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  • Writer's pictureHélène Descoteaux

Magic of the Winter Garden

Welcome to New Year 2024 at Wickaninnish Community School Garden Programs, where the anticipation of getting outside and feeling and feeding the soil with hot composted manure, snacking on arugula, romaine, spinach, celery and radishes from our greenhouse, worm treasure hunts with our magnifying glasses, winter sowing, and creating calendulas potions for our dry skin is on our agenda.

 As we reflect on the garden adventures of 2023, we take pride in highlighting some of the learning, community engagement, and delightful surprises that unfolded throughout the year.

We harnessed the nutritional value of kale through harvesting, dehydrating, and creating kale powder. We collected strawberries, potatoes, carrots, greens, and rhubarb which we were proud to donate to Chef Ron's lunch program.

 Winter sowing took centre stage as the Intergenerational Garden Club, Mr. Holt's Grade 2 class, and Ms. Aujla's Grade 4/5 class explored planting seeds in recycled milk jugs, bringing sustainable practices to life. We were thrilled with the success of carrots, arugula, romaine, cosmos, and radish.

Master Gardener Connie Kuramoto conducted enlightening workshops for the Intergenerational Garden Club, adding a touch of wisdom to our gardening endeavours on the how-to's of pruning our Food Forest. She also joined us at our Seedy Saturday teaching our community how to relocate an apple tree, symbolizing hope for its thriving future in a new spot. Thrive it did. We had three apples this year and a jewel of a garden with nasturtiums, onions, borage, cosmos, calendula, and volunteer pumpkins surrounding her.

Colin Stevens from Ucluelet AKA the Mushroom Man shared insights into mushroom poles, planting blue oyster mushrooms in our Food Forest, adding a dash of magic to our garden.

Our little greenhouse became a haven for seedlings, offering protection from winds, predators, and rain, as we carefully nurtured a variety of precious plants.

We delved into the world of mason bees, introducing new bee hotels and fostering an environment to attract these essential pollinators. AND we had three tubes used by new mason bees. So exciting!!

 Although there was a huge drought this past summer, our beans and sunflowers were survivors and thrived. We LOVE eating our beans right off the stem and seed saved for this coming spring planting.

The annual Harvest Celebration witnessed a successful first apple pie contest, showcasing the culinary talents of participants spanning multiple generations.

We searched for both earth and red wiggler worms this past autumn while amending our soil and created an indoor worm house which we studied each week.

 We added another After School Garden Program that was all about eating and creating food from our gardens. From eating honeycomb to brewing tea each week from the Food Forest.

Our Intergenerational Garden Program buddied up with Mister Holt's Grade 2/3 until June and then began a new journey with Miss Comtois Grade 4/5. The delight of the seniors and students connections and amazing work in the gardens are always a highlight of the week. We said so long to two of our Seniors this year, with promises that they will come play in the garden when they visit family.

We planted over 100 bulbs of garlic this autumn, we meaning our grade 1-4 well-seasoned After School Garden participants, with very little direction, they took bulb to soil. Garlic is our best seller at Gaia in the summer for our programs, so we made sure we planted extra this year.

In the heart of our school garden, the delicate dance between the elements of Mother Nature and our steadfast community commitment was truly the essence of success in the past year. Oyster mushrooms, earth and red wiggler worms, prolific beans, the flourishing apple tree, the gentle hum of buzzing mason bees, and the vibrant hues of orange and yellow calendula blossoms collectively painted a vivid picture of our shared journey with each other. While these were the stars of our garden, the true magic unfolded between thriving plants, curious critters, and the u passion and dedication of our students, volunteers, contributors, and supporters. Their commitment has nurtured the growth of our garden but has also sown the seeds of community, practicing sustainability and respect for the wonders of the natural world we are so fortunate to play, live and grow together in. See you in the garden!!!

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