News Local

Carseland students making healthy choices

By Monique Massiah, Strathmore Standard

Good nutrition goes hand and hand with a good mind in the community of Carseland where Carseland School has been partnering with local businesses and the farming community in order to provide kids with a farm fresh snack.

 

In the Spring of 2016, students from Grade 5 and 6 at Carseland School began planning the construction of three cedar garden boxes that would be placed in front of the school as part of a community garden project.

From there students became interested in the concept of organic farming and contacted local organic carrot farmer Cam Beard.

From Beard the students learned what goes into creating fertile soil for their garden boxes.

Beard offered to provide the school with some of his carrots for students to have as a healthy snack. The students were responsible for unloading the carrots on arrival, washing, prepping and assisting with cutting and distributing them to the school’s student body.

“When we started planning the garden project, that’s when we started looking at the organic soil and the soil that we needed for the plants. That’s when we contacted Cam for some answers for the soil,” said Claire Wade, a Carseland School Grade 6 teacher.

She explained that Beard offered the school carrots from his organic carrot farm, the carrots that he is unable to sell as they are not perfectly formed.

“I started picking them up from the farm, the kids would wash them, and disperse them amongst the different grades,” she said.

Each week classrooms were given their own Tupperware of carrots and teachers could provide the carrots as a healthy snack. The school’s canteen also provided free carrots if students wanted them at lunch.

The farm fresh carrot project has got kids at the school more engaged about the food they eat. “It’s been great,” said Wade. The students can’t wait to have their carrot snack.

“When we don’t have carrots they are begging ‘can we have carrots, when are the carrots coming?’ It’s a delicious snack,” said Wade.

Last year, the school participated in a program that saw students creating a garden, building self watering garden boxes and learning about flowers, herbs and vegetables last spring.

The students raised about $6,000 and with local community support from private individuals, service clubs, and businesses.They installed garden boxes out in front of the school.

“Having the “farm fresh carrots project” as a grade 5/6 responsibility, created teamwork amongst students. These students are proud to have a hand in providing healthy choices to Carseland school students and staff. This has given the students the opportunity to “be the change” and take ownership for their wellness and that of others,” said Wade.

This year the program will continue, the students and staff have formed a connection with Cam of Cam’s Carrots and Rosemary Wotske of Poplar Bluff Organics with the hope of learning about healthy choices and fostering an environment of wellness.

A new spinoff benefit from the farm fresh project is a wellness newsletter being planned by students. The newsletter will detail health benefits of carrots and other fresh vegetables. The program also helped to create a dialogue between students about making healthy food choices.

According to Wade, providing students with nourishment sets the stage for a positive, ready to learn, atmosphere. Students feel cared for and in return care for others.

The carrot has provided the students with an analogy of how to flourish. It takes the proper soil and tools for a carrot to grow. People require a growing environment that includes nourishment, nurturing, and love. Students are now more aware of creating an environment where they can grow best. Having this project fosters communication for this social-emotional learning.

The school hopes to have Cam’s Carrots and Poplar Bluff Organics visit the school when students are preparing their garden boxes for planting. Their knowledge and expertise on heirloom/heritage seeds will provide a great learning opportunity for students.

This year, the school has started a breakfast program as well. Students have also delved deeper into the topic of nutrition.

Wade contacted Buy-Low Foods from Langdon, who is the sponsor of the breakfast program. In the program, students are offered fresh fruits in the morning like apples and oranges, with porridge.