Farm to School BC – Vancouver Region Spring 2018 Blog

F2SVA Spring 2018 Blog: Pollinating Spring Gardens

Spring is in the air! Across the Vancouver region, you may spy Indian Plums flowering, Cottonwood buds opening, and bees waking from their winter hibernations.

The honey bees are active at North Vancouver’s Loutet Farm


Now might be good time to sample tender dandelion leaves growing on your school grounds. Check out Elise Krohn’s Wild Foods and Medicines resource for more information about what coastal native species you might find blooming this Spring. Please respect the 4R’s when harvesting: respect, reciprocity, relevance and responsibility. We recommend that you request guidance from an experienced community member, and follow best practices – see Elise’s tips before you harvest.

Now may also be a good time to build insect hotels and watch your bee cocoons hatch. Check out this Mason Bee Resource Guide developed by Think&EatGreen@School for more information and ideas to get you started.

What’s buzzing around Vancouver?

Pollinator hotels at Thunderbird Elementary and Britannia Secondary schools are ready to house a full neighbourhood of bees and other beneficial insects this season (Photos: F2SVA Hub).

Many schools across the Vancouver Region are incorporating pollinator habitats into their school gardens; providing homes and a water source for insects will help your food garden flourish! To declare yourself a “Bee School” and be part of a national movement to protect pollinators through education, click here. You can also register your garden, find some great local resources and learn how to get started at Feed the Bees.

Queen Alexandra’s Indigenous Foodscapes Committee visited the garden this winter, joined by Metis Herbalist Lori Snyder, to explore what Indigenous food and plant assets currently grow on school grounds (Photos: F2SVA Hub).

Schools participating in Vancouver’s Indigenous Foodscapes projects, funded by the City of Vancouver and Ministry of Health, are planning their living libraries of native plants on their school grounds. They are exploring opportunities to integrate these plants into the classroom.

Students busy at work in the field (photo: Environmental Youth Alliance).

The Environmental Youth Alliance’s 2018 Pollinator Citizen Science study engages youth to evaluate the benefits of mowed lawns, un-mown lawns, and lawns planted with a pollinator mix for indigenous bee species. Read more about the project here

Plants donated to Harmony Garden by the Environmental Youth Alliance (Photo: Janine Curry, Edible Garden Project).

The Edible Garden Project’s Pollinator Project brings pollinator plants to gardens across the North Shore, including Loutet Farm, Queen Mary School, and Squamish Nation’s X̱wemelch’stn Harmony Garden.

Elementary’s school gardens are ready for a new growing season (Photo: F2SVA Hub).
Rockridge students tend to their garden (Photo: Rockridge Secondary website).

Congratulations to the three Vancouver Area schools who received Farm to School funding this year: Tomekichi Homma Elementary and Archibald Blair Elementary schools in Richmond, and Rockridge Secondary school in West Vancouver! We look forward to supporting your school garden programs, including the purchase of a new composter unit, resources for teachers, and more.


Upcoming Events

  • Speaking of pollinators, check out this upcoming Beekeeping workshop with Hives for Humanity and the VPD Popatch garden to learn about bees, have a local honey tasting, and much more. This is a free workshop for all Indigenous youth ages 15-30!
  • Farm to School Learning Circles offer a space where teachers, administration, parents and program coordinators can engage in facilitated discussions and activities about food and gardening, while gaining knowledge, confidence and new ideas for growing and sustaining their Farm to School activities. Regular learning circles are offered for schools in the Grandview-Woodland and Little Mountain Riley Park neighbourhoods.
Teachers from Grandview Woodland schools learned how to make pea trellises for their school gardens this winter (Photo: F2SVA Hub).
  • Save the date! The Farm to School Vancouver Hub’s Spring Celebration is taking place on Monday May 14 from 4-8PM at the Britannia Carving Pavilion (1001 Cotton Dr, Vancouver). Join us for an evening of workshops, good food, networking, prizes, plant give-aways from Environmental Youth Alliance’s Native Plant Nursery Program, as well as our first annual Farm to School BC Pollinator Award ceremony!
Pollinators at work! (Photo: West Coast Seeds)


Farm to School BC

The F2SBC Pollinator Awards recognize Farm to School programs and school teams who act as pollinators within their community: These F2S teams buzz around their garden, kitchen and/or classroom to build healthy food systems. They transfer and share knowledge, fostering thriving learning environments. Team members support the development of young healthy “seeds”, who will grow up to one day offer the fruits of their labour back to the environment and community.

Do you know a F2S team or program that pollinates good food environments in schools? Do you want to celebrate their efforts and successes? If so, you can nominate a F2S team here!

For details about upcoming learning circles, the spring celebration, and other events, visit our F2SVA Calendar and subscribe our F2SVA Listserv for regular updates.

Animator Reflection

Like pollinators, Farm to School programs grow more than just good food; they grow healthy environments for both human and non-human communities. The more I engage with Farm to School programs across the region, the more I am inspired by the breadth of their activities and scope of their impacts. From building habitats for urban wildlife, to understanding the importance of a good compost pile, these programs connect students not just to the food they’re eating, but to the land and community that are integral to our food systems. I look forward to watching the F2S network continue to grow, share, and inspire new activities, and am very excited to celebrate all of these amazing programs at our upcoming Spring Celebration. Until then, sow seeds and be merry!