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Classroom in nature initiative in Antigonish County continues to blossom

Nancy Smith (left), Farm Credit Canada (FCC) relationship manager, recently visited the People’s Place Library to present a $25,000 cheque to representatives of the Acadian Forest and Farm School, including Riley Chisholm, Peter Dowd, Josef Dowd and Monica Schuegraf. The financial boost will help with completion of a one-room schoolhouse, including a solar lighting system, along with a small parking area in Ohio, Antigonish County. Corey LeBlanc
Nancy Smith (left), Farm Credit Canada (FCC) relationship manager, recently visited the People’s Place Library to present a $25,000 cheque to representatives of the Acadian Forest and Farm School, including Riley Chisholm, Peter Dowd, Josef Dowd and Monica Schuegraf. The financial boost will help with completion of a one-room schoolhouse, including a solar lighting system, along with a small parking area in Ohio, Antigonish County. Corey LeBlanc - Corey LeBlanc

Acadian Forest and Farm School receives support from FCC

The Acadian Forest and Farm School continues to achieve milestones.    

Thanks to a recent financial boost from Farm Credit Canada (FCC), through its Community AgriSpirit Fund, the non-profit organization will be able to complete construction of its one-room schoolhouse, including a solar lighting system, along with a small parking area, on its Ohio, Antigonish County property.    

“We are absolutely delighted,” Riley Chisholm said of the $25,000 contribution from FCC.     

She added “construction on the building site has already begun, and we will be continuing throughout the fall.”      

Describing it as “quite a process,” Chisholm added volunteers recently completed the school driveway.    

She agreed work parties have been – and will continue to be – integral to the growth and success of the initiative.    

“People have really stepped up. It has been really wonderful,” Chisholm said of the community support.    

She added that has been there – and it continues to grow – since she and her husband, Gabe, initiated their plan to launch a forest and farm school.    

“This model emerged out of, I believe, a reaction to conventional schooling systems, in which children were increasingly alienated from their environment,” Chisholm explained in an earlier interview.    

“I think we, increasingly, understand it is fairly paramount to have opportunities for our children to know their place within and have a relationship with our environment.”    

As for a timeline to complete the schoolhouse, Chisholm said, she could only provide a “guesstimate,” considering the importance of volunteer labour to the process.    

“We hope to have work parties in the winter,” she added, noted the target date is February.    

Before then, Chisholm said, they may erect a temporary canvas structure.    

“Ultimately, infrastructure in such a school environment is not that central,” she noted, adding “it is about the people.”    

Along with site clearing and trail blazing, Chisholm said the school has provided workshops and day trips, including a paddling excursion on Cameron Lake led by association president Peter Dowd.    

For more on the Acadian Forest and Farm School initiative, visit their Facebook page – www.facebook.com/AcadianForestandFarmSchool - or email forestschoolantigonish@gmail.com.

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