Leaf by leaf, students from Dene High School in La Loche are trying to make a difference in the amount of fresh foods grown locally in the northern community.

Because of its remote location and climate, having fresh produce brought into or grown in the community has traditionally been difficult.

The students approached President’s Choice Children’s Charity (PCCC), an organization that funds food programs to tackle childhood hunger, with the idea of a greenhouse and the organization responded by providing a grant for a modular farm.

This farm is about the size of a storage container and can be used in both the winter and the summer months.

“It’s quite amazing when you walk into the container,” said PCCC executive director PCCC Lisa Battistelli.

“It’s leafy greens and beautiful green things growing everywhere.”

In one year the students produced five tonnes of fresh herbs and vegetables including kale, spinach, arugula, beans, peppers, and tomatoes.

The food grown by the students provides the school’s breakfast and lunch programs with fresh salad, healthy smoothies and herbs for cooking. Any extra food at the end of the month is sold at a community farmers market. Battistelli said many of the community members and students tried foods like kale for the first time this year thanks to the modular farm.

“They want to try it because they grow it themselves,” Battistelli told CTV News. “That’s super exciting.”

Battistelli said success is not only in the production of the food, but it’s also about building confidence and leadership skills in the students by being part of the growing process.

The program has been so successful in La Loche that the PCCC plans to open two more modular farms in the coming year, one in British Columbia and another in Saskatchewan, Battistelli said.