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 and youth to their food, classmates, nature, and community by delivering inclusive and interactive programming on environmental and food literacy education for K-12 schools, municipalities, and not-for-profit organizations during the year.
For inquiries or to book a workshop, please email the School Gardens Program Coordinator, Sharlene at Sharlene@spec.bc.ca
Explore the 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.
Follow us on Instagram for teaching resources and activities.
- School Garden/Ecological Literacy lessons (K-12)
- Camp Programs (5-19 yr)
- Garden Site Assessments
- Out-of-School care programs
- Workshops (all ages)
- Training/mentorship for educators
- Climate Friendly Gardening
- First Peoples Principles
- Garden Design/Planning
- Life/Seasonal Cycles
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
- Organic Gardening practices
- Seed Saving
- Soil Science
- STEM linked to the BC Curriculum
SPEC volunteers started the School Gardens Program over fifteen years ago to introduce food gardens and education to school age children and youth. Since the inception of the program, we have helped establish food gardens, supported food literacy, and led environmental education lessons in over 20+ different schools across Vancouver. The Program continues to adapt and expand to other communities and school districts to proactively respond to both educator needs and current environmental issues.
Admiral Seymour Elementary – Bayview Community School – Britannia Community Elementary – Britannia Secondary – Burnaby Village Museum – Carnarvon Elementary – Champlain Heights Community School – Eastside Family Place – École des Colibris – Garibaldi Annex – General Brock Elementary – Grandview Woodland Food Connection – Henry Hudson Elementary School – Hillcrest Community Centre – Insight Global Education – John Norquay Elementary – KidSafe Project Society – Kitsilano Secondary School – L’Ecole Bilingue – Little Mountain Neighbourhood House – Lord Selkirk Elementary – Queen Elizabeth Elementary – Queen Mary Elementary – Richmond Youth Addition Services Society – Riley Park Community Garden – Samuel Brighouse Elementary – Simon Fraser Elementary – Sir Wilfred Grenfell Community School – Southlands Elementary – St. George’s School – Thunderbird Elementary -Tillicum Community Annex School
Acme Delivery Company
BC Gaming Community Grant
Federal Government via Canada Summer Jobs
The Hamber Foundation
School Parents and Individual Donors
Curriculum Resource: 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, a free resource. 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.
The development of the Green Thumbs at School lesson book was made possible by funding provided by the Vancouver Foundation.
Garden Site Assessments: For New and Existing Outdoor Learning Spaces
SPEC provides one-on-one consultations for new or existing school gardens through a site assessment (September to October and March only). The consultation consists of an on-site visit to discuss and determine best garden locations, aspect, water sources, crop planning, addressing climate adaptability, composting systems, infastructure, and materials sourcing and funding sources. Virtual site assessments are available as well (pricing varies).
A follow-up written report is included. Consultations are $150.
Please choose from one of two options for the site visit questionnaire.
Here are some great resources to help you dive deeper into gardening and food literacy or learn even more about the School Gardens Program.
- Vancouver Board of Education School Food Garden Policy
- West Coast Seeds Gardening Basics
- West Coast Seeds Fall & Winter Planting Guide
- West Coast Seeds Planting Chart
- West Coast Seeds Gardening Guide
- Environmental Youth Alliance – Seedlings and Workshops for School Communities
- Site Assessment Guide by Melissa Iverson