Sprouting Chefs a registered charity based in Burnaby, B.C., knows the importance of community gardens and connection with food. The organization, led by Barb Koyanagi McMahon, integrates with the BC curriculum to connect the lessons learned in the classroom to learning found in the garden and kitchen including mental wellness activities and discussions.
"I was inspired by the way students were able to learn at the Edible Schoolyard in Berkley where each day, classes were able to learn their regular curriculum in either a garden or kitchen setting. Real life applications of math, science, social studies and language can all be incorporated in ways students really understand when they are in the garden or kitchen. Creating an outdoor labyrinth space has also been a key factor in the program at Forest Grove. The labyrinth has been a mindfulness tool to learn about the various Virtues including Patience, Trust, Peace, Forgiveness, Love, and Gratitude. Thus making our program uniquely holistic from seed to heart to soil and back again."
"The garden spaces at each school we've been in have been quiet places for reflection, a place to become at peace, learn about the health and healing benefits of plants, and offer a wide range of exploration for all learners."
"What I am most proud of when it comes to our program at Forest Grove in particular, is that we have evolved into being able to provide 2 school wide community lunches per year. These lunches have been a collaborative effort with the students in the cooking classes making the meals as well as a team of students setting up, preparing and serving the meals together. Our community lunches featured in the video, have been a way for our students to really shine as they demonstrate not only their cooking skills but their leadership, teamwork, responsibility and service to their community. Meals made have featured a huge variety of crops from the garden as well."
With the school closures in March, garden plots at Forest Grove Elementary and Edmond’s Community School were initially left scarce, until Barb and Sprouting Chefs mobilized a team of volunteers to transition the gardens from a important place of learning, to land that also provides food for those in need. Since April, the gardens at both schools have provided fresh vegetables such radishes, kale, Asian greens and spinach as well as a place for the local community to gather (at a safe distance) and contribute during this uncertain time.
Unfortunately, Sprouting Chefs now needs the support of our community. With no after-school cooking classes or camps, and limited grants to bring in revenue, funds are nearing zero. To support our in class Seed to Table Program in schools with no fee, garden maintenance and the facilitation of the program at schools in Burnaby and surrounding area for the year, we have set-up a Go Fund Me page, hoping to raise $35,000.