SCHOOL GARDENS PROGRAM
We have created a new online education platform Neighbourhood Nature School. A social space where anyone can participate, from the comfort of their home and outside in nature. This resource is ideal for educators and parents seeking nature based lessons and activities.
We'll cover topics on local food systems, and ecosystems, gardening, nature observations, climate change, renewable energy, and seasonal recipes. The lessons have direct ties to the BC curriculum in the areas of science, math and art!
We look forward to returning to our schools safely to teach for the 2020-2021 school year. For inquiries or to book lessons, please email the School Gardens Program Coordinator Sharlene Singh at Sharlene@spec.bc.ca
School Gardens are gaining ground as important green spaces for learning, especially outside in nature. These living classrooms engage students to reconnect to the natural world, through observation and exploration of biodiversity, plant life, nature cycles and food literacy. Gardening has been shown to improve mental, physical and emotional health, improve focus, patience, teamwork and encourage students to make healthier food choices.
SPEC volunteers started the School Gardens Program over a decade ago to introduce both food gardens and food education to school age children. Since the inception of the program, we have helped establish food gardens, supported food literacy and lead environmental education lessons in 13 different schools across Vancouver. We have seen a strong and growing interest in this area as we continue to expand to other schools in other districts.
Our goal is to connect children to their food, to each other, to nature, and to their community.
The School Gardens Program is facilitated by the School Gardens Program Coordinator and runs from September to June each school year in both elementary and high schools. We also work with community groups and seasonal day camps and Out-Of-School Care programs to lead garden and nature based activities.
On average, each lesson runs from 30 to 50 minutes. Our lessons incorporate the re-designed BC Curriculum to engage students in fun and interactive, hands-on, food and garden activities on topics such as soils, composting, seed saving and travel, flowers and pollination, beneficial insects, garden planning, design and native plants focused on the areas of science, art and math along with the Core Competencies
Each facilitated lesson is $150 which includes lesson delivery, any prep time, and additional resources. We offer discounted rates however it is dependent on funding support which changes year to year. Please contact us for more information.
Educators! Are you interested in using your outdoor space as a classroom but not sure how to start?
Are you searching for resources and lesson plans for each season? grade level?
The SPEC School Gardens Program is currently collecting feedback from educators across BC with their Outdoor Learning Teacher Survey. Please take a few moments to contribute your feedback and suggestions.
The survey closes December 21, 2020
We looking for volunteers! Do you enjoy working with school aged children? We're seeking 10 volunteers to help us facilitate school garden activities, Monday to Friday afternoons. Please visit the Volunteer page for the full volunteer description and information on how to sign up!
"It is so wonderful to have someone from SPEC who can guide us and organize lessons/activities at appropriate times. I find myself integrating the garden into my teaching practice a lot more than I used to. Thanks to SPEC, I am more aware of what is in the garden and how I can use it as an outdoor learning space. I am constantly encouraging my kids to take care of our Earth, and the garden is one way to do that (ie. composting, growing own food, insects)."– Testimonial from a teachers survey
We helped establish organic food gardens and/or support food literacy at:
Admiral Seymour Elementary - Bayview Community School - Britannia Secondary - Carnarvon Elementary - Champlain Heights Community School - Ecole des Colibris - Garibaldi Annex - General Brock Elementary - Henry Hudson Elementary School - John Norquay Elementary - Kitsilano Secondary School - L'Ecole Bilingue - Lord Selkirk Elementary - Queen Elizabeth Elementary - Queen Mary Elementary - Simon Fraser Elementary - Sir Wilfred Grenfell Community School - Thunderbird Elementary -Tillicum Community Annex School
There is a growing demand from teachers, parents and schools to get involved in the program. Our challenge is to obtain the necessary funding to cover lesson expenses as well as expenses related to garden materials and tools. If you are interested in making a contribution to this program, please visit the DONATE section of our website.
In 2015, SPEC published a garden curriculum package, named Green Thumbs at School: SPEC Food Garden Lesson Book comprised of 9 lesson plans for teachers, with activity sheets, and 12 colourful posters. The lessons teach children about soils, worms, composting, how seeds travel, seed saving, leaves and how they work, flowers and pollinators, insects in the garden, and planning and designing food gardens.
The lessons support the BC Ministry of Education Integrated Resource Package (IRP) Guidelines for Science. These lesson plans are used to deliver high quality lessons to partnering schools, as well as accessible via the internet and in print to teachers and other organizations to use to deliver similar lessons in other classrooms in Vancouver and beyond. SPEC's School Gardens Program is linked to the new BC Curriculum K to 7 Science Area of Learningand Core Competencies. A number of these lessons have been translated to French and you can find them here (Lesson 3, lesson 7and lesson 9).
Looking to start an organic food garden or are you seeking new ideas for your existing project? Explore SPEC's School Gardens Start Up Guide.
SPEC provides consultations for existing or planned school food gardens and orchards. The consultation consists of an on-site visit to discuss and determine best garden locations, aspect, water sources, quick soil test, planting schedule, best suited fruit and vegetable varieties, composting systems, materials sourcing, maintenance planning and funding sources. For existing gardens, recommendations will be made for improvements and possible expansion. A follow-up written report will also be included. Site Assessments are $150.
Please fill out the google form to request a consultation.
Thank you to the funders and businesses for their in-kind donations to our program for the 2019-2020 school year.
Acme Delivery Company, BC Gaming Community Grant, BC Hydro, Canadian Tire, Federal Government through Canada Summer Jobs and NSERC PromoScience, Click, Gandy's Home Hardware, The Hamber Foundation, Lee Valley Tools, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, UBC Botanical Garden, VanCity Community Fund, West Coast Seeds, Whole Foods Market, School Parents and SPEC individual donors.