Fellows High School, Pembroke, ON
2017-2018 (Year 2)
Fellowes High School, is located in Pembroke, ON in the Ottawa Valley. It is the largest of seven high schools in the school board with a little over 700 students enrolled. Students come from elementary schools within the small city of Pembroke as well as nearby farming communities and small towns. There is a large special education program at Fellowes and alternative learning options as well as a large learning kitchen, a greenhouse and a garden.
Although we had an extremely wet spring last year while also trying to expand our existing garden we managed to succeed in fencing a 100’ X 100’ garden, harvesting many tomatoes, carrots, and squash and growing indoor lettuce, tomatoes, herbs and cucumbers throughout the winter to supply the salad bar!
We presented Fellowes Fresh Food Project to the school board this spring and students shared some of their experiences;
“What I love about the culinary program and the greenhouse project is that we get to use the food that we grow in the food that we cook. Its homegrown and very fresh. Whenever there is a recipe that calls for herbs I can just run up to the greenhouse and cut my own”
Weekly Fresh Pickin’s Salad Bars continue to be a hit with staff and students at Fellowes. Not only the fresh, local and creative menus, but it is affordable too! Although we have an amazing cafeteria service the salad bar is always an attraction that both students and staff look forward to each week. It is planned, prepared and served by students! More and more students are talking about and promoting the salad bar and garden, and this year’s valedictorian even mentioned it in his speech as a highlight of his school experience!
The Fresh Food Project continues to move forward with plans to build a post and beam outdoor classroom structure beside the garden to use as a learning area and gathering area. With help from the school board, Health Unit and local businesses the construction will begin this fall!
Students from Fellowes as well as students from neighboring elementary schools and schools across the board will be invited to use the area to learn and interact with the curriculum in the garden. We hope to continue to build and provide a learning lab garden for all students in the board to learn hands-on about growing, processing and eating fresh food!
This year we offered tomato and pepper plants to about a dozen elementary schools to plant in their own gardens. Teachers from our neighboring elementary school wrote the following after a visit to our school this spring.
“Our grade one classes had the opportunity to visit the Fellowes Fresh Food Program and thoroughly enjoyed our visit. We were provided with engaging, hands on learning opportunities that linked directly to our curriculum. We would love to be able to work together on a more regular basis, providing opportunities for both groups of students to learn together.”
This spring Fellowes was granted a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) in Food Processing by the Ministry of Education. This will allow students to focus their studies in the area of growing and processing their own food, as well as developing entrepreneurship skills and exploring various areas of food sciences related to food processing. We will also be offering a Green Industries class next year to complement Fellowes Fresh Food Project and offer students the opportunity to explore various green industries including agriculture, horticulture, and landscaping!
2016-2017 (Year 1)
When the opportunity arose to grow our Fresh Foods project, Fellows High School was ready!
A few years ago, in an attempt to increase the awareness of food security issues, age a couple of teachers started a community garden at our school . Although Pembroke, Ontario is in a rural area it has a small city feel and many students are not exposed to agriculture and horticulture activities. (In fact, we discovered that some students didn’t even know where a potato comes from).
We also had a greenhouse facility at our high school which had previously been used to grow and sell flowers and a few herbs and vegetables. Recently, however, there has been a shift towards growing more vegetables, and even producing veggies and salad greens during the winter!
The Ministry of Education had recently introduced new rules about providing healthy food to students. This required our cafeteria services to re-evaluate their menu options in search of healthier choices that could still compete with the fast food available at the nearby mall. Students from the Hospitality and Tourism High Skills Major Program at Fellowes were regularly involved in preparing healthy food to be served in the school cafeteria.
With the Farm to School grant provided by Farm to Cafeteria Canada and Whole Kids Foundation we were able to ramp up efforts to engage students and the whole school community in getting more healthy local foods on plates. We were able expand and improve our greenhouse and garden space. This year the garden brought in a great harvest including:
- 1160 lbs of tomatoes
- 17 lbs of onions
- 210 lbs of peppers
- 47 lbs of carrots
- 6 lbs of garlic
- 32 lbs of zucchini
- 74 lbs of squash
- 176 lbs of cucumbers
- 6 lbs of green beans
- 11 lbs of tomatillo
During the fall harvest the hospitality program worked hard to preserve and prepare the fresh produce. Hundreds of samples of fresh-made salsa, loaves, or carrot sticks were handed out regularly to students at breaks and sporting events. The hospitality class offers A Taste of TAPAH in the school cafeteria weekly featuring fresh greens & herbs from the greenhouse or prepared items such as soup, pasta sauces and casseroles made from our plentiful frozen supply of garden produce. The hospitality program also prepares zucchini or pumpkin muffins and fruit crisps for the Food for Learning Program and soups and pasta dishes for the student success room. The new Fresh Pickin’s Salad Bar is becoming a favorite with students and staff.
More and more students are becoming involved in the Fresh Food Project in various ways. Special Education, Green Industries, Science, Physical Education, Hospitality and Tourism, Small Engines, Construction Tec, and Manufacturing Tech. programs have all contributed to the project and are demonstrating pride and ownership! “It’s a natural fit at our school. The Fresh Food Project offers meaningful experiential learning opportunities to students and brings all types of students together.
Neighboring, local elementary schools are also getting involved. A grade 3 class visited the greenhouse this winter to do some planting activities. All schools are being encouraged to start gardens and teach students about food literacy and food security. Plants have been given to elementary schools for sales and gardens and future plans include providing continued support and mentoring to any schools interested in adopting a fresh food focus!