Lucas Roos can’t quite remember how old he was when he first spied a nasturtium in his family’s garden, picked it, then chomped away on the colourful orange flower.
He’s been eating them ever since and can’t wait until the edible plants can be harvested from the new garden on the grounds of Shoreline Community middle school.
“I eat them plain,” says Lucas, 11, who just finished Grade 6.
Students patiently wait for principal Kim Strom to say a few words and elders from the Songhees Nation to bless the garden before filing down to the cafeteria for an end-of-school enchilada lunch with, you guessed it, a salad bar.
Asked what he thinks of the garden idea, Lucas looks over at the collection of young apple trees, raised beds stocked with vegetable, herb and fruit seedlings, and hanging garden pockets stuffed with nasturtium and strawberry plants. “I think it’s great.”
Three days a week during the summer, he’ll ride his bike or scooter down the hill from his home in View Royal, unlock the gate to the chain-link-fenced enclosure, and fill up his watering can with the onsite rain barrels to water the plants.
That participation is a continuation of the direct student involvement in this project, says Grade 6 teacher Cam Thurbide.
“There were 40 kids involved in this from startup to building the boxes,” he says. “They moved about seven yards of soil and moved all the wood chips in here. They’ve probably done about 90 per cent of the work.”
Strom says the garden idea grew out of the school’s three times a week soup and salad bar program (see Shoreline Food Revolution on Facebook). The school had applied for and received a Salad Bar Equipment Grant from the Public Health Association of B.C., to facilitate serving farm-fresh produce to students.
“That started us thinking ‘maybe we could grow our own fruits and vegetables,’” she says.
To help further advance the garden and promote getting back to the earth, Songhees Nation donated three Salish variety apple trees to the school – 27 per cent of the school’s student population.
The inside dirt
Donated materials for the garden at Shoreline Community Middle School:
• Wood for constructing the beds – Slegg Lumber Admirals
• Soil for the beds – McNutt Enterprises
• Wood chips for the garden floor – Bartlett Tree Service