Photo: Maurita Prato, Executive Director of Lush Valley and co-facilitator for the first Farm to School Learning Circle guides participants through activities to stimulate conversation on goals and a vision.

A Farm to School Learning Circle is an 18+ month process to build, strengthen, and/or expand collective farm to school efforts within a local community. 

During this process individuals, organizations and school representatives across the local food system come together, create a common vision and identify short-term goals unique to the community’s needs. As a community of practice, they address systemic barriers to get fresh, local, and sustainable food on the minds and plates of students. Learn more about the Learning Circle model and the 5 Farm to School Learning Circles that F2CC has supported to date.

Thanks to the support of Whole Kids Foundation, Farm to Cafeteria Canada is initiating 2 new Learning Circles this fall. Over the spring we had reached out to past grantee schools and their community partners and invited them to apply to coordinate a Learning Circle. We have selected 2 to move ahead and are excited to have this opportunity to expand the model to more regions in the country. 

F2CC is now excited to share the 2 organizations who will be initiating Learning Circles from 2021-2023:
  • Food for all NBFood For All NB (New Brunswick) is a provincial food security network that envisions a New Brunswick that is informed, connected, and engaged in food security for all. 

Food For All NB is planning to initiate a pilot Learning Circle in Southeast NB (SENB), which boasts 6 farm to school grant recipients and is viewed as a regional champion for community-led approaches to school food. Food For All NB plans to bring together community partners such as farm to school grantees, growers, orchards, local farmers’ markets, regional farming cooperatives, community cafeteria projects, and school districts, among many others involved in farm to school food activities. 

“With so many successful and unique F2S initiatives in SENB, we can only imagine what will emerge throughout this F2S Learning Circle! Time and time again, we’ve seen how these spaces, dedicated to peer learning, support, and connections, become powerful catalysts for amplifying and extending successful initiatives, spreading proven practices, and securing collaborative partnerships”.

  • Headwaters Food and Farming Alliance (Ontario) is a collaborative of community partners and volunteers that supports activities to enhance local food and farming and build a better food system in Dufferin County and the Town of Caledon in Ontario. HFFA is a project of Headwaters Communities In Action, a registered charity.

HFFA has delivered farm to school programming to students at over 25 schools across three school boards, ranging from one-time class visits to deep multi-year relationships, and the collaborative supported Primrose Elementary School to implement its F2CC Farm to School Salad Bar Grant from 2016-2019. HFFA’s Farm to School Team has an ambitious “Big Fresh Goal” to see farm to school activity in all 50 Headwaters schools by 2025: #F2S50x25. HFFA is excited at how the Learning Circle process will accelerate their progress toward that goal. 

This Learning Circle will bring together farmers, chefs, dietitians, educators, community organizations such as Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington (Food & Friends Program), Ecosource, and the Orangeville Food Bank, as well as food service companies, municipal representatives, and those with lived experience to strengthen connections, inform programs and policies, and advance farm to school activity in the region.

“We are very excited to expand this dialog with our friends and partners across the Headwaters region to see what is possible to achieve with our schools in the coming years. We know that impacts are always greater when we gather a broad range of voices and data, build networks and work together on local solutions. This Learning Circle opportunity gives us the ability to dedicate time and resources to this important purpose, while also building on relationships with other regional and national peers, namely Food For All NB and Farm to Cafeteria Canada. We are thrilled to have been selected, grateful for the expert guides and mentorship, and we look forward to learning, unlearning and sharing our stories for the benefit of Farm to School champions and students everywhere.” – Jen Payne, Headwaters Communities In Action Executive Director

F2CC is so pleased to be able to work with both Food For All NB and Headwaters Food and Farming Alliance to advance farm to school in their regions.

For more information about Farm to School Learning Circles visit our Farm to School Learning Circle page

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