A winning recipe for farms and schools
Nourish Nova Scotia works with farmers like Tusket’s Riverview Produce Farms to put food in local schools
As the latest executive director of the non-profit organization Nourish Nova Scotia, one of the programs Lisa Roberts is most excited about this fall is Nourish Your Roots. A popular farm-to-school food box fundraiser that has existed for more than six years, Nourish Your Roots helps to generate money to bolster local schools' food programs such as breakfast or vegetable gardens while also supporting local farmers. “Ninety-two schools, including some non-profit private schools and nonprofit childcare centres, have signed up to participate,” says Roberts, noting Yarmouth Elementary and Shelburne's Hillcrest Academy are among the participating schools. “It's a fundraising program that we offer to them and then we facilitate it.” As part of the program, boxes of fresh vegetables and fruit from such local producers as Yarmouth County's Riverview Produce Farms are sold to the greater community. “We developed this program in consultation with farmers, and I think it's very important,” notes Roberts, who joined the team at Nourish Nova Scotia following a five-year stint in provincial politics as MLA for Halifax Needham. “Part of the program, and Nourish in general, is really trying to be a good partner in the food systems conversation in Nova Scotia,” continues Roberts. “We want to ensure that we have farmers that are able to contribute to our longterm food security in Nova Scotia and connecting schools with farms in these programs is one of the ways that we have tried to do that.” While the farmers are paid fairly, customers also get to enjoy locally grown produce while school programs get the support they need to continue providing healthy food options for students. “It's a way for schools to do fundraising that connects students and families with farmers and fresh produce that can be turned into meals and so it's sort of a win-win-win,” says Roberts. “(We) have been working with a number of different farmers and developed lots of recipes that use the kind of root vegetables that come in the box and we are super grateful for everybody who supports it.” Those who do support Nourish Your Roots by purchasing a box is making an investment in the health and well-being of local farmers like Riverview Produce Farms as well as the schools themselves. In fact, if schools have signed up to get involved by October, Roberts says they will have the opportunity to sell the boxes directly through their schools to local communities and parents. “Also, we kept the online store option, which we had developed during COVID when there wasn't kind of school-based fundraising happening,” adds Roberts. “So people can go to (our) online store and choose to buy a box of produce.” Each Nourish Your Roots box contains a variety of up to 10 types of vegetables, fruit or herbs. As well, the 20 to 25 pound box includes recipes and tips for preparing healthy meals. “Ten dollars per box goes to a school that is participating,” notes Roberts. “From a drop down menu, people can choose the school that they want to benefit from their purchase or they can choose no preference — in which case we'll work with our education partners to allocate those dollars to where they deem them the most needed.” For more information on Nourish Your Roots, visit: www.nourishns.ca.