This autumn 2021, ten K-6 classes harvested, dried, and popped our own purple popcorn; dug, washed, fried and loved eating our multi-coloured potatoes; made extraordinary pumpkin soup, herbed biscuits, and apple juice for a Halloween Harvest Festival, and so much more. I especially loved the edible flower and herb canapes designed by kids on crackers, tea in the greenhouse on a rainy day reading garden books and singing, warm applesauce, floral hand salve, and tending and learning about our Indigenous Blue Camas bed.
What challenges did or does your project face?
Covid continues to be a challenge for getting parent volunteers into the schools. It was great being outdoors in the sunshine with classes, and several local farmers and a couple parents were able to come help out. Because we weren't able to have work-parties last year, several areas of the garden have fallen into disrepair and will need attention this winter-spring.
How are you working to overcome them?
We need to better extend the invitation to help with students in the gardens now, and ask folks to sign up for regular times in the New Year. And, it's time to reconvene a garden committee and host regular work parties afterschool and on weekends in 2022!
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
We're really dialing in our annual rhythm of crops and harvest festivals. The three-sisters garden over the summertime really works well for autumn school harvests of popcorn, squash, beans and sunflowers. Our annual all-school Halloween Pumpkin Soup Lunch was a real hit! Then, we plant garlic, fava and camas in the fall, after building up the soil in our beds using lasagna gardening techniques. Early spring, we plant potatoes in burlap sacks (from the local coffee company), scatter kale seeds, nasturtium and calendula everywhere (if needed) and tuck in lettuce starts. We celebrate the end of the year in June with an all-school salad bar, then plant our summer crops with students right before they leave for summer holidays. Throughout, there are extra crafts, cooking of local foods, food forest nibbling and plantings, compost management, pollinator ecology, Indigenous studies, science and more.