It’s been more than a year since École KLO Middle School received their Power Full Kids | Future Growers container farm - a futuristic growing system that has allowed students to produce fresh vegetables and herbs, growing it themselves. The farm has become a unique teaching tool, while also creating a sustaining meal program for their students.
On a recent trip to Kelowna, President’s Choice Children’s Charity’s Lisa Battistelli and Andrea Elliott got to visit the school and experience how the farm has touched students, staff and community – providing a unique learning opportunity, that has the potential to make a lasting impact.
Karla Lockwood, Environmental Studies teacher at KLO, who also works with her students as part of the Future Growers program, says the purpose of the farm has grown beyond original expectations.
“We are teaching students about food security and the need for access to fresh food,” Karla says. “We can take the produce right out of the farm and feed our students ensuring they have healthy green leafy vegetables, and the revenue generated from the farm can go straight back into the meal program – ensuring there are healthy meals and snacks available to anyone who needs it.”
Some students from Karla’s grade 9 Environmental Studies class have recognized the impact the program has made inside and outside the Farm. “I’ve learned a lot about food insecurity; how a lot of students go without food and don’t say anything, so it makes me feel good sharing the produce that I’ve grown with my school community,” says Tarren, grade 9. “Before this program, I didn’t like getting my hands dirty working with plants. But it has opened my eyes to that I do like working with plants and has inspired me to pursue a career in plant studies.”
Another student, Jabari, discovered his own personal growth from his time working in the farm and learning about food security. “This program has made me less wasteful with food because I know not everyone has something to eat every day. I also like to cook more since starting this program. My favourite is using herbs, like thyme.”
The Future Growers farm touches every aspect of the school and can fit into every curriculum - from math to business class, where students create a business model to sell produce to bring revenue back into the school to supplement our meal program. KLO has also partnered with a local farm that is growing bugs for human consumption. They use the organic waste from the farm to feed the bugs. This partnership has also inspired a school-wide compost program.
“The purpose of the farm is to feed our student's bodies and minds,” Karla says. “No student should be without food in their day. Our goal is to be able to feed kids and build community, starting inside school and branching out.”