Colquitz Middle School, Victoria BC
2017-2018 (Year 2)
We had been waiting for 5 years to get a school learning garden and the F2CC grant clinched the deal with a ground breaking in June 2017. In those past 5 years we have offered F2S lunches, with 83 lunch served in that span of time!
It all begain when we received our first F2S BC grant in 2012. We bought the rolling salad bar cart and all the equipment needed. In 2013, we served less than 50 people per lunch. Now, for the last few years approximately 150 staff and students are involved in eating and cooking/cleaning up after each lunch. Every class (20 divisions) gets a chance to make lunch once a year.
This past year we refrained from calling it a salad bar because we offer much more, such as 2 soups and 30 pounds of roasted potatoes/ root veggies as well as other hot and cold vegetables on a bi-weekly schedule. We have served eggplant moussaka, zucchini parmesan, puffed parsnips, grilled asparagus, mixed stir-fry… just to name a few. We grow our own sprouts, always slip squash and tomatoes into macaroni & cheese and provide a healthy cool drink. The drink is usually a mix of cold fruity herbal tea and chilled fruit juice. (Refreshing but not sweet.)
Our garden has also been an amazing success, with a irrigation being add this past year along with a beautiful handmade gate, welded by a member of our school community. We have been harvesting since late last year, and have added kale, arugula, mustard greens, and broccoli into our service.
Colquitz students are increasingly trying many different types of vegetables. We have a Sustainable Resource exploratory class where students spend time in the garden weekly. The F2S coordinator also teaches this class. From May to October some students go on a walking fieldtrip to a local greenhouse. This greenhouse supplies food for much of our lunches when it is operating. Colquitz is also building a Medicine Wheel garden (4 quadrant pie shaped) with edible and medicinal indigenous native plants. This is a work in progress. While research was done this past spring, the Medicine Wheel will be planted next Fall 2018.
Quotes from students referencing the impact of the grant as described by eating from the garden.
Creed gr 6 “These are the best and freshest carrots I have ever tasted”
Emily gr 6 “The strawberries were so sweet”
Isma gr 8 “I’m in PE but can I have more of that purple broccoli I had yesterday, then I’ll go back to PE”
Kendrick gr 7 “I didn’t think I liked peas but these in the pods are really good, juicy!”
2016-2017 (Year 1)
Since 1995, I have worked at Colquitz Middle School, in Victoria B.C. For many years, I drove by beautiful Glanford Greenhouses on my morning commute to school without ever stopping in to visit. While on the hunt for potential future field trips, I finally decided I needed to stop in, and I was wowed! That year, 2013, was significant for three reasons: I started teaching a new course, received a grant to start the Farm to School program, and finished a graduate degree from Royal Roads University.
In the fall of 2013, I expanded on my teaching from my grade six classroom, to start the Sustainable Resources (SR) exploratory. Needless to say, a field trip to Glanford Greenhouses was at the top of my “to do” list. Doug and Ling Eng, who have owned and operated the greenhouse since 1961, were very keen and accommodating, so much so that Doug even too time off from his day-job to offer tours to us. Classes went behind the scenes, where only employees are usually allowed, to see the inner heating and hydroponic nutrient systems. After five field trips that first school year, Doug suggested that since I had participated in so many tours, that I could guide the tour myself. Field trips to the greenhouse was a great way to spark our students interest, but what we really need was a garden of our own, and a salad bar program to connect the local food to our students bellies.
In 2013, we also started our Farm to School Lunch program, blessed with a parent who rearranged her work schedule to volunteer from September to May, “Soup Cynthia” supervises the creation of magnificent heart-warming soups. Lunch includes two types of soup, grilled potatoes -a favorite among students- and a variety of local seasonal fruit, vegetables and salads. At Colquitz we have the most amazing lunches created by students in 17 different divisions, for up to 150 students and staff. We have prepared 75 bi-weekly Farm to School lunches over the last four years. Essentially each serving is facilitated by a different class, who spend the entire day working on the salad bar serving: prep, service, clean-up, etc. We make a very strong effort to buy local produce from five regional farms. As well, Glanford Greenhouses often supply us with produce when they are open. We have continued to do tours of the smallest commercial greenhouse because it is important for our students to know where their food comes from. We also hope this connection will have students invite their families to visit the greenhouse and support the work of our local farmers through their garden gate stand.
This past year of 2017, we were also fortunate to start our own market garden which grows items we use in our salad bar. Due to the mild weather here in Victoria, we have actually been harvesting throughout the winter months. Here in Victoria we are lucky to be able to grow food year-round.