Notes from the Strathcona School Garden Support Webinar

In April I attended an excellent webinar that was hosted by the Strathcona Food  Action Committee.  Below are my notes.  ~please let me know if you have questions or if something doesn’t make sense ~ Leslie

School Garden Webinar – Strathcona Food Security Project                    April 6, 2016

Presenter #1:  Elaine Codling, School Garden Coordinator, Lake Trail Neighbourhood Connections

  • This garden is in its 7th year (near Courtney)
  • The garden motto is “Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share”

Tips/Knowledge Sharing

  • People are the limiting factors of the school garden
  1. Human resources are a key element ~ sharing of information and communication is especially important between administration, teachers, staff, students, parents, and the wider community – share your garden goals widely
  • Bring the PAC on board in the early days, they will help increase the stability of your garden and can help build your vibrant outdoor learning space
  • Be sure to choose a site that has easy access to both water and sunlight. Also think about access for wheelbarrows, trucks delivering soils. Ask what you will do with the weeds, and plants that are pulled ~ composters? Easy access to a side door to the school that is near a sink, washroom, and handwashing staition is also good this way dirt won’t be as likely to be tracked through the school – is there an outdoor entrance into the room where food will be washed and prepared?  Where will you store the food?  Where will you store your tools?
  • Find ways to minimize weed pressure. This is important because the school year does not match the garden year.  Mulch is a good way to keep the weed pressure down. Another tip is to leave plants in the ground until you need the space for something new.
  • Plan at least 4 feet between the beds – this will help access to the garden especially when large classes want to visit. Plan for space all the way around the beds so that people don’t need to walk through or step in the beds to access the center.
  • Grow tall plants on the north side of the garden. Use the space shaded by the tall plants to grow shade tolerant plants
  • Keep the garden producing plan crops for an early, late, and mid-season harvest. Themes for harvest is fun and educational ~ Plant salad mixes in May if June is “salad month”
  • Plant self-storing crops for future use (squash, pumpkins)
  • Make a plan for the summer months – allow a local family to adopt the garden, put it to rest, or plant it with pumpkins and squash – don’t leave the dirt bare as the weeds will take over.
  • In September plant bok-choi, lettuce, and Asian greens.



Presenter #2 Arzeena Hamir – Amara Farms near Courtenay

  • Before moving to Vancouver Island Arzeena worked with the Richmond Food Security Society.
  • She helped develop a garden at her daughters school

Tips/Knowledge Sharing

  • Find a space that has great access – this garden started at the front of the school using one of the abandoned flower beds
  • Here is a link to a School Year Garden Toolkit
  • Grow foods that tell a story , for example grow Asian Vegetables like bokchoy link it the curriculum and tell the history behind these vegetables
  • Grow vegetables that have less days to harvest for peas choose snap or snow peas and dwarf versus climbing.  Radishes take 30 days from seed to plate. Nugget potatoes, Baby carrots – direct seed these every two weeks.
  • Grow perennial vegetables like strawberries, asparagus, arugula, rhubarb, herbs, and French sorrel.
  • Fundraising ideas – garlic, seed potatoes, strawberry plants
  • Use sterilized steer manure

Presenter #3 Jeremy Kirouac – Good Food Project, based on Quadra Island, but deliveries go from Nanaimo to Courtney.  There are a number of great resources on the website.

  • Focus of this project is how to make it easier for families to grow and eat healthy food
  • Right plant to start at the right time





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