Blog Posts Tagged: school garden

Bicycles and Beets: Eating local can be fun!

by Jen Brennan

I’m a big fan of cycling. Not competitively, but as both a mode of transportation and a way to tour around our beautiful province. The past two summers, my bike and I have seen some breathtaking scenery on Galiano Island, toured wine country in the Okanagan, got [a little too] close and personal with a family of black bears in Whistler, and most recently, snacked our way up the Pemberton Valley for last weekend’s Slow Food Cycle. For those who have never heard of this amazing event, the Pemberton Slow Food Cycle is a 50km scenic ride through the fertile farmlands of the Pemberton Valley. Every year on a Sunday afternoon in August, some 4,000 hungry bikers of all ages meander their way on two wheels, making frequent pit stops at the many farms along the route to sample local produce, organic fruit, homemade honey, and freshly baked bread. It’s a wonderful opportunity for families to get outside and get active in one of the most breathtaking places on earth. jen riding

As I progressed my way from potato farms to lemonade stands, I was particularly struck by how excited all the children were to be on their bikes and see what tasty goodies awaited them around the next corner. I couldn’t help but think what a wonderful opportunity an event such as this is for kids to learn about where their food comes from, why we need to protect our valuable farmlands, and what fun it can be to get some exercise at the same time! I truly believe in the cause of the Slow Food Cycle, which is to connect consumers with the farmers who grow our food. When we take the time to learn about the importance of our farmland, and how lucky we are to have so many local food choices within our reach, we start to appreciate how valuable and fragile our environment is. It’s wonderful to see the next generation taking part in that learning, and I hope to soon see a new ‘crop’ (pun intended) of young farmers carry on what may become the start of a positive new way of eating.bikes

***The Healthy Schools BC portal has great programs and resources for educators around the province who are interested in starting or enhancing agricultural learning at their school, such as a school garden. Educators, please click here to see some programs and resources available to you! 

School Gardens – they’re about more than just growing food!

by Rebecca Haber

When I’m not working at DASH, I spend a lot of time with vegetables – growing them, picking them, pickling them, cooking them, eating them, sharing them. This intimate relationship with vegetable growing and eating is relatively new to me – I joined a community garden three years ago with no previous gardening experience. Around the same time I started a relationship with a vegetable farmer. The result: the world of produce has expanded before my eyes.

Red Cabbage

I now eat fruits and vegetables that I had never heard of before. Do you know what a quince is? Nettles? Kohlrabi? Items I’d only seen on grocery store shelves, like brussel sprouts (bottom picture), cabbage (picture on right), artichokes, and hazelnuts (picture on left), I have now seen growing on plants in the garden. I liken my new perspective on vegetables to DASH’s comprehensive, holistic approach to school health. A vegetable is not just the end product that you eat – it’s the soil it grows in, the plant it grows on, the care and nutrients it is given, and of course the food it produces.

Hazelnuts on a TreeAnalogies aside, I love all that I have recently learned about gardening. The value of growing food extends not only to healthy eating, but also to a new perspective on our environment and food system. This is why I am so excited about the healthy eating, gardening, and agricultural programs and resources currently available to students and teachers in BC. DASH partners with a number of healthy eating organizations and initiatives to coordinate actions in BC schools. Check out the websites of Farm to School and the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program, two of our partners who work to connect students to local food production. Through the Healthy Schools Network, we’ve also seen student-led initiatives in growing and cooking food from their own school gardens. I hope students with these opportunities can experience the wonder of watching a tiny seed grow and think bigger about where their food comes from.

Brussel Sprouts Plant

It’s harvest season in BC. Have you spotted any new or exciting veggies or fruit at your local store, farm stand, or in your garden? Are there school gardening programs we should know about? Tell us about them.