In 2016, Open Roads Public School in Dryden was awarded a grant through Farm to Cafeteria Canada to deliver a 3-year salad bar program to their students. This program requires that all students in the school have access to the salad bar service once a week for 20 weeks out of the school year, and that they be given the opportunity to choose from a variety fresh fruits and vegetables. A mandate of the program is also to source locally produced goods when available.
This is where Cloverbelt comes in! We’ve been working closely with the school to help them source local produce as it’s available from our farmers. The tricky part about determining how to supply fresh local produce to a program like this, is that a lot of the veggies in this area are in season later into the summer while the students are out of school. Luckily, CLFC came up with a solution!
Del Schmucker, Wickens Lake Sunshine In late 2016, CLFC’s Ag. Coordinator assisted Del Schmucker of Wickens Lake Sunshine in applying for and receiving a grant through the Greenbelt Fund. Del has a hydroponics greenhouse (growing plants in water instead of dirt) in Dryden and produces different varieties of lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. This grant allowed Del to fund an incredible project to increase his production by doubling the current size of his greenhouse and to install a wood boiler system to heat the greenhouse during the colder spring and fall months. A clear marker of success of the project was that Del had lettuce ready as early as mid-April this year which is at least 4-6 weeks earlier than normal! Thanks to this increased production and extended growing season, Del can provide the students with fresh veggies over the course of the school year. Students were also recently able to visit Del’s greenhouse to learn about hydroponics and even help harvest their own lettuce for the next day’s salad bar! So far, the students have been LOVING the program! It’s been a chance to try new things and support a variety of local producers. Students have already enjoyed carrots from Belluz Farms in Thunder Bay, lettuce and cherry tomatoes from Wickens Lake Sunshine, and fresh asparagus from Wall’s Pork Shop in Oxdrift. We heard the students couldn’t get enough of the asparagus and even have new favourites like radishes! This successful program is just another example of how CLFC and our producers are working with institutions and organizations to help get local food into the community. Do you have a similar story to share or want to know more about how you can get involved in local food initiatives? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.