On Friday afternoon, October 9th, eight of us met in Jane Squiers' stunning greenhouse to discuss school gardens on Salt Spring Island. I organized the Thanksgiving-weekend gathering as a Vancouver Foundation "On The Table" event, using their invitation and rsvp platform, and deadlines for the event, as motivation to get us together.
Jane's gigantic greenhouse is full of ripening avocados, citrus, bananas, passion fruit and more and provided an invigorating setting to discuss school gardens on Salt Spring. We spread out and enjoyed tea, wine and a few nibbles and good conversation. Ages of participants ranged from 9 to 77, and we shared our successes, the roots of our passions for this work, and made some plans for the new year together.
Dan Jason (Salt Spring Seeds) brought colourful jars of home-grown dried beans to share, Cali Chang introduced herself as the new Healthy Schools rep from Island Health, Myna Lee Johnstone shared SSI Ag Plans, Peri Lavender shared her SIMS garden vision, Cara Barr encouraged mentorship in gardens for troubled kids, Jane shared experiences as an agricultural extension agent in Papua New Guinea building school gardens, and I shared our experiences at Salt Spring Elementary, what I'd heard about gardens at the other schools, and plans for the future. My daughter Bryn (age 9) participated, too, sharing her favourite parts of "garden club".
I really enjoyed the connections in these isolating times, and it encouraged me to keep going with all sorts of outdoor, food-growing, fun lessons with the kids at Salt Spring Elementary. When I got home, my son Buddy (6) spent a good hour sorting and counting all of Dan's beans and layered them back in the jar to create art (photo below).
Looking forward to more rendezvous with school garden champions this Winter and Spring 2020-21!