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Learn how Norwell DSS LEAF program has adapted to a remote setting

January 18, 2021

PALMERSTON, Ontario – Students in the LEAF program at Norwell District Secondary School have had to shift to a virtual setting this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Started in 2018, the LEAF (Local Environmental Agriculture & Food) program is geared toward students interested in gaining experience growing food in the garden and greenhouse, cooking with local food, and making the connection between farms and food to the environment. Typically, this program is done in a very hands-on setting with students visiting local farms, meeting farmers and learning about different careers in agriculture.

This year, the LEAF program has had to change many aspects of daily learning as many elements of the program cannot be done virtually, like visiting farms or working together in the school kitchen and greenhouse. However, through technology, students have been able to connect with community farmers in a virtual setting.

Using online tools like Google Meet, students in the program have been able to speak with approximately 15 farmers this year, and despite connecting virtually, students have said these experiences were positive and informative.

For students, the connection – even virtually – to experts in the agriculture industry makes the learning experience real and meaningful.

According to LEAF program educator, Paul Frayne, “There is no substitute for the real thing. I would say on this front that my students have shown great resilience, displayed a positive attitude, and have worked hard [this year]. They know they are missing out on some fun hands-on learning in the true program but they are making the most of this situation and moving forward. Their positivity has made this program a success even with the many limitations.”

Frayne continued to explain that the agriculture and food industry has done a great job creating educational learning materials for students who have moved to a virtual setting, including Farm Food Care virtual farm tours and the Journey 2050 sustainable farming simulation games that students can access.

Students look forward to being able to continue with the hands-on learning portion of this program someday, but in the meantime are appreciative of all the virtual opportunities they have received.

For more information about the LEAF program, visit the Norwell District SS website.


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