21 March 2011

SPEC Helps Queen Elizabeth Elementary Plant School Orchard

Queen Elizabeth elementary school now has a beautiful Orchard Garden! The orchard complements the vegetable garden that SPEC helped the school build and plant last year.

Almost 300 students from kindergarten to grade 7 rolled up their sleeves to create this orchard. The students were so excited about the project that in addition to participating during class time, many of them would come roaring out to the orchard during recess and lunch to see how they could help, even though they were met with rain, hail, sleet and snow! Grade 7 students volunteered to wheelbarrow more than 15 cubic yards of topsoil and 15 cubic yards of bark mulch – that’s a lot of wheelbarrows! There was also a Saturday work-party during which parents, staff and students scavenged logs from the beach which they sawed, hauled into pick-up trucks and brought to the garden to use for raised beds.

All this hard (but fun!) work translates into 7 fruit trees (5 apples, 2 plums), 25 ever-bearing strawberry plants, 20 fruit bushes (including blueberries and raspberries), 2 grape vines and one kiwi vine. It is a beautiful space with decorative driftwood pieces and bark mulch paths that students can explore to watch spring transform the garden, and learn about the beauty of growing and harvesting their own food.

The orchard was truly a community effort. In addition to students, parents and staff from Queen Elizabeth (including star teacher Natasha Tousaw!), participants included supportive VSB Grounds staff who helped dig the holes for the fruit trees, enthusiastic students from nearby Jules Quesnel elementary, and of course our amazing Catriona Gordon, SPEC’s school gardens coordinator. The garden was generously funded with a grant from Evergreen Foundation, as well as donations in-kind from SB Treeworks and Arts Nursery.

If you’re in the neighbourhood, please drop by and have a look at this beautiful new orchard!