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SD64 Pro-D @ Fernwood School Garden

Updated: Mar 16, 2022

February 11, 2022 was our District-wide Professional Development (Pro-D) day for teachers in the Southern Gulf Islands. Thanks to HCTF WildBC Facilitator funding & a Neighbourhood Small Grant from Victoria Foundation/Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, I was able to offer two hands-on workshops (morning & afternoon) for teachers from four SD64 schools: Fernwood Elementary, Salt Spring Elementary, Pender Islands School, and Gulf Islands Secondary in the Fernwood School Garden.


Eat a Rainbow

After settling in, pouring ourselves jars of warm tea (it was a cold morning!), and introductions, I shared my favourite garden-based learning curriculum guides and resources.

As we shared challenges and opportunities in our respective gardens, we painted smooth beach rocks with circles of rainbow colours to be used for Rainbow Exploration games in the garden or other habitats--I've used both paint chips and painted rocks, but prefer hiding the rocks around the garden to start with so that students have to spread out and explore, then they find items around the space that match the colour of each rock they find and bring them back and collectively arrange these natural treasures in a pattern with others (usually a rainbow, similar to this Rainbow Chips lesson from LifeLab).

Then we role-played the Eat a Rainbow game and made a beautiful rainbow salad to enjoy for our lunch. In the Eat a Rainbow game, teams try to sell their colour and its health benefits to the rest of the class by making up an advertisement. A big group drawing of body systems in matching colours can also be added to lock it in visually.

These lessons are drawn from "A Rainbow of Color", pgs. 97-100 in Whole Kids & American Heart Association's FREE School Gardens Lesson Plans, and "Eat a Rainbow" pgs. 321-322 in The Growing Classroom; Garden-Based Science & Nutrition Activity Guide by LifeLab (2016).


Plant Parts Snack, Mason Bees & Camas Bulbs

1. Six Plant Parts: First, we played a plant part matching game (find your part) where students are given pictures or actual fruits/veggies to form plant part teams, followed by a group plant part foods discussion (root, stem, leaf, flower, fruit, seed). Then, we made six-plant-part canapes with goat cheese/vegan spread on crackers, where we arranged one of each plant part on the sticky spread and showed it to one another before eating -- always a super-fun & tasty activity! (photo from Fall 2021 with students)

These activities are similar to "Eating What We Grow" in Get Growing! Activities for Food and Garden Learning from the UBC Farm (2010), where students categorize food into plant parts. I also like "Plant Parts That We Eat" (pgs. 80-86) in Whole Kids & American Heart Association's School Gardens Lesson Plans, and "Stem, Root, Leaf or Fruit?" pgs 161-162 in The Growing Classroom; Garden-Based Science & Nutrition Activity Guide by LifeLab, and the snack is similar to LifeLab's "Power Snack" activity (pgs 319-320).


One of the best outcomes of this Pro-D Day at Fernwood was the decision to dedicate one garden bed to Blue Camas and Indigenous foods. I shared some of the significance of camas as one of the most important native foods to our area--the starch to accompany fish--and the history of Indigenous farming here. Here are a few favourite historic and informational resources about camas: "Camas, an Educational Resource," by Elise Krohn (includes the wonderful story below); “Restoring Camas and Culture to Lekwungen and Victoria,” Focus Magazine, 2006: An interview with Lekwungen Cheryl Bryce; “Camas Country,” from; and "Coast Salish Camas Cultivation -" by Russel Barsh and Madrona Murphy.

Then, teacher Lenore read this story about the origin of camas out loud for us all:

I shared our experiences establishing a camas bed at Salt Spring Elementary with Indigenous language signage. Here's the First Voices link of audio to show how to pronounce the Sencoten word ḰL̵O,EL. Here's how to pronounce the Hul'q'umi'num word for camas: speenhw. Then, the Fernwood teachers decided to plan their own!

(photo of the Salt Spring Elementary Camas Garden, plus large camas bulbs above are from the Kwiaht research garden, Lopez Island, in the nearby San Juan Islands, which I hope to visit someday.)

3. Mason Bee/Early Pollinator Plantings

We ended the day by discussing Mason Bees as a wonderful learning experience for students, admiring Andy McPhee's Mason Bee lodges, and planting some early pollinator flowers around the garden to brighten the space. Here's a detailed blog post about Mason Bees in school gardens, if you'd like to try!

Thanks so much to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation's WildBC Facilitator Program & the Victoria Foundation and Clayoquot Biosphere Trust's NSG grants for sponsoring these workshops!

A great time was had by all!


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