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Northern Alberta resident wants a greenhouse for every school

Northern Alberta resident says he would like to see greenhouses in Lakeland region schools to teach students the principles of gardening, producing food and Canadian agriculture. 
Banff Greenhouse
File photo.

BONNYVILLE – “When school children say we don’t need farmers because they get their food from a grocery store – that's bad,” said Fort Kent resident Benard Chartrand. 

On Sept. 20, Chartrand presented an idea to the Board of Trustees at Lakeland Catholic School Division (LCSD) that he hopes they will embrace and take action on – a greenhouse for every school. 

Seated before trustees, the long-time farmer and self-described political mechanic shared that there is a growing disconnect between the youth of today and where their food comes from. 

Chartrand said he would like to see school divisions in the Lakeland region provide each school with their own greenhouse to teach students the principles of gardening, producing food and Canadian agriculture. 

Youth are not being taught traditional knowledge of sustainable food production, which is a growing concern for the life-long farmer when it comes to the future of food security. 

“Some kids go to school with an empty stomach. That's like not putting gas in your car – you don't go very far,” Chartrand said. “My food bank is in my garden.” 

He believes if schools had greenhouses and could grow their own organic food it would increase education of proper nutrition and reduce child hunger. 

Chartrand said he has brought the concept to current and past area MLAs and principals who are in favour of the idea but require someone to take action for it to become a reality.  

“Maybe I'll never see it, but it'll happen sooner or later,” he told Lakeland Catholic trustees. “Land is like a bank, if you take everything from the bank then what you wind up getting is nothing.” 

Chartrand also had one more ask for trustees - he would like to see the school division build on the Government of Alberta’s Grade 1 seedling program. The 60-year program has provided Grade 1 students in Alberta with a tree seedling during Alberta Forest Week and Arbor Day celebrations each May. 

He would like to see the school division provide one windbreak tree sapling and one fruit tree sapling to students to plant each year to help improve the environment. 

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