Student Quotes: “I had fun planting lots of different kinds of things, like kale, garlic, and other things. I also liked tasting the plants. I like our school garden.”
“I like the school garden because you get to eat the vegetables when they are fully grown. We share every plant with the entire school.”
— Grade 3 Students: John Norquay Elementary School, May 2015
“I like the school garden because it has plants we can eat and we can grow more plants so our environment is green.”
“I like the school garden because I like to take care of plants and watch them grow.”
— Grade 4 Students: John Norquay Elementary School, May 2015
School Gardens Program connects children with their food, each other, nature, and their community, by integrating gardening and healthy food education into the regular classroom curriculum. We believe that school gardens inspire and empower the next generation to contribute to healthier and more sustainable communities.
Activities: Now in its eighth year, the program has expanded from 8 Vancouver schools to 11, reaching over 1600 students. During the 2014/15 school year, we delivered 272 garden, nutrition, composting, and other related lessons to 68 classrooms. In June 2015, six harvest parties were held at the schools to celebrate the bounty from their school gardens.
This year (2015) we also obtained funding to print and distribute copies of our garden curriculum package, called Green Thumbs at School: SPEC Food Garden Lesson Book, to our partnering schools. We hope this information will support teachers to deliver garden-related lessons to their classrooms directly. This curriculum is also accessible to the public through the SPEC website.
Teacher Quotes: “This is my second school year as part of the SPEC School Gardens Program. Nikoo has many fun and informative lessons that fit perfectly into our science curriculum. My students look forward to our garden activities because they can see firsthand what they have grown themselves. They can be proud to say that they were a part of building this exciting school community garden. Thank you all for this opportunity.”
—Cathy Walls, Teacher: Henry Hudson Elementary School
Additional Activities 2014/15: During the school year, a pre- and post- garden lesson survey was conducted in some of the classrooms to measure how much students learned and how much their attitudes towards healthy food had changed, as a result of our collaboration. The results showed that students, who obtain regular food and garden lessons throughout the year, have an improved understanding of food literacy, gardening, and healthy food, as well as improved attitudes towards healthy eating.
Community Partners: SPEC brings food and garden education to the following schools:
▪ Bayview Community School
▪ Britannia Secondary School (pilot in the 2015/16 school year)
▪ General Brock Elementary
▪ Henry Hudson Elementary School
▪ John Norquay Elementary (new in the 2014/15 school year)
▪ Kitsilano Secondary School
▪ L'Ecole Bilingue
▪ Simon Fraser Elementary
▪ Simon Fraser Elementary
▪ Queen Elizabeth Elementary
▪ Sir Wilfred Grenfell Community School
▪ Thunderbird Elementary
▪ Tillicum Community Annex (pilot in the 2015/16 school year)
Acknowledgement: Our program also helped school gardens to remain vibrant and growing through the summer months. Students from several school daycares helped to maintain the gardens and enjoyed the bounty from the harvest. Their achievements would not have been possible without the work of our summer intern, Emily Yungwirth.
Community Support: SPEC volunteers and staff are fortunate to work alongside an amazing community of school garden champions, including dedicated parents, support staff, teachers, and principals at our partnering schools; UBC’s Think and Eat Green @ Schools Program; the Vancouver School Food Network (VSFN); Vancouver School Board; Kiwassa Neighbourhood House; Redemption Church; Brock Junction After-School Care Program; Thunderbird After-School Care Program; and Hudson Out-Of-School Care.
Funding Support: We would like to thank these funders who supported our SPEC's School Garden Program:
- Acme Delivery Company
- BC Gaming Community Grant
- BC Hydro Community Champions Program
- Canada Summer Jobs Grant (Fed. Gov)
- Canadian Tire (Bentall St.)
- Gaia Green Products Ltd.
- Home Depot
- Lululemon Athletica
- Millard & Gow-Jarrett Family
- School parents
- SPEC individual donors
- TD Friends of the Environment Foundation
- UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems: Think & Eat Green @ School
- UBC Botanical Garden
- West Coast Seeds
- Whole Foods Market
- Whole Kids Foundation
Plans for 2015/16: SPEC has committed to continue the gardening program with the three newest schools, all identified as “high needs schools” in Vancouver. We are aiming at employing an additional teacher in order to have the capacity to respond to the growing demand for school gardens, particularly in high needs schools. We would like to respond to every classroom in every school that wants to bring food and garden education to their students. We require additional funding to support this new position and appreciate your help in doing that.
Parent Quote: “SPEC has gone above and beyond our expectations in assisting us with our food garden. Over the dry summer months, SPEC provided an intern to assist in watering and planting more seeds in our garden. SPEC also gave us a copy of their Food Garden Lesson Book, which is an excellent resource for teachers to use with their classes. We are very grateful to be one of the schools working with SPEC!”
— Valeria Kao, Parent: John Norquay Elementary School, Oct 2015