Important Things You’ll Learn in “From Seed to Table: Adventures in Eco-Farming”

From Seed to Table: Adventures in Eco-Farming provides high school students with the opportunity to learn about food production and eco-farming through hands-on adventures at our school garden. Students will plant, nurture, and harvest greens, root vegetables, and more, learning first-hand about the business of running a farm, the value of sustainability, and the joy of preparing and consuming food that they have grown. In the morning, students will work together, developing their collaborative skills to complete projects at the garden. In the afternoon, they will build and foster friendships with their peers while enjoying fun activities at our waterfront.

David Sobel quote: “if we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it.”

Regenerative Farming Techniques

This course is designed to connect youth to regenerative food systems through hands-on, experiential practice using regenerative farming techniques, such as composting, increasing crop diversity, and organic annual cropping. Learning about regenerative farming is not only important for those interested in a career in agriculture. It’s imperative for all students to gain an understanding of important topics in the world today, such as sustainability, food systems, food security and insecurity, and more. This program offers hands-on experiences that introduce regenerative farming practices alongside small business operation and management techniques.

One of the ways students will gain first-hand experience is by creating natural compost and using organic matter to produce a garden that thrives. They will also learn about the benefits of crop diversification by helping create a garden that incorporates different plant species to achieve stable organic matter in the soil. What better way to learn about regenerative farming techniques than to implement real-life applications in lessons so students can experience the knowledge they’re taking in?

It wouldn’t be “From Seed to Table” if students didn’t have the opportunity to prepare the produce they harvested. After nurturing a garden that thrives on our campus acreage, students will learn how to prepare meals with the food grown and understand the processes involved with turning green waste back into nutrients for the soil. This closed-loop system will inspire students to learn about where their food comes from, and be active participants in a healthy, regenerative food system, both in the course and beyond.

Three students and a teacher lean over a raised garden bed to collect tomatoes.

The History of Food Systems

Students will gain an understanding of the history of food systems through the exploration of early Indigenous agricultural techniques and continued Indigenous cultural and spiritual connection to the land. Lakefield College School acknowledges that we are located on the Treaty 20 Michi Saagiig territory and in the traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig and Chippewa Nations, collectively known as the Williams Treaties First Nations, which include: Curve Lake, Hiawatha, Alderville, Scugog Island, Rama, Beausoleil, and Georgina Island First Nations.

Lakefield College School respectfully acknowledges that the Williams Treaties First Nations are the stewards and caretakers of these lands and waters in perpetuity and that they continue to maintain this responsibility to ensure their health and integrity for generations to come.

Students will learn about the history of our land, local food systems, and the stages of the agricultural revolution to learn about intensive farming practices and the regenerative way forward. This knowledge can be applied to local food systems around the world; once students grasp the importance of situating the broader food system within local cultural practices, traditions, and histories, they can be a more informed consumer and citizen.

By studying the different stages of food systems, being immersed in experiential learning on the half-acre school vegetable garden, and drawing on the experience of local experts, students will become knowledgeable about the connection between the environment, people, and profit as it relates to food. They will have an opportunity to identify gaps and design interventions in their community food system, whether it be a venture plan, advocacy plan to address societal issues, or education plan to influence human behaviours.

A female student assesses a vine and a male student holds weeds he just pulled from the garden

Environmental Sustainability

Focused on sustainable practices, this course encourages stewardship of the land and practical responsibility. Students quickly see the impact of their daily involvement on the farming project and will learn seven-generation responsibility in terms of environmental issues.

Students will learn to work together, whether at the garden, through planning, building projects, collaborative planting and harvesting, or in their afternoon activity sessions, such as team sailing and paddling. Students will alternate between roles (leadership, facilitator, recorder) on projects to gain the perspective needed to see a project from its full scope.

In the words of David Sobel (environmental educator and academic, responsible for developing the philosophy of place-based education), “If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it.” 

From Seed to Table” is an authentic learning adventure that combines community, connection, and environmental stewardship with a cutting edge curriculum to provide students with a transformative outdoor learning experience.