A keen teacher, parent or student will get a schoolyard garden flourishing only to see it wilt when they move on. "This is not endemic everywhere, but it is something that has been reoccurring enough," said Ilana Labow, director of Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society.
She says teachers want to provide opportunities for hands-on learning in garden classrooms. "And because teachers are some of the holiest of holy people working on this planet, teachers, aside from having to design curriculum and teach curriculum to teach in an outdoor garden, then they have to steward and maintain the garden to keep it going, which is a whole other job," Labow said.
So she's pleased the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Foundation announced Feb. 7 a Greenest City Community Grant of $35,000 to establish market gardens at Vancouver Technical and David Thompson secondary schools.
Vancouver Foundation staff and a volunteer committee of experts in environmental and urban sustainability reviewed 61 grant applications and selected 17 recipients to receive a total of $391,5000 from the four-year $2-million fund.
New quarter-acre plots will be planted at the two East Side schools this spring. Fresh Roots will design the gardens to host classes, community gatherings and events.
Fresh Roots and volunteers, including students on spring break field trips, will spread soil over gravel at Van Tech the weekend of March 23 and 24. Dates for David Thompson are being worked out and Labow expects to post more information at freshrootsurbancsa.wordpress.com soon.
Fresh Roots and its interns, school students and after-school groups will tend the market gardens. The resulting organic produce, including greens, potatoes and other crops desired by the neighbourhood, will be sold to school cafeterias, through community shared agriculture programs and at neighbourhood stands at the schools, providing garden clubs and business students with practical experience. The earnings will flow to Fresh Roots so the society can keep the gardens flourishing over the long term.
Labow believes biology, art, drama, social studies, physical education and English teachers will feel inspired to hold classes in the gardens.
Windermere secondary received a $5,000 Greenest City Community Grant to expand its organic garden, partly to increase food production for the school's cafeteria and to create a community gathering space with benches and pathways.