Urban Ag High Program Could Be Coming to Edmonton Schools

Urban Ag High was featured in the December 18, 2013 Metro News thanks to Ryan Tumilty, Senior Reporter. Check out the following story:

Edmonton high school students could be getting green thumbs with their degrees with a new program looking to build a network of urban agriculture in local schools.

The Edmonton Community Foundation unveiled a list of grants this week, including $15,500 to Sustainable Food Edmonton to create an Urban Ag High program.

Dustin Bajer, a teacher at Jasper Place High School who will head up the program, said there are 15 or 20 small-scale agriculture programs in local high schools and he wants to bring that work together.

“The plan is to knit that network together, so that more programs are successful rather than not,” he said.

Jasper Place has a green house and garden and several other urban agriculture programs. Students from the school recently used herbs and other ingredients they had grown at the school to take both first and second place in the city’s non-alcoholic winter drink competition.

Bajer said it's not about trying to transplant the Jasper Place program to every school however.

“What works here isn't necessarily is going to work across the street or on the other side of the city,” he said.

He said the idea is to work towards something that could become part of the curriculum - or could just be an after-school program - depending on what schools are comfortable with.

“Rather than coming up with a formula or a recipe, the plan here is to really try and foster and create a community of practice,” he said.

Areni Kelleppan, the executive director of Sustainable Food Edmonton, said they want to create a toolkit that any school could use if they wanted.

“It would give the resources and capacity for administrators and teachers to carry out programs.”

The community foundation gave out a total of $403,000 in grants in the most recent round of awards, as part of over $1 million handed out this year.