Two classrooms began gardening in 2014. Good things grow and grow we did! This year we have five classrooms with 125 students enthusiastically pulling weeds, preparing beds with new soil, learning about bad bugs and good bugs, getting hands and clothes muddy during planting and selling starters at the community Spring Fair to raise money for the school hot lunch program.
Starting the program small helped us succeed, the garden was a success, people heard about it and in October we partnered with our local museum to create a Pioneer Day for our bi-monthly school hot lunch program – all items came from our the garden. Now that was creating history!
On an island, food sustainability is easy to understand. Some people love the idea of growing vegetables whose seeds come from Gabriola. It is labour intensive and requires patience and careful record keeping but at the end the gardener knows where the seeds came from, how they developed and if they were exposed to any chemicals or genetic modifications.
Cheryl and Guy are two such gardeners. Cheryl has been planting and keeping squash seeds for several years, and shared her heritage squash seeds with the Gabriola Elementary School gardeners.
Guy farms several vegetables from beans, beets, to squash and peas. Good soil is his passion. Creating good compost with a balance of nutrients is his speciality, so a visit to the PHC garden to talk about balance, worms and air was met by peels of laugher and screams as school children from grade 1-5 unearth worms and carried buckets of seasoned horse manure into the garden beds.
Students were captivated by a visit to the gardens a bug specialist who brought ladybugs for everyone.
Currently planting is underway, and with the warm sunny weather we expect that the crops will be early this year. While the elementary students are on vacation, a university student, hired under a Canada Works grant, will tend the garden during the summer, guaranteeing another good harvest.
Our current challenge is one of success; our explosive growth means even with volunteers in the garden our staff time exceeds the funds available. So now we are looking for a money tree!