Reynolds Secondary School, Victoria, BC
2017-2018 (Year 2)
Program Coordinator: Teacher, Heather Coey
The first year of our salad program began in September 2010 after starting a food garden in our inner courtyard in 2008 in Victoria BC, Canada. The garden space was a diamond in the rough and has now flourished into a beautiful producing garden that nourishes both the bodies and souls of our school community. After six years of running the salad bar program it is now part of the culture of our school with membership increasing this past year to 120 participating staff and students eating the once a week lunch time offering, which we are pretty proud of since there is a Tim Horton’s right across the street in our suburban community! The Whole Kids Foundation grant has allowed us to significantly develop our courtyard growing space this year. We have engaged in a district pilot project to jointly hire garden educator, Leah Seltzer, her position funded between the school district and non-profit organization, Life Cycles Growing Schools, to use the grant funds to build capacity and engage more staff and students with the garden space which has made a world of difference! As described by a student,
“Having a garden educator is great for a number of reasons. It encourages sustainability, helps get more students outside, provides an outlet for passionate students who want to garden, creates a space to work and hang out, and teaches us about garden initiatives not only in our school, but also in our community.”
We are supplying more and more of our salad bar offerings from our very own courtyard garden! Next year we look forward to completing our three year grant commitment by introducing educational signage to the garden and salad bar to better connect the two and help staff and students know more about the food they are eating and where it comes from. Another student quote explains how valuable this is,
“I loved weeding because it made me feel more relaxed and focused when I went back to class. I also loved eating the fresh grown food and plants and seeing where the salad bar greens come from.”
We look forward to what next year will bring. Wishing healthy gardens and food for all!
2016-2017 (Year 1)
Our Story, Our Journey in 5 Parts…
Part 1: We have a school garden and an organic local farm sourced salad bar program . We have found that really good projects are ones that have a sustainability plan built into them. With our salad bar program we have sustainability built in with previous program students being involved in a second year to be mentors and managers to the next group coming up. We needed a sustainability plan for our courtyard garden as it is a lot of work to maintain.
Part 2: At the 2005 Seedy Saturday event in Victoria held at the Empress Conference Centre, Aaren Topley of the Farm to School Network spoke with Heather Coey, Environmental Educator at Reynolds about how to get more gardens and salad bars going at schools in BC and the sustainability issue came up as how to maintain gardens over the summer when schools are not in session and thus seeds were planted for ideas to percolate.
Part 3: Fast forward to February 2016, Aaren found a partner for us! City Harvest Coop in Victoria, and later, Mason Street Farms was willing to enter into contracts with chosen Victoria High Schools to run an on-property ‘farm’ for the school to supply salad bar programs and the like. Reynolds jumped on board as one of those schools.
Part 4: We applied for a grant from the Whole Kids Foundation to get additional supplies to expand on our courtyard structures for running an inner courtyard urban produce farm to better supply our salad bar “REALLY LOCALLY”, set up the contract and here is what we now have… A fully operational food production garden inside our school that City Harvest Coop and now Mason Street Farms operates. What we get is; 60% of our salad bar needs supplied from right within our school, workshops put on for our students by the farmers so that they can learn about food security and growing their own food as well as other integrated topics such as compost science, an aesthetically pleasing outdoor space which is maintained even throughout the summer and a coop work placement for students wishing to learn more. What the farmers get is; the space to grow food and be able to sell for profit surplus food production beyond the needs of the salad bar and all summer harvest, as well as water supply and garden protection and future opportunities such as running a produce box program for staff and families at the school. All of which contribute to a growing awareness about eating local seasonal healthy food!
Part 5: We have a dream to see this model in all high schools in Victoria. Just imagine every high school having such a garden and salad bar program which can be used to educate each successive generation about good sustainable food growing and eating practices.