Garden Classrooms, Academic Classrooms
Grade Level/Age Group:
Kindergarten, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Middle School, High School, College/University
Number of Individuals Program Serves:
About the Program:
On June 27 2012, “Project Pickle” was launched when two hundred elementary school students at Pebble Hill Traditional School in Tsawwassen BC planted 200 pickling cucumbers in 5 raised garden beds provided by the Delta School District and maintained by the Backyard Cooperative.
Pickling cucumbers were chosen so that the students would be shown that there are some complexities to very common foods beyond planting, watering and harvesting. In the case of the beloved pickle, students participating in the project learned that growing food takes care. They have also learned that making pickles involves elements of science in processing and a degree of creativity in packaging, marketing and branding.
Growing food on school grounds is not a new idea. The challenge has always been to maintain the crop during the summer in preparation for harvest. This is ironic in the sense that “summer holidays” were created to allow kids get back to the farm to help with harvest.
The Delta School District solved this dilemma by working with the Backyard Cooperative, a business that has been created to teach people how to Grow, Share and Trade food in their neighbourhoods.
The Backyard Cooperative hired high school students over the summer to maintain the crops. In late August the harvest was complete with 35 dozen cucumbers taken from the 200 plants.
These students have begun to process the product and will be going back to the elementary school in the coming weeks to teach the children how to pickle and why it is necessary.
Another aspect of the project is to touch on jobs in the food economy. The Delta School District wishes to show students in K-!2 that there are many career opportunities available throughout the food supply chain.
The Delta School District wants to highlight the opportunities for future farmers, chefs, restaurant owners, processors and marketers and they want to do this by surrounding school age children with horticulture and agriculture in the schoolyard and in the backyard.
“Hort in the Hood”
As the program expands this year, each school community and neighbourhood will be encouraged to get involved. There has always been a concern about the potential for vandalism with these types of initiatives. In the case of Pebble Hill; this summer there were no acts of vandalism partly because the parents were made aware of the project and dog walking patterns and the like helped the school community to take pride in the undertaking.
There is a draft Horticulture Unit study in the works for the district and it is hoped that many schools in the district will participate in the 2013 version of Project Pickle which will be featured in the lead up to the Jamie Oliver Foundation’s “Food Revolution Day” on May 19 2013.
Last fall participating schools harvested and packaged spinach, beets and lettuce which were sold on school grounds to neighbourhhod parents raising money for school needs.
At the end of the harvest unsold food was donated to the South Delta Food bank and this year food banks in Delta will receive a portion of our harvest on a regular basis.
In the coming weeks we will continue to get the kids active by building their school neighbourhood farms and soon we will be constructing a hoop house at Boundary Bay elementary where our seed preparation will take place.
Peer mentoring is a big part of Project Pickle and in October of this year, high school students came back to Pebble Hill to teach and Mentor grade 7 student leaders who in turn taught the younger grades how to pickle.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Sustainable Agriculture program is partnering with the Delta School District to provide agriculture and food system study units for K-12. Kwantlen Sustainable Agriculture students, as part of their internship will come to Delta to share their knowledge with our students ensuring that the peer mentoring model grows.
Project Pickle learners have built 25 raised garden beds. Everyone gets involved. Hauling lumber and soil have proved to be tons of fun for the kids. Any school in Delta is welcome to participate in Project Pickle to benefit from all it entails. You can check out some of the fun at www.bycoop.ca
The Delta School District is supportive of a regional food strategy and is taking the lead in this regard in British Columbia. The good news is that they won’t have to do it alone.
A committee will be struck in the coming weeks to ensure that the Corporation of Delta and the Delta School District and its partners work together to keep food, farming and horticulture front of mind for future Deltans.
Where we live, this just makes sense.
For more information please contact Mike Schneider