Students harvest the benefits of program

Farm Bag program enables schools to sell 20 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables as a monthly subscription

Grade 3 students Kehler Smith (left) and Connor Stephens of Uplands Elementary School hold up the farm bag along with Becky Aubie and school principal Susan Johnston.

Grade 3 students Kehler Smith (left) and Connor Stephens of Uplands Elementary School hold up the farm bag along with Becky Aubie and school principal Susan Johnston.

Uplands Elementary is hoping the community gets behind an initiative that helps raise funds for the school and for local food growers.

The Farm Bag program enables the school to sell 20 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables as a monthly subscription. Uplands is one of four schools in the program, along with Columbia Elementary, Kaleden and McNicoll Park Middle School.

“It works with support from the community, parents of the school, local farmers and educates the students on the importance of eating healthy which is one of the objectives of our school,” said Uplands Elementary principal Susan Johnston.

The initiative is based on improving options for healthy food choices and is a collaboration between two South Okanagan businesses, LocalMotive and Little Green Book. It supports local food growers with fair wages, while making fresh produce affordable and available in the form of bags of fresh fruit and vegetables to each subscriber. The food is delivered monthly to the schools.

“The fundraising program was built to answer several needs simultaneously: getting healthy, fresh food to families; giving non-profit groups high return opportunities for raising funds; and supporting local agriculture,” said Farm Bag co-ordinator Jennifer Vincent. “We’re really excited to have settled on this model because it feels like win-win-win. One of the great things about the Farm Bag program is that it provides a commodity we all need — food. And good, local, fresh food. Who can say no that?”

Vincent added that it costs no more than the supermarket, is fresher, is high-quality and supports the local community. Uplands Parent Advisory Council will receive 20 per cent of every sale of the bags of produce that cost $25.

Barb Sheppard, one of the Uplands Farm Bag fundraising co-ordinators, said they already have over 150 people signed up for the first delivery on Nov. 10. Sheppard said people can also buy an extra bag if they would like that can be donated to families in need within the community. The money that is fundraised for the school will be put into a green project.

“So $5 of each bag will go back to the school. Examples of green projects the school has done before include playground equipment and educating the students on agriculture. Possible future green projects could be things like expanding our recycling program, or creating a garden for the kids to learn more about farming,” said Sheppard. “The timing is really great for this program because the farmers’ market is closing down for the season and this gives families a way to still purchase produce from local farmers.”

Each month, on a set date, the community can come to Uplands Elementary to collect their pre-ordered produce. Inside each package is a collection of seasonal items ranging between six to eight different types of goods in each order as well as an information newsletter with recipes and tips emailed to the buyer.

For more information visit farmbag.littlegreenbook.ca and click on the Buy a Farm Bag tab and choose a school. Those without internet access can sign up and pay at the school.