Delta school district launching farming program

The Delta school district is launching a farming program this September.

Open to any student in grades 10 to 12, the Farm Roots Mini School will not be a fee-paying academy but a regular course elective that will have 30 students attend the former Boundary Beach school site twice a week. They’ll learn everything from soil and seed science to growing to marketing agricultural products.

The students will grow a few crops at an eight-acre plot at the site. Graham Harkley, who will be the lead instructor, said the students will play a role in determining what will be grown. “My vision is to see all sorts of different things they grow. I was visiting an ag farm during the Christmas break out in Abbotsford and they have 25 different varieties of plants. For example, they have eight different types of kale,” he said. “So one of the things we’re going to do is some soil tests to see what kind of soil is here and figure out what is going to grow.

“We know the climate we have but a lot of it is going to be experimentation. We will have such great support from the farming community here but it will also be partly what’s driven by the kids. One group, for example, is really interested in cut flowers and there’s a huge market for cut flowers.”

Classes will also tackle the issue of food security.

The district says the school is the result of a demand in the community for cross-curricular learning that takes kids out of the classroom and connects them to the land, providing hands-on, real-life opportunities.

Harkley said the program is a great opportunity to teach young people about farming, but also provides students with unique skills applicable to varied and burgeoning career paths.

Grace Harkley, a Grade 10 student at Delta Secondary, has already registered, saying she has always loved gardening and looks forward to the school’s hands-on learning approach.

District principal Brooke Moore said they’re hoping to eventually expand the program to 60 students with two separate classes of 30 attending the minifarm every other day. The school will certainly have plenty of nearby expertise to draw upon as

it is in partnership with local farmers and farming industry members, including Emma Lea Farms, the Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust, Westcoast Seeds and Coun. Ian Paton, a local farmer and auctioneer.

The district is also finalizing a memorandum of understanding with Kwantlen Polytechnic University that will enable students in the program to use what they’ve learned toward credits in the university’s science and horticulture programs.

– See more at: Delta Optimist