The Fruits of Nature: Investigating the Prospects for Fruit Trees on Halifax School Grounds
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Urban youth lack a connection to the natural world and to their food sources. Connections to the natural world can be enhanced by placing food production sites on school grounds. In this study the walk-about interview technique was used to determine interest in implementation of orchards at five schools in Halifax. Nine school leaders were interviewed, including parents, principals, and teachers. Participants were asked to identify existing outdoor collaborative projects on school grounds. These included raised-bed vegetable gardens, fruit trees and bushes, native species and pollinator gardens, outdoor classrooms, and a greenhouse. In addition, participants were asked to identify benefits, barriers, and assistance needed to implement orchards on school grounds. School grounds were also observed to determine space for fruit trees. Results indicated high social and biophysical capacity for orchards on Halifax school grounds. The main benefit identified by participants was increased connection to nature and food sources youth would experience by being involved in the maintenance of a school orchard. Most participants had already witnessed student involvement with food production through existing gardening projects on school grounds. Within the range of opportunities for the urban community of Halifax to engage in learning about food production, schools are likely the most effective.