At Grandview¿uuqinak’uuh Elementary School, we are in full swing with spring growth. This is the perfect time to look back at the seeds we’ve planted since the beginning of the year to get to this point where the students are harvesting, cooking, and connecting with the native plants growing.
We are fortunate to receive funding from Vancouver Coastal Health which allows for me to spend two days at the school teaching and cooking with the students. Every student at Grandview¿uuqinak’uuh Elementary School spends at least 30 minutes a week learning outdoors in the garden. Many more spend even more time helping out in the garden at recess!
I’ve been learning right alongside the students. In fall, we learned alongside the school’s Indigenous Education Enhancement Worker how to harvest and dry medicinal tobacco and sage leaves to share with our local community. We noticed how the seasons changed and that nothing is better than raking the biggest leaf pile and jumping in it (teachers included!) We learned that plants make seeds, which we can harvest and save for future years. We celebrated the harvest season by learning to cut apples with knives and making pumpkin granola bites.
In winter, we learned about the water cycle and that we can create creeks and lakes in our schoolyard. We learned what creatures live in the garden and how they store food for the winter. We reintroduced the beloved salad bar and cooked kale chips, delicate squash, and many salad dressings. We shared pride in cooking and sharing a meal together and found joy in trying new foods. We celebrated Lunar New Year by cooking dumplings and thinking about how other cultures ring in the new year.
And now, here we are in spring. We’ve planted our garden with old and new favourites. We’ve cared for our worms, making them many houses, and learned to conserve water. Right now, we’re in the midst of watching our strawberries get pollinated and begin to grow their new fruit. We’re learning about our local native plants by making medicinal teas. Soon, we will wrap up our school year with a month of harvesting for salads, spring rolls, and pesto which we will cook outside.
Spending time in the garden connects us with the land. Many students share that the garden is their favourite place at school. It’s the place they can get messy, make “candies” to share out of leaves and flowers, care for the plants and animals, and learn hands-on. We’re grateful for the opportunity, time and funding to fully give back, connect, enjoy and engage with the land.