SPEC

School Gardens Program

School gardens are important green spaces for learning, discovery and exploration.

These living classrooms help students reconnect with the natural world through observation and exploration of biodiversity, plant life, nature cycles and food literacy. Gardening also improves mental, physical and emotional health, as well as patience, teamwork, and learning to make healthier food choices.

The School Gardens Program strives to connect children to their food, classmates, nature, and community through interactive workshops delivered at schools during the school year.

We look forward to returning to our schools safely to teach for the 2021 – 2022 school year. For inquiries or to book lessons, please email the School Gardens Program Coordinator Sharlene Singh at Sharlene@spec.bc.ca

We have also 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.  

Program Details

  • Operates during the school year
  • Includes 50 minute to 1.5 hour facilitated sessions
  • With a focus on the BC Curriculum

  • Elementary and Secondary students
  • Seasonal day camps and out-of-School care programs.

  • Soil Science
  • Seasonal Cycles 
  • Plants Growing Requirements 
  • Pollination 
  • Ecological Literacy  
  • Insects and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) 
  • Garden Design 
  • Seed Saving 
  • Gardening with Native Plants
  • Areas of science, art and math linked to the new BC Curriculum K to 7 Science Area of Learning and Core Competencies.

Impact

SPEC volunteers started the School Gardens Program over a decade ago to introduce food gardens and education to school age children. Since the inception of the program, we have helped establish food gardens, supported food literacy, and led environmental education lessons in 13 different schools across Vancouver. We have seen a strong and growing interest as we continue to expand to other schools and districts. 

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 - Southlands Elementary - Thunderbird Elementary -Tillicum Community Annex School

Testimonials

"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
Designer

Supporters

Acme Delivery Company

BC Gaming Community Grant

Federal Government via Canada Summer Jobs

NSERC PromoScience

Click

Gandy's Home Hardware

The Hamber Foundation

School Parents and Individual Donors

Green Thumbs at School

SPEC believes quality education on food literacy should be accessible to all. That’s why we created Green Thumbs at School: SPEC Food Garden Lesson Book, which is free and available to the public. The lesson book consists of 9 lesson plans for teachers with activity sheets and 12 colourful posters on soils, worms, composting, seeds, pollinators, and more.

The lessons support the BC Ministry of Education Integrated Resource Package (IRP) Guidelines for Science. Several of these lessons have been translated to French and you can find them here: Lesson 3, lesson 7 and lesson 9.

Including a two activity sheets from lesson 8 translated by Francoise Raunet on insect anatomy and insect life cycles

The development of the Green Thumbs at School lesson book was made possible by funding provided by the Vancouver Foundation.

Need help starting a school garden?

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, best suited fruit and vegetable varieties, composting systems, materials sourcing and funding sources. 

For existing gardens, recommendations will be made for improvements and possible expansion. A follow-up written report will also be included. Consultations are $150.

You can also use SPEC’s School Gardens Start Up Guide for free to assist with your planning efforts.

Get Involved

The SPEC School Gardens Program is seeking 8 energetic volunteers to assist with leading garden and food literacy activities for school aged children outdoors on school grounds or nearby green spaces from March to June 2022. 

To learn more about the role and apply to volunteer, please visit our volunteer page.