School Projects

School Garden Update by Brahmi Benner

As the new coordinator of the School Garden, I am excited to inherit such an inspired project. It is a privilege to learn about the garden’s creation and the tasty activities begun by Janice Oakley. It has been beautifully stewarded by Colleen Doty and Janna Feldman since. Alison Colwell has created delicious memories for our elementary kids. School enthusiasm for gardening has been well cultivated.

I am an Early Childhood Educator and I also look at the garden with this lens. Young children can learn through instruction but they need open-ended exploration. We’ll take a playful approach to soil, compost, and weeding. Robust edibles like mint and lemon balm can be tasted often without damage. These easy-to-interact-with elements help build motivation for the growing that requires more method and patience.

Greenhouse Coordinator Barry New helps us make the most of our soil and composting systems. Our spring seed starts are warm in the greenhouse and the Community Greenhouse group members have donated starts to the school garden. I hope to engage members of the Seniors’ Garden to share their knowledge and lifelong passion for growing with the children.

Another passion of mine is democratic and “emergent” education, which starts where the children’s interests already lie. Giving them a voice in the selection of the food creates an empowering and engaging environment. I’ve made planting lists with the K-2 class and will meet with the older grades. There are teachable moments in this conversation. When a six-year-old asks to grow bananas, we can discuss how climate affects our plants. The kids have also requested that we bring back the Pizza Garden, a round bed used to grow pizza toppings.

A garden is a safe place for children to practice working with real tools, such as hand tools that offer challenge and build skills. We are envisioning some fun structures for the kids to play in. Kids are drawn in by change and novelty, so we’re looking for volunteers to help us create bean houses; lightweight wooden structures that will grow walls of beans and other creeping vines. Giving our iconic scarecrow a makeover will be a fun textile activity. Festivals like Mini-Nettlefest and Applefest celebrate seasonal harvest and create meaningful connection.

The School Garden of 2018 will be a mix of great Galiano traditions and creative new ideas. We hope to see volunteers of all ages join us. Our next all-ages work party will be held on Saturday, May 12 at 1pm. Join us for snacks and coffee as we focus on soil, weeds and pruning.

2018-04-26T21:14:58+00:00April 26th, 2018|Categories: Food Program, School Projects|0 Comments

Our BeeCause Bees, by Colleen Doty

That March morning the school library was warm and smelled of cedar, beeswax. Weeks of anticipation–“When will they arrive?”–culminated. As two students and I approach the covered case, one student hyperventilates. “It’s ok,” I say. “The bees are behind glass.” We speak in hushed tones, overcome by rhythmic buzzing. I lift the cloth cover and we three exhale: ten-thousand pairs of wings shimmer on striped bodies.

In collaboration with Galiano Community School Principal Shannon Johnston, staff, teachers, and local beekeeper Brad Lockett, the Food Program received a grant from BeeCause.org and Whole Kids Foundation for an observation honeybee hive. The goal of BeeCause.org is to raise a generation of kids who love bees and respect the role they play in our ecosystem and food chain. BeeCause hopes to install 1000 hives in schools. Our school was the first and only, so far, in Canada to receive such an observation hive. To date, 174 other schools in the US, Haiti and the Bahamas have received hives.

Our school has embraced the bees. Now that the kids have experienced how gentle the bees are the initial fear has evaporated. Together, everyone’s been learning. “A bee only makes 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its entire life,” states Sophia. Dylan notes: “To make honey, bees regurgitate nectar from one of their stomachs…” The bees pass nectar from bee to bee until the desired consistency and water content are reached. The flavour of honey reflects the local pollinated flora.

“Our” bees access the outdoors through a tube drilled through the school wall. From outside, the hole sits three and half metres from the ground and looks like a bird house. A bee exits the tube and flies across the playground carrying another bee. “She’s removing the dead,” says Claire. “The girl bees do all the work!” exclaims Shekayah with a hint of indignation. It’s recess and the playground is filled with a cacophony only children can make: running, watching Leo the Lizard in the sand box. Meanwhile, honey bees fly overhead, an image of how things should be; all right in the world.

“Maybe we should check on the bees today,” suggests Finn. He means from inside the school library, to observe them through the case. I explain that we’re going to leave the bees quiet and dark to allow the queen to build up her brood. For now, we’ll watch them outside in the school garden, enjoying the blue flowers of borage, the asparagus that’s been allowed to bloom and the raspberry flowers that are appearing. The pear tree, we notice, has a particularly good fruit set this year. We have thousands of new friends to thank for this.

2018-05-31T21:26:17+00:00May 31st, 2016|Categories: Food Program, School Projects|0 Comments

The Chemistry of Bigleaf Maples By Colleen Doty, School Food Program Coordinator

December was ushered in with the Great Bigleaf Rake-Up at the school garden. With maple leaves buried under a dusting of crunchy snow, blue sky above, Galiano School kids gathered around two large maple trees on the school property to learn about densely rich maple leaves and the value they bring to other plants when composted. The kids were divided into four teams: Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and Nitrogen, and each team learned some interesting facts about these four elements that figure prominently in maple leaves. What also became quickly apparent was how humans and plants require the same nutrients in order to thrive! For example, blossom End Rot in tomatoes and osteoporosis in humans are both related to calcium deficiency. In another example, magnesium is required by plants to process and use amino acids, vitamins, and proteins, and similarly for humans, magnesium is used to process other elements, notably calcium and potassium. Whereas magnesium deficiency will result in yellow, veiny leaves in plants, a deficiency in humans will impact the functioning of muscles and organs.

The teams then gathered up fallen leaves and laid them around garden beds and the fruit trees in the school garden. Our garlic, kale, chard, and fruit trees were tucked in with several layers of rich maple leaves.

In our fragile Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem, bigleaf maples can be seen as competitors to slower growing species such as the hemlock, Douglas fir, grand fir, and sitka spruce (Thomas, K.D., 1999; Haeussler S. et al 1990). Bigleaf maples have a large canopy that blocks light to trees below; their heavy litterfall can smother slower-growing saplings; maples have a shallow and wide-spreading root system that likely has a competitive advantage in shallow soils. However, bigleaf maples can play a significant role in nutrient cycling (Turk, 2003). As the leaves decompose, elements inside the leaves make nutrients available for biological growth. The forest floor around bigleaf maples is significantly high in available nutrients, most notably nitrogen, potassium, calcium and magnesium, and contains higher levels of most nutrients than conifer litterfall. Another bonus for the garden is that maple leaves decompose and lose their mass relatively quickly, thus rapidly cycling nutrients.

Bigleaf maples also play an important role in enhancing biodiversity by hosting a large number of epiphytes. An epiphyte is a plant that grows non-parasitically upon another plant, and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain and sometimes debris from other organisms. Ferns, lichens, and mosses are examples of epiphytes. Maples are very popular hosts!

As we arranged the leaves over the beds and stood back to admire the russet hues against the snow, my mind jumped ahead to spring. It won’t be long before we’ll be drizzling syrup over Maple Blossom Fritters.

2018-05-31T20:06:59+00:00March 25th, 2015|Categories: Food Program, School Projects|0 Comments

Applefest – October 22nd, from 1-3pm

In the words of one student: “Applefest is the best day EVER!” This year’s fun-filled, educational event will be held Wednesday, October 22nd, from 1-3pm at the Galiano Community School.

We are looking for donations of apple varieties for tastings. If you can spare a few apples for some tastings, or are able to volunteer your time to help us set up and run the activity stations, please contact Colleen at galianofoodprograms@gmail.com.

Thank you and we hope you can help support this special event for the kids.

2018-05-30T20:45:42+00:00October 30th, 2014|Categories: Food Program, School Projects|0 Comments

Cooking with kids -Alison Colwell

I thought I’d use this article to talk about some of the ways to get kids cooking. Kids that learn how to cook, are much more likely to try new foods and be less picky eaters when they’ve made the food themselves. I’m lucky enough to get to cook with the kids at the school on a regular basis – and I have two kids of my own, who also have lots of friends, that like to play in the kitchen – so whether you’ve got your own kids home for the summer, or grand kids visiting – here are some ideas.

I have a few basic kitchen rules – wash your hands (can’t repeat this one enough) and when you are cooking with younger kids it also means no wearing bowls on heads and no licking measuring spoons (I’ve seen it all!) – while you are cooking – once you are done bowl helmets are just fine. I also try to keep long hair up – off the shoulders – use a hair band, or bandana.

Get the kids involved in planning? Ask them what they’d like to make. When I’ve done this with small groups at the school, the answers have ranged from crepes to burgers, pizza to apple pie. I have yet to meet a kid with nothing they wanted to learn how to cook. So start there.

What I do have kids say, is “I couldn’t do that”. But they can. I teach 5 year olds how to bake bread. They can do it – with help and support, but measuring, mixing, are all things they do in play – this is just doing it for real. When cooking with kids it helps to have all the ingredients you are going to need out on the counter before you begin, plus the measuring cups and spoons and any other equipment you will need.

There are lots of recipe books designed for kids, or find a simple recipe online – print it out so that you can read through it together. When cooking, start at the beginning at go through slowly, step at a time. And sometimes you don’t need a recipe. One of my kids likes to “create” their own recipes. When the twins were four they learned how to melt chocolate chips in the microwave. Then they tried adding all kinds of things until they hit upon pecans – and “invented” chocolate covered nuts!

Nothing beats the satisfaction of being able to bring your own food to the table, or your own plate of brownies to guests.

2018-05-30T20:23:31+00:00June 30th, 2014|Categories: Food Program, School Projects|0 Comments

What’s Shakin’ and Growin’ at the School by Janice Oakley

Call me an optimistic aquarian because despite the headlines of environmental catastrophe and political doom I still see our way forward as a path well lit on the darkest night. If we travel along it in connection to each other and to the earth and all it’s variety of life we cannot go wrong. To truly love and take care of our planet it seems that taking care of ourselves is of utter importance also. Making sure we eat well and nurture our bodies in the way that is best for each of us. Now that I am on the fun side of 50 watching the upcoming generations and what challenges they may be facing I am moved more than ever to support them in healthy positive directions.

One of the ways the Food Program can do this is to commit to the school garden, community greenhouse and the healthy growing, cooking and eating projects that go on there. Staff and students are eager with any of the ideas we have shown up with over the years from Applefest and grafting to WORMFEST and composting…. One of the more involved activities we did together was a game where we uncovered the REAL cost of food taking in to account environmental costs through pesticide use, quality of life for workers and livestock as well. It was a real adventure in understanding the relationships between what we eat and how it is produced. Now that the school has beehives, the Pollination Game is a big favorite where kids get to be bees, trees or rain !

The tastings that we do on site from March through till Nov involve anything and everything they have grown. Have you ever seen school-aged kids elbowing their way to the front to get some sauteed turnip greens, or raw sprouting broccoli, broad beans and brussel sprouts that they just picked to share? Of course the maple blossom fritters and the strawberries (frozen from the previous year) were understandable favorites.

As the space and appetite for projects has grown, what really is needed is a time commitment from community members of an hour or 2 per week during the spring and fall seasons to ensure that the garden is well tended. Parents on Galiano are at their busiest time in their lives as they raise children and hold down several jobs as prices of housing and food all contribute to crunched schedules…. at afterschool softball practice there have been some willing and strong hands to get some spring projects like the PIZZA GARDEN planned and dug. The greenhouse group is passing on all kinds of starts to the kids and the children themselves have seeded many types of peas and cucumbers.

This gets me to our offer: I would like to invite people to become ‘Friends of the School Garden’ by pledging your support of just 5 hours to the school garden over the 6 months of April to October….. At the end of this there will be a most lovely surprise just for you ! Email or call in your intention of support. Work parties happen 2-3 times per week and are short. Right now Tuesdays from 3: till 5: are the best bet but also 3: on Thursdays is a good time to show up. Looking forward to working with you in our healthy, active, fun and tasty future projects.

2018-05-10T15:09:41+00:00May 10th, 2012|Categories: Food Program, School Projects|0 Comments

Red Wriggler Day at School

On April 5th, The Food Program will be helping the children at the Galiano Community School bring together all that Red Wiggler Worms love to eat and sleep on.

Singing the song ‘We Have a Worm Farm’ will help them to remember that ‘they don’t like dairy and they won’t eat meat’….. Lovely bin donated by Heather will let kids peak in to check on the health of the critters as well as size up the castings for the garden to feed plants.

Bringing it full circle will be garlic toast made with the garlic they grew last year. Keeping it real with worm poo.

2018-05-10T13:51:41+00:00March 10th, 2012|Categories: Food Program, School Projects|0 Comments

Applefest

Applefest Returns!!

We will be celebrating Apples at the 3rd annual Applefest at the Galiano school on the afternoon of Thursday October 13th from 12:30-3:15.

During the afternoon, we will be juicing local apples with the kids, playing apple related games, hosting an apple tasting, and the teachers will be leading the kids in apple poetry, and an apple art project.

We need a few volunteers to help with the various stations, and to help the kids move smoothly between them. If you can help, call Alison.

2018-05-04T16:15:22+00:00October 4th, 2011|Categories: Food Program, School Projects|0 Comments

Seniors Soup Garden & Fruit Tree Project

Part of this project was completed with the expanded garden at the school and the raised beds built this past summer by Leo Engelmann and Richard Nathans. New fencing and a new gate was put up by Patrick Sherry and Leo. The vegetables being grown in the raised beds will be used for the Soup for Seniors’ initiative. Another part of this project involves elders working with the school children to identify and inventory the fruit trees and orchards on the island. The kids will be involved in mapping the locations of orchards, helping to identify trees, investigating the history and culture of fruit trees on Galiano. In the Spring we will use this information to do some grafting workshops and ensure that the magnificent fruit trees on the island are “re-born”.

This project is being funded by the United Way of Greater Victoria.

2018-05-04T15:45:11+00:00September 4th, 2011|Categories: Food Program, School Projects|0 Comments
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