.
- Rabbit Hutch
- A rabbit hutch for yearly raising of rabbits to be used as educational tools for participants and school groups.
“We are extremely pleased to work closely with our community partner Roots to Harvest to create the Urban Training Farm on our property,” says Ian MacRae, Director of Education, Lakehead Public Schools. “Over the years, our students and staff have greatly benefited from the numerous unique projects and opportunities from our partnership with Roots to Harvest.”
Last summer, 11 Lakehead Public Schools students had the opportunity learn about agriculture, earn money and more importantly, earn credits at the same time through the Lakehead Public Schools/Roots to Harvest Focus on Youth (FOY) program. Following the success of the “Farm to Caf” initiative to introduce more local foods in the high school cafeterias, the Get Fresh Café was launched at Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute. Roots to Harvest staff work with Westgate Cafeteria staff and numerous local food producers to provide students with seasonal fresh from scratch food every day in the cafeteria.
“Roots to Harvest has enjoyed the close partnership that has been established with Lakehead Public Schools,” says Beagle. ‘The Urban Farm is an exciting evolution of that partnership. We look forward to the endless learning and programming possibilities that the Urban Farm will provide for all Lakehead Public Schools students.”