As we approach the end of the school year, we see the gardens start coming alive with food to be enjoyed by students. While the school year works well if you live on a farm, most of us do not, and sometimes it feels strange to be leaving the school gardens just when they start producing.
School gardens are a place of education and creativity, which allows us to be a bit more flexible when it comes to growing. If plants do not get watered and are forgotten, during the summer, we can harvest their seeds come the fall. We can even turn them into an art project! There is some freedom in school gardens when focus is not on production, and schools here in Kamloops are learning more about seed saving and seed sovereignty (check out this article, and the work of Vandana Shiva to learn more).
Through a partnership with the Kamloops Food Policy Council (KFPC), schools have been able to access a seed winnower and thresher (check out the winnower at work below), and clean seed to plant in their gardens. The KFPC has officially started a seed library this year, we can share seeds in our community through library lending but with seeds! This allows us to save adapted seeds which grow well in Kamloops, turning this activity into a school lesson in genetics!
Northern Spring Celebrations
The Kamloops School District 73 is quite spread out, spanning from Logan Lake in the south-west, to Chase in the east and Clearwater in the north. For the last two years, the rural schools have been travelling into Kamloops for over an hour on the bus. We decided to visit them this year, and customize the Spring Celebration event to their needs.
We hosted our Spring Celebration here in Kamloops on April 17, Barriere on June 11, and Clearwater on June 13. The Kamloops schools connected with local farmers and looked into ways of buying more local food, four Barriere classes got to learn about the food system through a series of hands-on stations, where they got to make smoothies, seed bombs, bug hotels, garden signs, and clean seeds with the winnowed. The Clearwater teachers had a learning circle and learned about many resources connecting the garden to the curriculum.
Farm to School BC at the Farmers’ Market: Arthur Hatton Elementary has now attended two markets, selling school-grown microgreens, planter boxes made by students, fresh cilantro from the school garden, and apple chips. The conversations at the market have been amazing, people are learning about the Farm to School BC program and have an opportunity to support students. The grade 5 students have great customer service skills, and are getting really good at their math skills!
SD73 Trustee Presentation: On May 7, Richard Han, Provincial Manager of Farm to School BC and I presented to the board of trustees on to share with them about all of the amazing programs that have been started in our district. We shared with them all the amazing success stories and how we look forward to working more with the trustees in the future!
Transition: Bonnie Klohn will be replacing Addie de Candole as the Community Animator here in Kamloops, so we have been visiting schools and introducing her to all of the teachers! She has been on the Advisory Committee for the last year, and works with the Kamloops Food Policy Council as well, so there will be a great partnership!
Over the last two years, I have learned a lot from the amazing teachers and students that I have worked with. Food to me is something that can bring people together, and I am reminded of that firsthand when I walk into a school and see students cooking together, or planting in their garden. You can find your place with food, from growing to eating, there is always some way to be involved.
As I move on from this position, I am fortunate to have had so many wonderful conversations with people across the province, and am excited to see where schools in Kamloops will go from here. I am returning to school to complete my teaching certificate, and cannot wait for the day when I can bring Farm to School BC program into my classroom.
Thank you again to all of the Kamloops teachers and students, other Community Animators Aaren and Sam, Richard the manager, and most of all the students for making the last two years some of the best.