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Fall festival at school promotes local farmers

Healthy lifestyles on the agenda at Happy Valley elementary
Ten-year-old Jenna Lehman of Langford stretches out for a bean bag in a bouncy maze at last year’s spring fair at Happy Valley elementary. Tomorrow’s fundraiser focus on the harvest.

One West Shore Parent Advisory Council has decided to forego chocolate bar sales this September, instead opting for something that gets the entire family involved in a different way.

Happy Valley elementary invites the public to join them tomorrow (Sept. 29) for their Community Harvest Festival and Farmers Market.

“We’ve tried to really change our focus,” said PAC president Tarra Rosenke. This means getting away from sending children home with items to sell such as candy. “As a parent, I didn’t like doing that.”

Thursday’s event will not only raise funds for the school, it will support others in the community while teaching children where their food comes from. From 4 to 7 p.m. a market will be set up outside, featuring local farmers, businesses and other vendors supporting the school. Students will also be selling homemade pie for $1 a slice.

“The whole school is doing a pie-baking contest,” Rosenke said, adding it will be based on appearance so the pies won’t be harmed before going to market. It’s also a little easier on the judge’s waistline she joked.

From 5:30 to 6 p.m., parents will be able to take a break from shopping to meet with teachers in the school before the big showdown. At 6:00 teachers and students will square off in the ultimate fall fair test. “We have our Grade 5s competing against our teachers in a pie-eating contest,” Rosenke said. “We are really, really excited.”

Pie isn’t the only item on the menu. The PAC will also be selling freshly roasted ears of corn from Silver Rill Corn and hot apple cider. Noticeably absent from the menu is junk food – no pop or chips will be sold at this event. Even the prizes are such items as gourds and mini pumpkins instead of plastic tokens.

There will also be games for the kids to keep all members of the family entertained. “Nothing but the best for our kids,” Rosenke said. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s just promoting family togetherness.”

But the event isn’t just about bringing the community together, as part of the focus will be on celebrating the school’s new garden. With part of the proceeds from the festival going toward growing the garden, more classes will be able to get involved with the project, which is quickly proving to be a hit with students and their families.

“They’re all trying new things,” Rosenke noted. Over the summer, families took one-week shifts watering and caring for the garden. During that time they were able to pick a few items to take home and eat. While some children wouldn’t necessarily eat those items when parents put them on the table, knowing it was from the school’s garden has inspired many children to branch out and try new things, she said.

In addition to expanding the garden, the PAC is also looking at installing an outdoor classroom to give children more time outside in a different environment. Other funds will also be allocated for field trips and other classroom activities.