The Wickaninnish Community School gardening program is an initiative to teach children and youth about growing their own food and living in a more sustainable manner. Gardening programs through elementary schools have been shown to provide many benefits to youth: they may improve academic achievement, connect kids with the ecology around them, increase food literacy, provide an understanding of ecology and the importance of stewardship, and encourage community and social development.
We hold two After School Garden Clubs on a weekly basis for grades K-3 and grades 4-7. With the help of community volunteers, our staff teach kids the entire process of taking care of a garden, from starting plants from seed indoors, to transplanting, watering, weeding and harvesting. We also incorporate complementary projects by partnering with community organizations like Surfrider and Ultramarine Art. Our Garden Coordinator is mentoring students in leading a school-wide composting program and we are partnering with the grade 3 class to create a pilot microgreens program.
Our Noon Hour Garden Club is during outside recess time on Mondays and Thursdays. Sign up isn’t required - any kids that are interested in gardening can come by and help out with whatever the Garden Coordinator has planned to tend to the garden that day. Several students come back week after week and we always have new, curious students dropping in to check it out.
Every week, we harvest produce to bring to the School Lunch Program. Chef Ron gets creative with ways to incorporate the harvest into his cooking. He has made muffins with rhubarb and scones with arugula. However, many of the kids sample the food right in the garden! This is where they are introduced to some foods that they may not try on their plate - they can’t resist when they’ve helped to grow it.
We also teach food preservation using the abundance of fruit that is starting to grow in our newly planted food forest, including west coast berries such as blackberries, huckleberries and salal.
The garden provides a permanent spot and excellent platform to teach, learn and participate in organic, sustainable food production year-round. As a place of learning, activity and fun, the garden gets students excited about food and nutrition and fosters environmental stewardship outside of the classroom. The garden is an excellent means for teachers, parents and community members to generate discussions, projects, art, and outreach with the kids on how their food-growing relates to local, regional and global environmental issues. Learning how to grow, care for and harvest food is an essential activity that brings together diverse members of our communities. Our staff work with volunteers to deliver the school garden program, providing opportunities for community members of all ages to teach and learn from our next generation of growers.
"I love the school garden. It's awesome to see the kids nurture and care for the plants, grow the food and then bring it to me to cook. It gives them a real hands on connection of where it comes from and what it takes to make food." - Chef Ron Weeks
We'd like to acknowledge and thank those who have made the continuous growth of our school garden possible!
Gardens on the Go
Gibson Bros Contractors Ltd.
Green Soul Organics
OCN Garden Centre
Pacific Surf School
Reg's Root Landscaping
Slack Tide Inn
Stick in the Mud Landscaping
Storm Light Outfitters
Tofino Urban Farm Co.