More and more Canadian schools are selling locally-grown vegetables to raise funds for school projects.
The idea is to organize fundraising campaigns by pairing local producers with day care centres and schools. These institutions commit in advance to purchase their vegetable supplies from local farmers who, each fall, deliver a variety of root vegetables to them.
Selling root vegetables to schools: an educational and cost effective choice
Why root vegetables? Because they keep well, which minimizes the risk of wastage following the school delivery. Moreover, youngsters and their parents could benefit from learning more about these veggies. Sale profits go towards school activities, such as cooking workshops or setting up a food bank.
This innovative idea first took root in the province of Manitoba in 2015. In the first year alone, over 350,000 kg of Manitoba-grown root vegetables were sold and delivered to 358 schools and day care centres across the province. The initiative is coordinated by an association of local growers known as Peak of the Market.
Other Canadian provinces have since followed suit, including Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, soon to be joined by Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Newfoundland. These provinces share the Farm to School website.
In Quebec: Montreal launches Schools Take Root
An initiative of the Système alimentaire montréalais (SAM), the project Schools Take Root was launched in fall 2016 in partnership with several organizations. Équiterre and the Lester B. Pearson School Board and its partners took up Manitoba’s idea of organizing fundraisers for students and their families.
The project initiates youngsters to healthy, local and sustainable food by offering them Quebec-grown organic vegetables. In addition, it contributes to the local economy by supporting small producers, while raising the educational community’s environmental awareness, such as reducing transportation mileage, packaging and food waste.
In 2016, two schools were paired up with two producers from Équiterre’s network of family farmers. The students received nearly 1800 kg of beets, carrots, potatoes, celeriac, squash, parsnips and other vegetables. Enough to renovate a schoolyard and offer Christmas baskets!
In 2017, two other Montreal Island school boards [CSDM (Montreal School Board) and Marguerite-Bourgeoys} signed on for the project. Come fall, 13 schools and two early childhood centres will be taking advantage of root vegetable sales.
The dream now is to extend this initiative to all Quebec schools. And why not Canada-wide thanks to the Farm to School players?