Last week, updates and plans were gathered from all the school garden champions and administrators of the K-8 schools in the Gulf Islands. Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) also has an incredible culinary and food-growing program (more info here and here). It was time for the annual report to the Board of Trustees to celebrate all the garden-based learning happening around School District #64.
This is the third year we've collectively shared, and we’ve come a long way! Since 2018, school gardens champions have connected across islands and schools, with gatherings on four islands so far, offered two District-wide professional development workshops for teachers (the next will be in April 2021), and maintained the www.schoolgarden.ca website.
For me, the best parts of this year's Board presentation were re-connecting across schools around their incredible programs and collaborating with my energized and insightful 2021 co-presenter, Kris Krug. K.K. is the Galiano Greenhouse & Garden Coordinator and runs their school garden program. He brought his bottle-fed lamb and instantly won over the crowd.
When you see and hear about all that’s gone on especially during the pandemic, you’ll realize how resilient, creative, and necessary these programs are. Not only do they contribute towards future food security in the face of Climate Change, but they get kids and teachers outside where they are generally happier and healthier and where Covid transmission is less likely, and these projects sustain and expand community during a period of isolation and loneliness for many. Hooray for all this good work!
Here are some highlights from the nine schools that reported:
PENDER ISLANDS SCHOOL - from Arthur Kikuchi, parent Garden Coordinator & Farmer
Since the Pandemic and school closure began and in the spring of 2020, planting at the Pender School Garden has been done by my daughter (Nanako-G 2) and my son Kota (G 6). Some leafy vegetables harvested from the garden were donated to the local Food Bank.
Before the summer break, the school was partially opened and I was able to invite a couple of students to help us transplant Squashes. I also brought my chicks and Guinea Pigs to school and three teachers and their students enjoyed a one-day garden/chick club on a sunny day of June, 2020.
During the summer break, SGI Volunteer Resource Centre asked me to hold "Youth Garden Meet-ups" for middle-high school students. I organized four garden-related workshops in cooperation with the coordinator of the Resource Centre. A couple of high school students showed up and worked on seed saving while fixing the garden fence (July-August, 2020).
In the fall (September-November 2020), when I came to pick my kids up, I continued to work on the seed saving while holding the chick club with enthusiastic chick lovers. The students also picked and ate some vegetables growing in the garden. (That's what I wanted to see most.)
Recently, I'm preparing the garden bed using the natural compost (maple leaf) and some organic matters from the forest for spring planting.
Margot Landahl, Pender Vice Principal says “Arthur works tirelessly to tend this garden and always takes time to draw students in after school with chick visits that have led to permanent housing for some chickens. His efforts are greatly appreciated here.”
MAYNE ISLAND SCHOOL – from Selena Flood, School Gardens Parent Volunteer
Last summer, the garden produced over 150lbs of food that was distributed to school families and the Mayne Island Food Bank, including 60lbs of plums and about a dozen MASSIVE spaghetti squash. The biggest one weighed in at 6lbs 10oz! There were also tomatoes, beans, kale, peas, onions, rhubarb, zucchini and more.
Selena has shared advice with teacher Megan Cameron about which crops the kids can grow and enjoy before the end of the school year, and she hopes to get up there for some spring maintenance once we get past this cold spell.
From Amy Dearden, Principal: This year a focus for us is on student led engagement in the garden. Some of our old