Cheakamus Centre & Our Food Philosophy
Cheakamus Centre provides healthy meals made on site from whole ingredients using the absolute minimum of prepared, commercial products, while maximizing the use of seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Using this ethic as our guiding principal we create menus that endeavour to provide the utmost in nutrition while staying inside the restraints of individual budgets and dietary needs. Due to the seasonality of many items, we use the finest products available to us, considering best practices, carbon footprint and nutritional content. Cheakamus Centre’s meals will be the optimal balance of all the above factors to ensure health, enjoyment and affordability.
Use Wholesome Ingredients
Much of the nutrition found in food is lost through excessive processing. When we purchase ingredients for Cheakamus Centre we will, whenever possible, source whole ingredients and make food from scratch, using our own farm protein, garden herbs and vegetables. In this way we can have homemade meals with more nutrition, better flavor and true seasonality. We routinely make our own baked goods, salad dressings, sauces, and much more! This way we accommodate a wide range of special dietary needs, food intolerances and allergies without having to radically alter the menu, minimizing “special” servings. Sugar reduced diets, vegetarians, vegan meals, gluten free, and other food allergies are all far easier to accommodate when you use whole ingredients and are certain of their source.
Divert Waste from Landfill
By buying items in bulk we can limit our contribution to landfills and reduce the amount of packaging involved. Other ways we divert waste from the landfill include: composting food scraps; recycling all bottles, cans, cardboard, glass, and paper; saving food in the kitchen in reusable containers; preparing only the amount of food that is needed; and using appropriate scraps to make stock for soups and sauces, or as feed for our pigs.
Educating young minds
My culinary team and I will strive to prepare sustainable meals that keep our students healthy, happy and energized! Our BC curriculum tied educational programs ensure that time spent outdoors supports learning objectives and core competencies. We also find that teaching students about the food system is very important. Through our small hobby farm, with resident chickens, hens, pigs and goats we are dedicated to an inquiry-based teaching process, where students engage in active problem solving, developing questions, and investigating to find solutions.
What is the food system?
The food system spans the activities, people and resources involved in getting food from field to plate. Along the way, it intersects with aspects of public health, equity and the environment.
Why teach the food system?
The public has shown a growing concern for food system issues, and multiple widespread problems have ties to the food system. Recognizing these connections can empower young people to become not only informed consumers in the future, but also food citizens who can engage in many facets of the food system, from growing their own food to advocating for policies.
Past, Present and Future
Since 1969, Cheakamus Centre has been an integral part of teaching both primary and intermediate aged students the importance of every facet of the food system and life cycle. Specifically, ‘what’ a hobby farm looks like, what the animals eat on the farm, ‘how’ the overall food system works in relation to the animals on the farm. All by identifying the connection and integration of nature and food through sustainable food practices.
Even if you’ve never heard the term “edible education,” there’s a good chance a school in your community is a part of this movement, integrating academics with growing, cooking and sharing wholesome food. On our 165-hectare ecological reserve, picture students…
- Identifying and harvesting wild edible plants.
- Tapping broad leaf maple trees and learning about the process of sap-to-syrup production.
- Picking apples from our very own apple trees and teaching lessons on the various ways in which apples can be used using the apple press.
- How the reproduction process of fruit and plants work, through the conversion of sunlight to useable energy and pollination.
- Bee keeping and the importance of bee pollination in a thriving ecosystem.
- Learning the laying patterns of different poultry species, the incubation process, hatching processes, as well as collecting eggs for use in food.
- Growing garden plants for goats, chicken, turkey and hens.
- Understanding the food waste system.
- How animal “deposits” aid in the growth of vegetation.
- How fish carcases aid in the growth of an enriched soil and aid in a lush coniferous rain forest.
- Learning the salmon cycle through experiential and hands-on experiences by use of our fish hatchery and spawning channels.
- Eagle studies.
Overall, teaching students how to map out all the food system’s interconnected parts, consider their own relationship to the food system, and explore how it developed into the industrialized model we know today is everything that we hope to instill in the minds of students participating in outdoor education at Cheakamus Centre. Couple these types of experiences with nutritious school meals, (perhaps even grown or harvested by the students themselves), and you’ll get a better understanding of what Cheakamus Centre’s sustainable field-to-table lesson plan is all about.
Cheakamus Centre’s overall mission is to establish a fully self-contained ecosystem or a fully sustainable ecosystem, where there is a ‘place’ and purpose for the resident animals on the farm. A place where the farm can sustain itself through an established natural ecosystem, where plants feed animals, animals give nutrients back to the land, and the harvest is a surplus of that system. A future in building and sharing a sustainable-food curriculum for all schools, in all grades, through hands-on learning. From plants to animal products to seafood — how its grown, harvested, processed, and distributed. Where students examine conventional industrial practices, explore sustainable alternatives, and consider the impact both have on human health and the environment, as well as how the food system affects consumers and communities.
Wade Rowland Executive Chef
Background on Cheakamus Centre
Cheakamus Centre is an overnight field school and environmental studies facility. The Centre is owned by the North Vancouver School District (NVSD) and managed by the Listel Hospitality Group and offers a wide variety of experiential environmental and cultural programs to children and adults from the Sea to Sky corridor, lower mainland, and beyond. Program offerings also include youth leadership, recreation, and other hands-on experiences intended to instill in young learners a sense of respect and appreciation for the natural world. Cheakamus Centre also hosts visitors from around the globe for special events, such as weddings, retreats, camps, conferences, seminars, and workshops. The broader vision is to advance Cheakamus Centre as a centre of excellence in environmental education and sustainable hospitality.
To be a dynamic centre of excellence for environmental and indigenous cultural education, and a welcoming place for learning, gathering and sharing in nature.
To create a hub of authentic, meaningful experiences that connect people to the natural world, and inspire sustainable values and behaviours.
To support the Board of Education in demonstrating leadership in environmental education and sustainability practices in the delivery of our programs and the management of our site and facilities.
Our Core Values:
Discovery, Stewardship, Community, Openness, Responsibility, Innovation and Team Spirit.