Little Green Thumbs and Spuds in the Tub get children excited about growing food

·2 min read
Charlotte Flores (right) with her co-worker Michelle Landry. Flores says the goal of Agriculture in the Classroom is to teach young people where and how food is produced.  (Submitted by Charlotte Flores - image credit)
Charlotte Flores (right) with her co-worker Michelle Landry. Flores says the goal of Agriculture in the Classroom is to teach young people where and how food is produced. (Submitted by Charlotte Flores - image credit)

The Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick wants to bring the farm into the classroom for students around the province so children can learn more about where their food comes from and how to grow it themselves.

They've just launched a new website to help with that goal. Agriculture in the Classroom New Brunswick is part of a national platform where teachers can access curriculum about agriculture for all grade levels.

"This website is to be a hub for teachers to access resources — both our programs … and over 100 activities that teachers can download," said Charlotte Flores, manager of the program.

Submitted by Charlotte Flores
Submitted by Charlotte Flores

Flores, speaking to Shift, said the platform also allows teachers to access curriculum from nine other provincial partners.

"It's the diversity of the whole country at your fingertips, as well as really local and specialized programs to us right here at home," said Flores.

The platform also pairs up teachers with local farmers for farm tours and classroom sessions.

Flores said Agriculture in the Classroom New Brunswick has a small list of farmers involved so far, but she thinks that will change.

"We have several meetings over the next couple of months with different producers, so I think we'll be expanding that list greatly in the future," she said.

The website has programs such as Little Green Thumbs, which allows teachers to grow gardens in their classroom and Spuds in the Tub, which gets students involved in growing potatoes.

Submitted by Charlotte Flores
Submitted by Charlotte Flores

The goal is to teach young people where and how food is produced and hopefully spark their interest in being a part of the agriculture industry in the future.

"We know our population is going to increase over the next 30 years, and we really need young people to be engaged in agriculture so that Canada can be a leader in food production in the world, and I really think New Brunswick is a great place to start," Flores said.

Agriculture in the Classroom Canada has also developed the website ThinkAG, which is designed to support students who may want a career in agriculture.

Students can take a quiz on the website to find out which areas in the industry may interest them and find universities that offer programs necessary for careers in the desired field.

Maggie MacPherson/CBC
Maggie MacPherson/CBC

Agriculture in the Classroom New Brunswick launched in 2017, she said, when it received $60,000 from the New Brunswick Food and Beverage Strategy and another $19,900 from the Growing Forward 2 program, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

But development of the website came to a halt during COVID-19.

Since January, the team has worked quickly to bring the website to life, said Flores.

She said the program has so far received $136,000 through the Canadian Agriculture Partnership, a $3-billion investment over five years by the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries.