Ecole Secondaire Hanmer, Hamner, ON
2017-2018 (Year 2)

We owe much of the success of our Farm 2 School project to a very dedicated and hard working senior, M. Henri Dufresne. M. Henri is of the young age of 89 years old and lives near Ecole secondaire Hanmer, a small high school of 180 students. He’s also an active citizen of the town and a member of the senior’s club.

The garden is at the heart of our project and without M. Henri it would not have been possible. From the very beginning when we had the vision of bringing vegetables from the community garden to the salad bar, M. Henri volunteered to take on this task and received help from one student last summer.

After the first year, our Farm 2 School team definitely wanted to increase student involvement in the garden. We started off the school year by inviting a member of the Sudbury Community Garden Network to host a workshop with grade 7 students on how to winterize a garden and how to plant garlic. Students very much enjoyed their day and many were eager for spring to arrive to continue working in the garden. This day was also a chance for students to meet M. Henri.

As M. Henri’s presence grew in the school, many students grew more curious of him and the work that he did. Some students even volunteered to help him with the seedlings in the school cafeteria. Lucky for the students and the school garden, M. Henri is now employed by the school as the school lunch monitor. He’s developed many good relationships with students and they come to help him with various gardening tasks during recess. It is so nice to see students taking pride and ownership of their school community garden.

During the spring, students from all grades have helped to clean up the school community garden area and some even stained garden boxes. Now that summer is here, some students will even be volunteering their time to help M. Henri with the gardens.

It’s beautiful to see that this project is not only bringing food from farm to plate but is also flourishing intergenerational relationships. There’s nothing like seeing a senior being able to pass on their knowledge and skills to future generations. M. Henri definitely plays a special part in this school’s community.

2016-2017 (Year 1)

École secondaire Hanmer is a small French high school situated in a rural Northern Ontario community with a population size of 180 students (grade 7-12). Our journey leading up to the Farm2School project started back in 2012 when we won a local community contest called the “Ugliest School Yard Contest”. The school grounds received a makeover by transforming the abandoned tennis court area into a beautiful community garden with 8 raised garden beds. At the time, we didn’t know, this was only the beginning of our journey.

Since 2012, we have also started a composting program, received an EcoSchool certification and remodeled the school cafeteria in order to make it a more inviting place for students. The hardworking team of students, parents, school staff and community members that made many of these projects a reality also had a vision of bringing some of the garden’s harvest into the school cafeteria. The Farm 2 School grant provided us with just that opportunity!

We embarked on this new journey by approaching a key individual, the school cafeteria food service provider, Joanne Lecour. Joanne runs an independently owned food service company within the school cafeteria, however Joanne is much more than a business owner. She is truly part of the school community and cares very much about the well-being of the students. Joanne was very eager to integrate a salad bar as part of the school cafeteria menu since it meant providing healthier options to students. As a business owner, this was a risky move since she didn’t know if students would actually purchase salads from the salad bar.

Our first salad bar was in April and all students had the opportunity to make their own free salad. Almost all students took advantage of the free salad and to their surprise, they actually loved it! Ever since the first salad bar, Joanne has been offering the salad bar weekly in her cafeteria and each week the number of students and teachers purchasing salads is growing! Joanne has even shared that her profits have not suffered since offering the salad bar.

This summer a group of students and parents will be taking care of a few raised garden beds in our community garden in order to provide Joanne with some locally grown vegetables, which will be offered in the salad bar. Our vision is finally becoming a reality, the school cafeteria will be able to source some of its food from our community garden. We are also planning to start growing lettuce for our salad bar inside the school as class project. Students and school staff are really looking forward to next year’s salad bar!

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