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.

For inquiries for 2023, 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.

NEW PILOT PROGRAM – Climate Action Workshops, a series of 3 free workshops geared for Grades 3 – 9, aims to educate and empower students about the science climate change, sustainable food systems and renewable energy through hands on activities, story telling and discussions.

Program Details

  • Operates during the school year and summer months.
  • Includes 50 minute to 3 hour facilitated sessions/workshops
  • With a focus on the BC Curriculum 

  • Elementary and Secondary students
  • Teachers with training/mentorship
  • Seasonal day camps and out-of-School care programs.

  • Soil Science
  • Organic Gardening practices 
  • Life/Seasonal Cycles
  • Pollination 
  • Ecological Literacy  
  • Insects and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) 
  • Garden Design 
  • Seed Saving 
  • Climate Friendly Gardening 
  • STEM linked to the  BC Curriculum

Impact

SPEC volunteers started the School Gardens Program over sixteen years 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 over 21 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 Community Elementary - Britannia Secondary - Carnarvon Elementary - Champlain Heights Community School -  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 - Simon Fraser Elementary - Sir Wilfred Grenfell Community School - Southlands Elementary - Thunderbird Elementary -Tillicum Community Annex School

Testimonials

"I have been thoroughly impressed with the garden workshops that my class has participated in this spring, including the lesson planning, hands-on learning, student engagement, and the passionate and knowledgeable educators who have led the School Gardens Program. Not only were the students able to participate in preparing and introducing new seeds into the school’s garden beds, but our students were then also connected to the near-by community garden, so as to engage with tangible learning opportunities each week. We explored everything from pollinators, to insects, to Indigenous medicinal plants, to symbiotic relationships in the garden, and much more. The school garden’s program facilitator had age appropriate learning materials to enhance every one of their lessons."
Teacher Testimonial
Designer

Supporters

Acme Delivery Company

BC Gaming Community Grant

Federal Government via Canada Summer Jobs

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,  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.

*NEW  Two activity sheets in french from lesson 8 (translated by Françoise 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 new or existing  school gardens.

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.

Please choose from one of two options for the site visit questionnaire.