School Gardens Program Summer Wrap-Up

Written by Karla Olson

It has been a fruitful, and veggieful, year at the school gardens!
Thanks to the School Gardens Program, we have seen that the best way to get kids excited about eating vegetables is to have them grow them! This year, with the support of our generous donors, 12 schools across Vancouver were able to take part. Students, from kindergarten to grade 12, got into the garden to plant and eat vegetables throughout the year. Students also learned about composting, soils, nutrition, and how to build a healthier food system. Our program is in high demand with schools, parents, and teachers, as it provides hands on learning which helps give children a sense of ownership and empowerment in their own development. To see some wonderful pictures of the program in action, you can check out our blog and Instagram page.

During the week of June 13, schools will host harvest parties to celebrate the bounty in their own gardens. These parties are a wonderful experience for the students, as they not only get to see for themselves the benefits of learning about growing food, but they can also develop a new appreciation for healthy eating. One great example is of a third grade student who went from never having tried turnips, to planting and harvesting them, eating them raw, and then declaring that turnips are her favourite vegetable!

One special high-light happened this year when the parents and teachers at John Norquay Elementary School came up with a plan to prepare for the drought-prone season. They purchased 24 Ollas. These are unglazed bottle-shaped clay pots that are buried in the ground with the neck exposed above the soil surface, 
which are filled with water. This irrigation technology is an ancient method, thought to have originated in Northern Africa. As the soil dries up, the water from the clay pot oozes out into the soil surrounding it. This allows for the garden to stay hydrated longer and is a great water conservation idea. If this system helps maintain a healthier, less resource-dependant garden at this school, SPEC hopes it can bring this technology to all of its other partnering schools in future years.

This year, we are also excited to have Paris Cheng on-board as our summer intern. Paris has been a volunteer with SPEC for the past year, helping maintain the Cambie Square Demonstration Gardens. With the help of volunteers, Paris will help maintain the school gardens throughout the summer while students are away.

— Nikoo, School Gardens Program Coordinator