Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN) has been a Metro Vancouver member since 2009; farming is part of their vision for a sustainable economy. The TFN Farm School is a collaboration with the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, Kwantlen University.
Inside a plastic greenhouse, a dozen people look closely at insects on leaves of plants. One woman using a hand lens confirms the identity, “Ah, predator mites!”
This is the hands-on classroom of the TFN Farm School, a partnership between Tsawwassen First Nation and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Into its second year, the 20-acre site on Tsawwassen First Nation land includes market gardens, an orchard, farm animals, and plots available for use by graduate students.
“We are very happy to have the farm school located on Tsawwassen lands,” says Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Bryce Williams. “This farm is different from a typical farm because there’s a combination of traditional agricultural practices with indigenous teachings.”
Student Mabel Williams says, “I have learned so much about organizing with groups of people. This isn’t something you can do on your own.”
Farm Manager Corine Singfield explains that harvests are sold through weekly food box subscriptions and farmer’s markets, and that a strong connection grows among students. “We build family here. We get really close.” She adds, “The first year, almost all of our students were First Nation. We had students from Musqueam, Squamish and Tsawwassen First Nation. This year is about half and half.”
The Farm School is also part of a regional food system network which maps out current and potential actions. “It is an opportunity to transfer knowledge and expand best practices to other parts of the region,” says Metro Vancouver Planner Jaspal Marwah. “It also provides the opportunity to address more of the systemic long term challenges in the regional food system. TFN Farm School and their partnership with KPU is one example of those actions.”
In September 2016, the TFN Farm School celebrated with a harvest feast. Attending the event, Chief Williams stated, “We are just thrilled to have this opportunity for our members to learn about different farming techniques and be able to apply that to future employment opportunities in the industry.”
Learn more about Kwantlen Polytechnic University Farm Schools
Learn more about the Tsawwassen First Nation
Learn more about Metro Vancouver’s Regional Food System Strategy toward a sustainable, resilient and healthy food system.