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Clubhouse Farm Background
The Clubhouse Farm is our outdoor classroom, providing fresh food and outdoor education for children in daycare, preschool, and elementary school. We first opened our program in 2012 after noticing that children are not getting enough time outside and becoming increasingly separated from the processes of nature that impact human health and well-being. Since then, we’ve had thousands of children visit, started partnerships with like-minded organizations, and produce food for sale in our community.
The Farm is designed with multiple use spaces in mind. Outdoor Classroom spaces include: The Little Pear Preschool Garden, The Compost Classroom, The Chicken Classroom, The Forest Classroom, The Pollinator Classroom, The Art Room, The Outdoor Kitchen, The Circle Garden, and more. This year, we’re working on two new classroom spaces: The Honeybee Classroom, and The Food Forest Classroom.
Creating a diverse food-productive space that acts as habitat for birds and beneficial insects, while being used Monday to Friday as a place where children can learn about food and nature will have massive beneficial impact for generations. 216 food-bearing trees and shrubs will be planted with conscious design and maintained by our Clubhouse Farmers. Produce will feed our 600 Clubhouse kids, and extra can be sold to neighbors and to our Clubhouse Families. Educators can book the Food Forest Classroom for lessons that meet the BC elementary school curriculum, and this learning space will be supplemented by digital lesson plans and weather-proof sign boards.
Why a Food Forest Classroom?
1. producing healthy local food for the community
2. reducing our ecological impact
3. connecting children to where food comes from in an environment scientifically proven to improve their health and well-being, while fueling their cognitive development.
According to the Central Okanagan Food Policy Council, 51% of farmland in Kelowna is not actively used for farming. The skills of farming are being drastically lost in our community as our children become separated further and further from the land that supports us. Did you know 14% of people, disproportionately children, in the Okanagan are food insecure? One in five children in B.C. are growing up in poverty. We work with six elementary schools in the Kelowna area and see too many children come to school hungry. (In part why we started serving nutritious meals and snacks Monday to Friday from our licenced kitchen, but that’s a story for another time).
StatsCan found that 7 out of 10 children aged 4 to 8 have less than the recommended five servings of vegetables and fruit a day. But we know from both peer-reviewed study and experience that children who have a part in growing their own food are five times more likely to eat vegetables.
We know from surveys across Canada that today, our children get too much screentime, sit for too long in their day, and that adults have to work and are often too tired to cook healthy meals or get outside with their kids by the time they get home. These conditions will not be easily changed. As educators, what we CAN change is how we set up our classrooms and spend time with our children during the day. We have twenty years’ of research from around the world showing that the optimum platform for child development and education includes the outdoors, access to healthy foods, and the conditions to be physically active throughout the day. Our goal is to set up a functional Food Forest classroom that meets the needs of the child while meeting the requirements of the provincial curriculum. We need a little help from the community to do just that.
Children will always need a good education and places to safely play outside, and families will always need good food. Our communities are becoming more aware of environmental problems including the growing need for local food production that does not strain our natural environment. We have no shortage of future plans including a community compost program, and growing our reoccurring primary school visit program from two days a week to five days a week. The Clubhouse Farm is becoming an increasingly active place!