The Eastern Townships region is alive with initiatives and partnerships involving schools and local farms. Together, and with the support of community organizations, they are compete with the best in the country to take school food supply further.
The history of learning circles
Inspired by the highly successful Farm to School learning labs developed in the United States, Farm to Cafeteria Canada has adapted and expanded the model. A series of learning circles have been established or are currently operating in various communities in Canada (St John’s, Vancouver, and the Haida Gwaii Islands), including the Eastern Townships Learning Circle in Quebec in 2022.
A common food-centred vision for Eastern Townships schools
Members of the Eastern Townships Learning Circle
Members of the learning circle represent primary or secondary schools, market garden operations, community organizations, associations, one CIUSSS, MRCs, etc. Among the members of the Eastern Townships Learning Circle (see full list below), there are three that stand out on account of the significant level of their involvement:
École primaire de Sutton
Proactive in involving its students in food literacy projects, the Ecole primaire Sutton counts among its achievements: caring for a community garden, setting up a four-season greenhouse project, creating menus featuring local products, thematic cooking workshops on seasonal vegetables, and even the creation of a cold room. Click here to find out more
Les Jardins Naturlutte
An organic farm located in Ulverton and a member of the Family Farmers Network, the farm has been partnering with schools in the area for many years. Since 2018, it has been involved in Schools Take Root fundraising campaigns with dozens of primary and secondary schools in the Estrie and Centre-du-Québec regions. It also supplies vegetables at reduced rates to école secondaire du Tournesol in Windsor and this enables the school to provide healthy snacks for its students. From an educational standpoint, the farm hosts large numbers of students of various levels to help them learn more about the market gardening business. Click here to fin out more
Alliance sherbrookoise pour des jeunes en santé
The Alliance brings together partners from the Sherbrooke area, including a number of farms that are committed to promoting healthy lifestyles among young people, ages 0 to 25, and their families. It has developed various projects that help facilitate access to fresh local produce, such as “Un fermier à mon école” (which also encourages in-class cooking workshops, recipe collections, videos, and murals, etc.), as well as “Un fermier dans mon quartier” and “Un fermier à mon camp de jour”, to encourage the establishment of market garden stands in targeted areas. Click here to find out more
The other members of the Eastern Townships Learning Circle are:
An English-language primary school located in Lac-Brome, which received a Farm to School grant in 2020. The school has developed its own local supply network and established a beautiful teaching garden to supply its cafeteria.
École secondaire Massey-Vanier
A high school located in Cowansville. Through a combination of greenhouse, vegetable garden, composting and cooking, students are engaged in a variety of food literacy activities that nurture the ties that bind them from the land to the table.
École secondaire de la Haute-Ville
A high school located in Granby. It has established culinary squads, a salad bar and a greenhouse in which to grow local produce.
École secondaire du Tournesol
A high school located in Windsor. Thanks to the upcoming installation of a solar greenhouse, the school will be expanding its environmental education program. Students will be able to grow food that is served directly in the cafeteria and used for snacks.
École secondaire de l’Escale
A high school located in Val-des-Sources that received a Farm to School grant in 2018. It works closely with the Coopérative de solidarité alimentaire des Sources. Its connections to local producers has help make the establishment of a salad bar stocked with local products a significant project.
CIUSSS de l’Estrie
The second largest CIUSSS in Quebec. Prevention, including school-based services, are among the services offered by the institution, which serves nearly 13,000 km2, stretching from Lac-Mégantic to Ange-Gardien.
Covering more than 2,270 km2, it is comprised of three towns, three townships and eight municipalities. Farming represents a major portion of its development: it includes nearly 600 farms that contribute significantly to the region’s economy.
Market gardening and agri-food sectors
An organic farm, member of the Family Farmers Network located in Stanbridge East. The farm produces a wide variety of vegetables and small fruits and is committed to building relationships with schools. It has been involved with Schools Take Root for many years.
Les Jardins du Pied de Céleri, a solidarity co-operative
An organic farm located in Dunham and a member of the Family Farmers Network, it has set itself the goal of strengthening the ties between consumers, farmers and their environment. For two years, it has helped supply the kitchens at CHU Sainte-Justine.
Jardin Douce Amer
A market garden farm located in Knowlton and member of the Terroir Solidaire co-op.
Artisan du Vivant
The brainchild of Julien Drouin-Bouffard, this is an organic market garden, food-processing, wild-harvest nursery and edible landscaping company and member of the Terroir Solidaire co-op.
A farm offering local organic greenhouse products located in Bromont and member of the Terroir Solidaire co-op.