By: Leigh Anne Cecchetto & Victoria Armit
Do you remember planting seeds in your classroom as a child? Watching them germinate? Holding and presenting that plant with two hands to your parent with pride?
This is a school activity that has been around in classrooms for generations. Grow a seed, nurture it, take it home and plant it.
The City of Greater Sudbury embarks on the next phase of the Healthy Kids Community Challenge with the Choose to Boost Your Veggies and Fruit campaign, and through that, students get to participate in this an age-old classroom activity, but with a twist.
This year, the program is introducing the link to community gardens.
Through the involvement of Sudbury’s Foodshed Project, “Cultivate Your Neighbourhood’ has sprouted. The program aims to offer children — in elementary schools and in neighbourhoods — with the opportunity to grow vegetables and fruit, and connect children and families to community gardens.
Volunteers have been assisting in classrooms across the city, working with hundreds of children, providing workshops to get more students planting in their classrooms. Each participating classroom has planted seeds, nurtured them and watched them germinate and mature.
Most classrooms have re-potted their plants to give them more room to grow, and all have taken turns watering and bringing them outside on warm days to harden off and to encounter some friendly pollinators.
In addition, all participating schools will plant their seedlings in their nearest community garden and children are being encouraged to visit their planted seedlings and care for them all summer long. This is a positive and tangible way to learn about a “seed to fork” connection to food for young ones.
“Cultivate Your Neighbourhood” will also offer a harvest lunch to students once they return to school in the fall, which will be made from some of the garden produce that they have planted.
A series of Summer Garden Events are currently being planned across the city, and chances are there will be one in a neighbourhood near you. If you, or someone you know would like to help volunteer or get gardening in your own community garden, visit FoodShedProject.ca (www.foodshedproject.ca).
Another initiative under the Choose to Boost your Veggies & Fruit theme is The Good Food Box MARCHÉ de la boîte bonne bouffe.
For several years, the Sudbury & District Good Food Box program has made it possible for residents of Sudbury and the surrounding communities to purchase fresh produce at wholesale prices.
This summer, the Sudbury & District Good Food Box Program will be applying its model for affordable fresh produce to a traveling pop-up market. The Good Food Box MARCHÉ de la boîte bonne bouffe will make short, regular stops in select residential neighbourhoods that are underserved by grocery stores.
As with the existing Good Food Box program, the market will operate on a not-for-profit basis, with bulk purchasing discounts getting passed on to market patrons. The market will have the added advantage of being more frequent than the monthly Good Food Box program, and people will be able to choose the items they buy.
Ultimately, the goal is to encourage local families to make healthy food choices by making it easier for them to access a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The Good Food Box MARCHÉ de la boîte bonne bouffe is working with the Best Start Hubs and the Sudbury & District Health Unit to identify market locations where children and families often gather and where grocery store access is limited.
Copper Cliff and Minnow Lake have been proposed as pilot neighbourhoods, though specific locations are yet to be determined. Since the market will be not-for-profit, promotional efforts as well as market set-up and take-down duties will require the assistance of volunteers.
Anyone interested in getting involved should contact the Good Food Box Program Coordinator at 705-671-1941 ext. 258.
Leigh Anne Cecchetto is the Coordinator of the Cultivate Your Neighbourhood Project and a dedicated member of Sudbury’s Foodshed Project & Community Garden Network. Victoria Armit is the co-ordinator for the Sudbury & District Good Food Box Program.