CPHO Dr. Theresa Tam,  MP Julie Dabrosin and  Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor learn about the incredible garden at Norman Johnston Alternate School from student Maddie Richards. 

Photo: MP Julie Dabrusin, Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, CPHO Dr. Theresa Tam,  Kim Herrington from Whole Kids Foundation,  and Joanne Bays from F2CC planting a tree at Norman Johnston Alternate School to celebrate Just Dig In.

2017-2018 (Year 2)
Norman Johnston Alternate School, Glouchester, ON
Total Student Enrollment: 253

Norman Johnston (NJ) is an alternate high school nestled in a small hamlet on the east side of Ottawa. We cater to students who face challenges finding their path in a traditional high school setting and seek a more individualized and flexible program in a supportive school community. Healthy eating; specifically, through growing, making, and consuming real food is a pillar of NJ. The gardening and foods classes alongside a team of dedicated staff have led the charge in the Farm to School initiatives here at NJ. The following are just a few of the people who have positively impacted our F2S program:

Laura Cardiff, gardening teacher extraordinaire, along with her students almost doubled the yield of our fall harvest this year and helped pack the NJ freezers with home-grown produce. They have grown swiss chard, kale, tomatoes, strawberries, beans, peas, kohlrabi, beets, radishes, and more. The students in her class also learned to grow micro-greens, herbs, and hydroponic leafy greens for our F2S salad buffets over the winter.

Maddie Richards, gardening student and school ambassador has been involved with our gardening program for the past year and a half. Not only has she learned to nurture seedlings and increase yields through square-foot gardening, she has also found the confidence and the strength to share her passion with other students as a classroom mentor. Maddie was also caught by the paparazzi showing Minister of Health, the Honorable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, our F2S garden.

Mark Frankish, culinary program champion, takes charge of a small group of food and nutrition students that prepares free lunches for other students served at Chez Norm. Students look forward to our weekly salad bars that have been made possible through Farm 2 School. The food program operates in partnership with the garden and promotes a Farm to Table philosophy. Fresh produce grown in our gardening program, brought in by fellow students, and used in the daily fare offered to our student body free of charge. NJ’s food program has been able to grow through positive impacts of the F2S grant: Our ability to process and save garden produce safely has increasing through an investment in an industrial dishwasher, stainless preparation tables, and a new oven.

Melody Pretty, culinary and gardening student, has seen both sides of the equation and is an all around advocate of the farm to table philosophy. Melody encourages students and staff to try new things that are served at Chez Norm and is always willing to help out in the kitchen for a chance to use our new industrial dishwasher.

Sally Collins, healthy eating enthusiast, helps promote our F2S salad bars and healthy eating events. Sally organizes cooking seminars that helps student learn about our foods program and increase their access to nutritious foods. Students routinely find her munching on sweet peppers as if they were apples and she currently championing the use of local crickets as an alternative source of protein.

Next year, our school will begin offering a Specialized High Skills Major program (SHSM) in health and wellness, which will build on the work we have been doing with the Farm 2 School grant. Students who complete a specific bundle of eight courses in health and wellness, earn industry certifications, and gain important skills on the job through cooperative education placements will earn a Health and Wellness SHSM certification on their high school diplomas. Overall, we see a great future for health and wellness at Norman Johnston Alternate.


2016-2017 (Year 1)
Norman Johnston Alternate School, Glouchester, ON
Last week, on Tuesday October 2nd, students, teachers and local community volunteers sat down and enjoyed a delicious Farm to School salad bar meal prepared by students at Norman Johnston Secondary Alternate Program in Ottawa.

This meal set the tone for the exciting events of the day including an announcement of $1.2 Million in funding over 3 years from the Public Health Agency of Canada and additional funding in the amount of $330,000 from Whole Kids Foundation for Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s new national initiative, Farm to School: Canada Digs In!  

Students, day care kids and community volunteers lining up to enjoy  for the salad bar at Norman Johnston Alternate School. 
Students, day care kids and community volunteers lining up to enjoy  for the salad bar at Norman Johnston Alternate School.

In 2016 Norman Johnston was awarded a $10,000 Farm to School Salad Bar grant from Farm to Cafeteria Canada to strengthen its salad bar program and engage its students in a sustainable food system in a variety of hands-on ways.

These strong Farm to School elements were all on display on Tuesday when the school was visited by the Minister of Health, the Honorable Ginettte Petitpas Taylor; Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam; Kim Herrington from Whole Kids Foundation; Julie Dabrosin, Chair of the Liberal Food Policy Caucus; school board representatives, campus students from Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, students from a nearby preschool, community volunteers, and a number of other guests who had been invited to take part in the celebrations.  Teacher Sally Collins led guests on a tour of the school’s facilities including the breakfast room where students daily have access to a healthy breakfast and snack and the foods room where students were busy preparing healthy, freshly grown food for the next day. The guests were then invited to experience the self-serve salad bar. The salad bar is enjoyed by Norman Johnston students at least twice a week and is prepared by the Food and Nutrition Studies class led by teacher Mark Frankish.

Fresh produce from the school garden contributes to the salad bar. Student Maddie Richards gave the guests an in-depth tour of what is growing and the different ways the students have learned to prepare produce from the garden. Following the tour, distinguished guests, along with Joanne Bays, the national manager of Farm to Cafeteria Canada planted a self-pollinating apple tree, the start of Norman Johnston’s student orchard which will complement their garden.

MP Julie Dabrusin, Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, CPHO Dr. Theresa Tam,  Kim Herrington from Whole Kids Foundation,  and Joanne Bays from F2CC planting a tree at Norman Johnston Alternate School to celebrate Just Dig In.
MP Julie Dabrusin, Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, CPHO Dr. Theresa Tam,  Kim Herrington from Whole Kids Foundation,  and Joanne Bays from F2CC planting a tree at Norman Johnston Alternate School to celebrate Just Dig In.

After the tour, the guests, students and teachers gathered in the gardening room to hear speeches about the importance of Farm to School programs in Canadian schools. Joanne Bays spoke about how more than 1,100 Canadian schools serving 755,000 students are known to have Farm to School programs and have self-identified on Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s School Food Map. She is excited that the increase in funding support will help that number rise. Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam expressed the importance of healthy eating to overall health and she said, “I can think of no better partners in promoting healthy living than our nation’s schools”. Minister Ginnette Petitpas Taylor spoke next and talked about how Farm to School “fits our overall vision for a healthy Canada that is based on healthy living, healthy minds and healthy eating.”

student_garden_norman_johnston_highschoolstudent_garden_norman_johnston_highschoolThe staff and students at Norman Johnston are committed to healthy food and transforming their school’s food system to the extent that this has become part of the school culture. Their demonstration of the impact of Farm to School programs on student learning and well being was an inspiration to all of the guests.

And it doesn’t stop there. This fall Norman Johnston will be constructing a greenhouse that will, according to gardening teacher Laura Cardiff “lengthen the growing season, provide even more food for the students and even more opportunities to learn about sustainable food security, horticulture and nutrition”  

Norman Johnston is just one of the inspiring stories from Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s recent salad bar program that, with funding from the Whole Kids Foundation, has helped 50 schools in BC and Ontario introduce salad bars into their schools.  

With the newly announced support from PHAC and the Whole Kids Foundation, the Farm to School: Canada Digs In! initiative will expand to schools and campuses in five Canadian provinces: BC, ON, QC, NB and NL, helping bring local, healthy food into schools and on the plates of more Canadian students.

Now is the time to share your own Farm to School activities and be entered into a draw to win a prize!

It’s Farm to School Month and during this month (the entire month of October) you can upload photos of your school Digging In! and win 1 of 3 Farm to School Grants. Click here for more information.  Be sure to register by October 31st.

For more photos and videos from the announcement search #digincanada on twitter and facebook.

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