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COLUMN: French schools, communities to focus on all things ‘local’

Fresh fruits and vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables

The timing couldn’t be better for the Acadian and French communities of P.E.I. to be emphasizing joint school-community projects.

The union of school and community efforts has always characterized and set the Acadians apart, but what was for a long time a cultural trend is now becoming policy.

The newest Global Development Plan which provides a strategic vision for about 20 Francophone organizations across the Island, including the Commission scolaire de langue française, is based on the concept of holistic, intertwined school-community projects, planning and programs. Of particular interest, is the French and Acadian Developers Network’s first school-community pilot project, the jardins scolaires-communautaires (School-Community Gardens) that will be established at each of the six French schools. Not only does this focus on fusing school and local community initiatives respond to the needs and desires of the six Acadian regions of P.E.I., but it also comes about at the right time amidst other social advancements provincially and nationally.

About two weeks ago the P.E.I. government released information about the $100,000 Food Security and Food Education Program, which will provide fresh, local food to three Island English schools. This program is in line with Prime Minister Trudeau’s letter to Minister Lawrence MacAulay of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada which underscores the priority of developing “a food policy that promotes healthy living and safe food, produced by Canadian ranchers and farmers, on the tables of families across the country.” The school-community gardens, or sco-co gardens, for short, likewise aim to band students and community members together in an effort to promote and strengthen our local food, foraging and medicinal plant production.  

Ironically, or perhaps unsurprisingly, Trump recently condemned the Canadian dairy industry for forcing U.S. famers out of business, because our dairy farmers have lowered their prices of certain products in response to an evolving domestic market, in other words: they want to sell more locally.

The trend in Canada, therefore, appears to be one of putting the nutrition and dollars back in the hands of Canadians. In the same vein, the P.E.I. Francophone sco-co gardens will empower students and locals with respect to entrepreneurship, environmental and horticultural awareness, health and wellness, self-sustaining, economic security and more outdoor, social activity thanks to an active learning approach. The project has received $150,000 in funding in the form of a Canada 150 grant for its first year.

So, to Trump, with regards to his recent melodramatic mud slinging at Canada’s dairy industry, all I have to say is, “don’t have a cow, man!”

 

Natalie Pendergast, Ph.D., of Oyster Bed Bridge, works as a communications manager in Prince Edward Island. She shares her unique perspective as an anglophone working in the francophone community with Journal Pioneer readers, and reflects on current affairs pertaining to la francophonie in her bi-weekly column.

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