Fresh Falls Market


Our project started with a lot of data collection in our school and broader community. Students in Grade 6/7 at James Morden Public School were responsible for conducting community mapping projects and student/family surveys throughout our school. Our mapping data collection was done through Google Earth where students had to pin different types of services that contributed to a healthy community (i.e., parks, restaurants, clinics, grocery stores, etc.). Students discovered from the mapping data that our local farmers market was going to be moving much farther away and that we have a lot of fast food restaurants in our area. To bring more local and healthy produce to our community, students decided to launch our Fresh Falls Market! Students then collected more data by leading presentations and data collection surveys using Google Forms throughout our school to collect data on our school community. They asked questions related to food access, food preferences, and food security to gain a better understanding of student families. Please feel free to browse our data presented in the Google Slides below. The slides were also used to organize instructional lessons connected to the Fresh Falls Market.

In summary, we learned so much from our surveys! Our family survey showed that 76.4% of respondents only sometimes or never go to farmers markets. 59.2% of respondents go to fast food restaurants 1-3 times per week, 11.3% go 4-7 times per week, 4.2% go 8-10 times per week, and 1.4% go more than 10 times per week. This shows that a large portion of our school population regularly eat at fast food restaurants. 68% of respondents have at least 4 people in their household. This helps us to know how much food families need to consume normally. Our most important learning from our family survey were the barriers that prevent people from buying local fresh produce. 76.1% of people stated that the cost of local produce would impede them from going to a farmer’s market, and the next highest response was that distance would impede people from shopping at a local farmers market. This reinforces data from our community assessment that there are no farmer’s markets nearby to shop at.

Initial Planning

After collecting data, students analyzed the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to gain a better understanding of how their market could take action towards a global problem at a local level. We then developed our market mission statement: We plan to bring affordable food prices to our school within walking distance for our community. We want to ensure people have access to nutritious fresh food to promote good health and well-being. We promise to provide quality education on food preparation, cooking, and eco friendly food waste.

With the Fresh Falls Market in mind, we were able to connect with United Way and our local school nurse to develop a partnership with these community members. United Way committed to an additional $175 donation each month to increase the amount of produce in each bag. Using students’ ideas for an action plan, Ms. Tkach then developed an interdisciplinary unit that would focus on Food Literacy, Sustainability, and Financial Literacy. As part of our mission, students hoped to provide more locally sourced produce. The Learning for Sustainable Futures Grant was used to support the purchase of our Vireo Hydroponics System. With this system, we were able to add additional school-grown produce to our Fresh Falls Market.

We also hosted a guest talk with another school nurse within our board who had successfully launched a pop-up market at one of the schools he supports. Nurse Austin provided students with tools and an outline of how to logistically launch a market. Ms. Tkach connected with a local produce distributors, Lococos, and students began practicing financial literacy skills with old Lococos orders to better understand cost per unit or cost per kg. This was tied into their rates, ratios, and financial literacy math curriculum.


As a class, students made the majority of decisions together and Ms. Tkach, with Nurse Jenn (our school nurse) and Grace (from United Way), facilitated some of the logistics of the market. We decided the market would be the last Wednesday of every month and that families would be able to buy a produce bag for only $5.00 through our school cash online portal. Families could buy as many bags as they wanted to. As well, we offered a Pay it Forward option where families or staff could purchase a produce bag for another family. These were then evenly distributed throughout the school. As a team, we settled on the school library as our location for the market since we could section off a corner of the library allowing for other classes to still be in there. Students organized themselves into many different roles and responsibilities to bring the market to life. Below are some of the roles and responsibilities students had:

Print Marketers: Developed our school posters and Fresh Falls Market Logo.

Social Media/Video Marketers: Developed our Fresh Falls Market commercial

Communications Team: Developed our school announcement and email reminders for families about our Fresh Falls Market each month.

Customer Service Team: Developed monthly Google Form surveys to collect ongoing feedback from families purchasing the produce bags.

Recipe Developers: Supported the decisions on what produce ended up in the bags and worked with the Financial Planners to develop affordable healthy recipes. Some of our recipes included garden vegetable soup (January), power bowls (February), Easter side dishes (April), and Ramadan side dishes (April).

Financial Planners: Made decisions about the most cost effective produce based on our total number of orders ($5 per bag) and our additional $175 from United Way. They also collaborated with the recipe developers to ensure the recipe was within our budget. The Financial Planners further worked closely with Nurse Jenn to develop our final order the week before the market and submit our order to Lococos.

Stock Managers: Responsible for counting all our produce to ensure our estimates and ratios would be evenly distributed among the bags. They worked closely with the Financial Planners on the day of the market. As well, the stock managers were responsible for harvesting and packaging our hydroponics produce in compostable bags.

Market Managers: Organized the produce stations on the day of the market and handing out produce as students came to pick-up their bags.

Runners: Used the produce bag order sheet to go from class to class to pick-up students and bring them to the market for their bag collection. The runners also distributed the Pay it Forward Bags.

Our first market launch was at the end of January, 2024. Since then, we have held a market on the last Wednesday of every month. Over the course of our monthly markets, students would switch around roles and responsibilities to practice different skills and engage in new learning experiences. The switches were up to students to ensure that they felt comfortable with their job while also trying to take some risks with their learning.

Our Fresh Falls Market was very multi-faceted with many moving parts throughout the whole school year. Since this project was in partnership with the Niagara Region and United Way, we had many community partners attend our markets to help with the organization and distribution of produce. These volunteers helped support students on the day of the market. The lead educator, Ms. Tkach, would also support during the day of the market with logistics and hydroponics produce distribution.

Reflection & Celebration

During the lead up to each market, students would continue their interdisciplinary learning to reflect and research new knowledge that would help support the Fresh Falls Market success. One of the lessons students engaged in was the Traveling Vegetable (lesson from the Vireo Education portal). Students analyzed the packaging of all the January produce from Lococos. They then calculated the distance each vegetable probably traveled to Niagara Falls based on the most likely means of transportation (i.e., boat, truck, train) and distance determined in Google Maps. Using their understanding of rates, students then calculated the amount of CO2 emissions based on the type of transportation and distance traveled. Students had some big discoveries about the difference between bok choy shipped from Shanghai vs. our locally grown bok choy in the Vireo Hydroponics system! They had a much better understanding of what locally sourced produce means and applied this throughout our Fresh Falls Market ordering.

Our market has become a necessary service to meet school nutrition and healthy living standards. So many families have been accessing our Fresh Falls Market Produce. Many families have indicated in our monthly surveys how satisfied they are with the produce bags and the affordability of them. We have only received positive feedback from families to continue the market! Students are still running the Fresh Falls Market and continue to seek feedback through monthly surveys. We are very hopeful this market will continue during the 2024-25 school year!

Our Fresh Falls Market had a huge impact throughout the past few months. In January, we had a boom of 273 bags sold and 1802 lbs (817 kg) of produce distributed. In February, we sold 87 bags and 522 lbs (234 kg) of produce distributed. In March, we sold 87 bags and 609 lbs (276 kg) of produce distributed. In April, we sold 100 bags and 300 lbs (136 kg) distributed. The weight varied depending on the type of produce students ordered. Students often ordered about 4-5 different types of produce and supplemented some bags with additional hydroponics produce. We were usually able to add a leafy green (i.e., lettuce, swiss chard, bok choy) to 66 bags with the hydroponics produce. Some of the produce ordered from Lococos included: lettuce, potatoes, bananas, oranges, apples, carrots, plums, lemons, onions and more! It was always fun for students to try to solve the puzzle of what they could afford from Lococos based on how many bags they sold paired with the additional donation from United Way each month!

Overall, we believe our consistent orders of produce bags show a need in our community for more affordable produce. Food insecurity was identified as a major barrier for families to access fresh, healthy food, and we do believe our action directly supports the needs of students and families. Our school community has adopted the Fresh Falls Market as an important facet to meeting our equity and sustainability goals at James Morden Public School. It has reached students and families in every grade level. The grade 6/7s who launched The Fresh Falls Market have truly taken ownership over the market and continue to be enthusiastic about its success!


Check out our presentation here!

Also, check out our Fresh Falls Market commercial here!

1. No Poverty
2. Zero Hunger
3. Good Health and Well-Being
10. Reduced Inequalities
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
13. Climate Action
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