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Galiano School Garden with Kris Krug

The Galiano Club has prioritized school garden programming for years by funding a part-time School Garden Coordinator position, and Kris Krug is now at the helm. He's a brilliant photographer and grower who connects many Gali-folk in creative and fun ways. I was excited to meet him in person, learn more about Galiano's 2021 Garden, and deliver a tower garden on loan for them to try out, so I caught the dawn ferry from Salt Spring and spent this Tuesday morning with KK.

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings Kris works with kids – and community volunteers come by in the afternoons. He also runs a virtual garden speakers program for the middle years students. Other classes plus the preschool use the garden space, too.

Right off, Kris introduced me to Susie Johnson, the middle-years teacher at Galiano Community School, who visited the garden with her daughter on a break. She used to grow hydroponic veggies in Nunavut, and was excited by the Tower Garden. Afterwards, Jennifer Hamer, the Strongstart teacher came by, whose son Malachai also joined us to plant and learn with Kris. We made bright bouquets from leftover flowers from Thrifty Foods that I was gifted to bring.

Jennifer just finished her Masters in Counseling and wants to bring self-calming and anti-anxiety practices into the kids’ school lives, maybe through the garden. She showed me the preschool/ELF play yard, which is amazing! They have a beautiful tiny playhouse with water catchment off the roof and straw bales and herbs in pots and a water spigot for lots of water play. Their new covered outdoor area has coat hooks on the fence photos of all the students, to make it theirs. She uses a “selfie printer” and each instant photo comes to about 33 cents. Good ideas!

Back in the main Galiano Community School garden, the beds are already full of fresh veggie starts from Kris's own home greenhouse, with many personal touches from other Galiano community gardeners, like Rich Soil mix and special cedar trellises. Mature trees and bushes are in bloom, including a gorgeous grapevine, tiny-pruned apple and fig trees, lilac and rosemary, and much more.

We weeded the rhubarb and asparagus patch and planted cucumber seedlings. I showed him our garden scrapbook, and we talked about simple ways to teach and engage kids in the garden, aside from just weeding and planting. One of the school garden picture books I'd brought along was about Will Allen, and it turns out that KK had sold a photograph of Will to the US State Department for a fancy brochure. He has surprising celebrity connections.

Then, conversation ran to owls, irrigation, and other island gardens, and we plan to visit Arthur Kikuchi on Pender in early June and Kris may come to Salt Spring Island this coming week for a garden tour!

That morning, I learned more about the beauty of working one-on-one with students who are otherwise too brilliant in some ways for regular school or who have different skills or interests. Developing that opportunity further with the Education Assistant’s at Salt Spring Elementary would be great. On parting, he gifted our garden squash starts, flower seedlings, and a giant hollyhock to serve as food for the Painted Lady butterflies that all the classes will be releasing soon. Much thanks!

Next time round, I'd love to visit the Galiano Food Forest w/the Conservancy & make time to see Kris's Kale Forest and greenhouse, seaweed compost, and vermiculture operation.


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