Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Edward Milne Community Garden Update

Memorial Mural to Pia Carroll, Slow Food member and Garden Champion

This year, the garden at Edward Milne Community School continues to flourish. Over 250 students, from Nature K to grade 12, helped grow produce for the school Culinary Arts and Foods programs, which in turn produce and serve 100's of meals per week. Produce is harvested year round from the 15 outdoor raised beds, greenhouse, and seasonally from the mini orchard and berry plots. They have a focus on unique heritage crop varieties and this season have dedicated two plots to Milpa or Three Sisters growing, featuring 10 Indigenous corn varieties, beans, and squash.  

They also connect with local farmers and other producers, including ALM farm, Full Circle Seeds, Cast Iron Farm, Silver Cloud Farm, Dakini Tidal Wilds Seaweeds, Alderbrook Grange and others. Students learn through contributing to the community and have volunteered well over 100 collective hours through projects at the Sun River Community Gardens and other sites. Class curriculum includes knowledge of local traditional First Nations foods, how to harvest and prepare ethnobotanical plants and wild seafoods, and how to cook over fires. Lessons also vary seasonally with apple pressing during the Summer, and visit the local salmon runs in the Fall, tap Big Leaf Maples in Winter, and harvest tea plants and seaweeds in Spring. 

This year, their Trades access program has built an outdoor learning space and they hope to add to their garden space in 2018/19 through consultation with the UVic Permaculture Program and local First Nations Knowledge Holders. Also in 2018/19, the school will be offering a Sustainability and Local Food Systems elective course to compliment our Environmental Studies and Marine Biology programs, as well as to help increase school garden use and production. 

Slow Food Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands is proud to be among the long list of supporters who have helped the garden grow, including the Whole Kids Foundation, Farm to Cafeteria Canada, the Food Rescue Project, Sooke Soil, Agriculture in the Classroom, and many others.  

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