Over the past thirty years on Salt Spring, Pender, Mayne, Galiano, and Saturna Islands, volunteer teachers, staff, and parents, along with community donors, have established food-growing and learning opportunities at every school, reflecting the Islanders shared values of outdoor, ecological and agricultural education for our children.
In this new Covid world, outdoor learning is safer and school gardens provide great spaces for that. It's remarkable that all the primary schools have active gardens, as well as SIMS and GISS. Annual financial support from the District for these would really help!
With the climate change emergency coupled with this global pandemic, the practical skill of growing food is very important. Many families have related that their kids have shown them how to plant and how to compost as they've created new home gardens these past months. Investing in school gardens in partnership with our islands' many generous and supportive farms and community groups is a great way to build Southern Gulf Island food security and climate resilience in a safe way for all.
SHARING EXPERIENCES ACROSS THE DISTRICT
Over the past few years, we've gathered to share experiences at School Garden Learning Circles held at school gardens on Mayne, Galiano, Pender and Salt Spring Elementary, so far. Please click on the bold text to link to blog posts about these events. The next get-together will be held Autumn 2020.
In 2019 & 2020, we were able to fund Garden-based Learning Workshops for teachers at the annual Professional Development Day, featuring regional experts from Farm-to-School, UBC Farm, and Powell River School District.
Each spring, school garden champions (teachers, staff, volunteers) have been interviewed from each school and updates provided to the SD64 School Board. Download these presentations below:
SEASONAL LEARNING ACTIVITIES
The overall purpose of this School Garden Activity Guide is to encourage and assist children, teachers and garden facilitators to enjoy and learn from fun, creative and healthy school garden experiences.
You are not alone. Your love for, passion for, and rooted interest in school gardening is shared by many many others. Each school garden brings different creative approaches to the table. Hopefully this Guide can connect you to some exciting ideas and useful resources.
There are four main sections based on four seasons in the school gardens: Autumn (September to November); Winter (December to February); Spring (March to May); and Summer (June to August).
We have focused on five key themes: 1) Growing and Harvesting Food; 2) Living Soils; 3) Community Art & Culture; and 4) Ecosystem Science, plus 5) Garden Coordination & Maintenance. Other themes could be added to this living project in the future.
For specific class activities linked to grades and a wonderful evolution of garden knowledge, we highly recommend using The School Garden Curriculum, by Kaci Rae Christopher, published April 2019.
These gardens have been made possible by community volunteers and generous local businesses. Grants and donations have funded larger garden infrastructure and programs, and there are many opportunities out there! Here are a few coming up:
Aug. 31, 2020: Mid-Island Co-op Gas for up to $2k for community projects like school gardens.
Aug 31, 2020: BC Gaming Environment grants, for up to $100k, but need NGO/Non-school partner.
Sept 1, 2020: Habitat Conservation Trust Field Trip GO Grants for field trips up to $600 for a class, or $3500/school.
Sept 15, 2020: SSI Arts Council Community Art Grants for <$1k.
Sept 18, 2020: Nutrition Link Society for ~$2-5k for nutrition education and food skill building for vulnerable British Columbia residents.
Sept 29, 2020: Artists in the Classroom grants to fund projects.
More grants will be added over time, but contact Robin if you'd like suggestions for funding a specific project.