The Food First Foundation is a registered charity that supports food programs, including gardening and composting programs, in schools across the Northwest Territories. The support we provide comes in the form of supplies and funding primarily, along with lesson plans tailored for our Northern climate that teachers can use to engage their students in the hands-on, experiential learning that gardening and composting provides.
Learning to Plant Seeds.
The NWT has the second highest prevalence of food insecurity in Canada, with 21.6% of residents identifying as food insecure. Recent data shows that 30% of children in the NWT live in food insecure households. Schools are key players in battling food insecurity in their communities. In order to reduce food insecurity, especially in remote communities where the cost of food is astronomical, it is essential that children and youth learn food skills to allow them to provide food for themselves and others in the future. One component of this learning is knowing where your food comes from, and perhaps even growing food for yourself.
Leafy greens starting to grow.
Gardening programs have been shown to engage students in learning about food and getting them interested in food. These programs show kids how to grow food, and how to prepare what they’ve grown. The gardening and composting support we offer complements our cooking and nutrition education program called Taste Makers and helps students learn about the complete cycle of food: from land to table and back again.
Growing a windowsill garden.
Leafy greens grown under a Growlight Garden.
This past school year (2020/2021), we sent gardening and composting supplies and/or funding to 13 schools in seven NWT communities, benefitting over 1,500 students. NWT schools run gardening programs that are unique to their location and their needs.
Harvesting Pea Pods.
At Sir John Franklin in Yellowknife students have an outdoor garden in the spring and use the indoor gardens from West Coast Seeds to complement their cooking lessons. At Deh Gah School in Fort Providence, students from the carpentry skills club made garden beds to host the school garden. At Ecole St. Joseph School in Yellowknife, students grew food that was then used in their cooking classes using our Taste Makers program. At Fort Smith’s Paul W. Kaesar School there are six indoor gardens in classrooms and garden boxes in the foyer where students can expand their knowledge year-round.
Learning to harvest baby leaf lettuce.
We can’t thank West Coast Seeds enough for the support over the years. The discounts offered on supplies and the donated seeds to all participating schools allow our funding to go that much further, giving more schools and students the opportunity to garden.
Harvesting carrots grown in a raised garden bed.