Here at Parkway Elementary we are proud of our students, teachers, parents and community. Everyone has pulled together to make our garden a success. Students have learned about plant life cycles, how to plant seeds, transplant them to the garden and how to care for them.
With the advice of Ryan Foster, Food Foresters of Canada, and Dylan Neilson-Schenk, Family Tree Aboriculture, we planned the garden site and planted the first edible trees and shrubs on Earth Day. We have a number of teachers who helped in the garden and many parents. All 250 students at Parkway planted a seedling in the garden with the help of volunteers from Superstore and Family Tree. Our community businesses have generously donated over $3500 in cash, gift cards and product.
As we have been working in our garden, neighbours have stopped by to chat, congratulate the children and offer to help. People around Penticton are talking about Parkway’s fabulous garden project!!
We have had a number of challenges with permission, location, irrigation, fencing, soil and even a teacher’s strike. As with any school, we have worked with the school district staff to ensure that our vision met with school district requirements. We met with SD67’s Head of Maintenance many times to discuss multiple-use grounds, location, irrigation, fire safety, fencing and even decommissioning of the garden in the event that it is not taken care of over time.
We were delayed starting our garden as the upgraded irrigation system was not completed on time. The planting of our trees and shrubs had to be postponed from the Fall of 2015 to the Spring of 2016. We were further delayed due to a problem with garden soil. A company had agreed to donate garden soil to our project but backed out the afternoon before our volunteer day to break ground. This set us back another week as we looked for new sources of garden soil and set up a new day for our volunteers and students to begin work in the garden.
Another challenge was with the upgraded irrigation as it was now reclaimed water which we could not use on the garden. The irrigation had to be tapped and diverted to keep the grey water away from our edibles. We have purchased the first of a number of rain barrels which we will fill up with clean water and then hand water our garden.
Farm to School Making a Difference
The Farm to School grant has brought staff, students and community members together with a common goal of creating a space for Parkway students and neighbours to engage in the (almost) lost art of gardening. It has fostered a dialogue on healthy eating and providing for yourself as well as caring for our earth.
Neighbours who previously walked by without a glance now stop by and encourage children in their endeavors and offer to come and work with them. Students are excited and talking to each other about the seedlings they have planted and are watching for their growth.
We have yet to harvest and consume anything but teachers are talking about the large variety of fruits and vegetables planted and are planning how to prepare the produce. We are excited to use the dehydrator, blender and slow cooker, purchased with the Farm to School grant, to make fresh wholesome food from our own garden!