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Barrowtown Elementary School in Abbotsford home to unique agriculture program

Farm program is the only one in Abbotsford, could expand to other schools in the district

Barrowtown Elementary School has incorporated agriculture as part of the learning experience.

An extensive farming program with a greenhouse, chicken coop, rabbits, garden and an orchard has flourished.

The greenhouse was the original structure brought to the school a few years ago, but it was not used regularly. After the catastrophic floods in Abbotsford in 2021 it got the staff, parents and parent advisory council (PAC) re-thinking about how to use the land. The agriculture program was reinvigorated and is thriving.

“The goal for the kids is to get their hands dirty, get outside and have that hands-on experience,” PAC president Rachel Slomp said. “Farming is important, farmers are valuable and land is valuable.”

Barrowtown got connected to farm schools in Alberta and Ontario to outline the program. The school started out with a chicken coop and the kindergarten students hatched eggs. From there, it grew quickly and now involves kindergarten to Grade 5 students.

Barrowtown only has 48 students enrolled, so they have the ability to involve everyone in the upkeep of the farm. Slomp hopes the appeal of such a unique program interests new students to come to Barrowtown.

The children who come from farming families, along with the Grade 4 and 5 students, have taken on a leadership role. Whether it is collecting eggs, replacing feed or checking on the well-being of the animals, the students take the role seriously.

As a result of the program Barrowtown has been able to sell their eggs, pumpkins, beets, lettuce, flowers and other produce back to the community for money to help keep the program going. They have also received support in the form of grants.

The school recognizes that food sustainability is an on-going worry in the Fraser Valley, especially after the floods. They hope to instill a passion for agriculture amongst the students that can one day result in careers.

The Abbotsford School District has enjoyed seeing the program’s success and is looking into potentially expanding it to middle school. Barrowtown will present their agriculture program at the school board meeting on May 14.

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About the Author: Ryleigh Mulvihill

I have been a multimedia journalist with The Abbotsford News since February of 2024.
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