SOUTH WEST NOVA SCOTIA - Last year regional co-ordinator Evelyn Hurlbert delivered boxes for the Nourish Your Roots program to one school in the region. This year she’s delivered to seven.
The hearty boxes of fresh vegetables are fuelling school fundraisers to help develop healthy breakfast, lunch and snack programs.
Created and facilitated by Nourish Nova Scotia, the farm-to-school initiative Nourish Your Roots helps students raise funds by selling boxes of fresh produce from local farms to their family and the community.
Each Nourish Your Roots box contains an assortment of eight to 10 fresh Nova Scotian grown items, including a variety of root vegetables and sometimes fruit and/or herbs. Box contents vary across the province and by year, depending on who the school's farm partners are. The produce is also packed with recipes.
Hurlbert, who operates Riverview Produce Farms, says she enjoys participating.
“The reason I like it is because the money goes to the children,” she says.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s around here, so you’re helping them and it’s helping me too.”
This year she co-ordinated with seven schools – Hillcrest Academy, Plymouth, Maple Ridge, Wedgeport, Forest Ridge, Carleton and Clark's Harbour.
The farmers are paid a total of $18 for all the produce in each box. Each box focuses on root vegetables – hence the name Nourish your Roots. Hurlbert supplied some produce for the boxes, as well as Wallace Bros. and Woods Berries.
Across the province 123 schools and child care centres are receiving produce this fall.
Lori Munro-Sigfridso, Active Healthy Living consultant for the Tri-Country Regional Centre for Education, says 12 schools in the region are involved in Nourish your Roots this year.
“This is such an exciting initiative,” she says. “All funds raised are to be used to support healthy food initiatives at schools.”
The total number of boxes sold as of late October was 1,108. Each box contains between 23 to 24 lbs of fresh produce equalling between 25,484 and 26,592 lbs of fresh produce going back into the community to promote healthy eating and support local food procurement.
“So far, Plymouth is the highest selling school to date with 208 boxes,” said Sigfridson at the time this story was written.
“Boxes sell for $30 of which schools keep $9 so in Plymouth’s case the school raised $1,872 with this fundraiser.”
After the farmers are paid $18 for the produce in their boxes, the other $3 dollars are directed back to Nourish Your Roots to offset the costs of the program.
In the past, the funds raised have been used to support healthy breakfast, lunch and snack programs as well as cooking clubs that promote food literacy.
“It is really great to see a fundraiser that is synergistic with TCRCE’s Health Promoting Schools approach to creating and supporting healthy learning and working environments for students and staff,” Sigfridson said. “This fundraiser takes a whole school/whole child approach whereby the wellness of the whole school community is considered and healthy eating/living behaviours are modelled for our students.”
More about Nourish Your Roots
To learn more about the Nourish Your Roots program, visit this link.
Nourish Your Roots co-ordinator Carline Whitby says wherever possible they seek local producers to supply produce.
If you know of farmers who might be interested in being part of the program, they can sign up on the webpage.
She added growers need to be able to supply a considerable amount of produce in a relatively short period of time, so the model does not work for every farmer.