Victoria High School, Victoria, BC
Victoria High School, in the heart of the Fernwood Community, is Victoria’s oldest school. In fact, our school archives have a photograph of Vic High Students in the early 1900’s working on plots of vegetable gardens.
It is incredible now, as 4 years ago we started to create or rather re-create another school garden with the goal of providing outdoor education on food sustainability and food security for our community. A number of educators at our school supported this project and we work in a community that truly supports local agriculture and urban farming. We also wanted to start sharing with students skills to not only grow their own food but also know how to make healthy choices.
This garden has really grown and developed because of the community and the partnerships that we have. The fence and installation was donated by Tower Fence, whose owner lived on Gladstone street as a child and he willingly donated towards a project that would provide healthy food for students. Then we made a connection with Aaren Topley with the Farm to School Network and our dream to get a salad greens production on site happening began to evolve. He connected us to our first grant with Farm to School BC, where we were able to start building irrigations systems, plantings, teaching about growing food. We connected with City Harvest Coop in Victoria and they were amazing farmers and shared their knowledge of the earth. They taught students how to build a greenhouse, to plant and process salad greens and to build a garden despite the decimating wire worms that we found in our soil! They kept the students positive and learning in practical ways about the day to day life of farming. We served our first salad last school year and from there , we wanted more!
We applied for a grant from the Whole Kids Foundation to get additional supplies to actually create a garden that was much larger in size and one that could actually be a pilot for our school district to show that school grounds can be farms. We wanted to build a partnership with local city farmers and to really provide local food grown on site and serve it in our own salad bar program.
In the fall, we connected with Mason Street Farms- and farmer/coordinator, Jesse Brown. He has been an incredible champion for this project. He is leading the way into creating our space into a new space of greens!
In the meantime, we purchase gorgeous fresh salad greens and have started serving salads regularly.
Students are deeply involved in this project. In fact, the salad bar program is run by key students in Environmental leadership who work together with students in a Life Skills class to process and prepare the greens, grate, boil, cut and slice beets, carrots, peppers, cucumbers and more! As well as mix together garlic balsamic and olive oil salad dressings. Delicious!
We have a dream to have fresh healthy eating a norm in our school. We also hope that our collaboration with community groups in building our school farm will initiate future building of school gardens and promote food security in our city.
And guess what ? We just got official approval for the expansion of our garden! Vic High Farm is on its way!