Torry Simpson: Okay, so my name is Torry Simpson, I work on the Growing up Organic project here in Ottawa. It’s a project of Canadian Organic Growers which is a national charity, we have local charities throughout all of Canada. Growing up Organic project is specifically targeted to youth, trying to increase their access and awareness to local organic foods, so we’ve done that by building school yard vegetable gardens in 22 schools in Ottawa and hosting a number of farm field trips, hosting farmers in classes as well
David Drouin: Torry has been coming to our school to help with some planting boxes that we built outside, harvesting and generally just teaching the students about, you know ‘from the ground to our table.’
Torry Simpson: So we start out usually in the season doing a brief introduction to organic gardening, how to garden and planning their garden accordingly. Followed by some seed saving, coming outside and doing a soil discovery workshop, so digging in the gardens, getting their hands dirty, and today we hosted a farmer named Rob Wallbridge from Songberry Organic Farm.
Several voices speaking in classroom
Grade 7 student speaking: I learned a lot about organic food, basically how it’s grown. What things are used to make sure these things are organic like the water, the pest control.
Student speaking: How it’s grown and produced and sold. It’s like the cycle of organic food.
Teacher: I think they’re a lot more knowledgeable about the food process and the appreciation of how much work, how much water, how much care, how much of the environment goes into producing each leaf of lettuce, each thing that they’re consuming and putting into their bodies.
Torry: So it’s creating a healthy environment for our community because we are supporting local farmers and we want to make sure we’re supporting something that’s sustainable.
Grade 5 Student: It’s pretty neat because I actually have never actually been in a greenhouse and not as many like animal farms, they don’t have those.
Student: I learned about growing vegetables and I’ve learned about how you treat animals.
Student: Usually I thought chickens would like, come up to you and bite you but when we went in actually inside to get eggs they didn’t really bother us at all.
Tim Aubin: You’re trying to give them a broader picture from, you don’t just rush to the shop to buy something, there is an alternative and you’re trying to educate them that everything here is valuable.
Student: I’ve never been experienced as a farmer but I can tell it’s probably a hard job, you have a whole farm to take care of. Everything has to be done at one point in time.
Students saving seeds
Tim Aubin: Children haven’t had the chance to be on a farm before, and the public needs to be aware of exactly what we’re doing and how we’re doing it so they can make an informed choice of the food that they actually eat.
Torry: It’s not just about the information that they’re learning per se it’s more the experience of getting to meet a farmer, making that physical connection with the land. They got an opportunity to get their hands dirty and get a little bit more excited about food and I find that really opens their mind to try new things at home and getting excited about eating healthy foods, hopefully.