Come rain or shine, a group of students at Cassie Hall Elementary School are out almost every day tending to the plants in their precious garden – a good mix of strawberries, peas, potatoes, garlic, parsley and other herbs.
Under the watchful eyes of their teachers – Nancy Jay and Denise Tupman– the children learn about growing and caring for plants as well as the soil, insects and water cycle among other elements.
A couple weeks ago, the rhubarb from the garden was used in pies served at the school. The vegetables harvested from the garden are also used for the lunch program at the school to make soups and stews.
On other occasions, potatoes from the ground makes their way to dinner tables at the students’ homes.
Community members are also welcome to come share in the bounty.
“But don’t take them all, leave some for us too,” says a young 10-year-old gardener from Grade 4.
Last week the students gave The Terrace Standard a tour of their garden, explaining their planting and harvesting routine and also the composting techniques they have incorporated for this project.
The Cassie Hall garden or the ‘sanctuary’ as it is often termed, is a joint effort between the staff and students at the K-6 elementary school.
And since its inception students and staff have planted and harvested many vegetables from the garden – including potatoes, beans, beets, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, onions, snap peas, parsley, oregano, lettuce, nasturtiums, and a few squash.
“We started the garden project in May 2018 having the older students in the school help to build a fence in the area that we planned to put our raised beds that we had built the year before,” said teacher Nancy Jay.
By the end of June 2019, they had a fenced area that enclosed six large raised beds. The garden currently has 10 raised beds, along with fruit trees and berry bushes.
With a recent grant of $3,100 from Farm To School, the garden project was able to install a lockable water hydrant and gate along with fencing. West Coast Seeds and Farm To School donated seeds. Local businesses also came forward to support the project – Aqua Heating and Plumbing installed the water hydrant for the garden.
“Having a direct water source allows us to easily water the garden. It was heart-warming to find out that several owners of Aqua Heating and Plumbing attended Cassie Hall Elementary School in the past,” said Jay
Families also came forward and volunteered to help the garden project. “We were fortunate to have the Braam family build a lockable gate for the garden this year,” said Jay.
The school garden has many educational benefits for the children, say the teachers, especially since it helps them connect with the land, and encourages learning. It also increases a respect for school property and promotes physical exercise and healthy eating habits.