Circles of Sharing

Teachers, Community & Parent Volunteers, Island Health and BC Farm to School representatives from Pender, Galiano, Salt Spring and beyond gathered on this past Thursday to share school garden experiences. After catching early ferries, the morning began with sunrise on Medicine Beach, Pender Island.

At the Slow Coast Cafe, we took turns describing the garden projects to one another, peppered with vignettes of recollections of special moments.

Some of these included delight when students used the gardens in surprising ways like for quiet reading or putting on plays. Others described a special calm that came to high energy students when they entered the gardens. All-school garden lunches and unique community connections were also reminisced.

Pender School's garden includes a cob toolshed with a living roof rain-harvest system, a greenhouse and bug hotel, along with a deer-fenced garden, hazelnut orchard and pizza oven.

After a tour of the Pender School Garden with Julie Johnston, the group dug into discussing a Gulf Islands School Gardens Activity Calendar that is currently underway. We passed around half-a-dozen examples of activity guides from elsewhere, then each of us took half-an-hour to lay out a favourite school garden activity, complete with materials and handy tips. The goal is to publish this resource by March, 2019.

Following our ferry lunch en route to Salt Spring, the group enjoyed a presentation about regional school garden projects by Aaren Topley, of BC Farm to School and then toured the Salt Spring Elementary gardens.

We ended by passing a hat around full of unique heirloom seeds from Dan Jason at Salt Spring Seeds, each picking out one, then sharing its name and what we'd take from the day.

Several classes were using the garden, as if on cue, as the library presentation and tours took place.

Out in the sunshine surrounded by winter kale, sunflower stalks, mulched garlic beds, and all the hope and potential that school gardens offer, someone remarked: "I feel like I've finally found my tribe and feel so much more supported in our school garden project after today."

Funding for the gathering was provided by the Salt Spring Island Foundation, Island Health, the SD64 DPAC, and BC Farm to School.

Website contact: Robin riverjenkinson<@>