Blue River Elementary School Garden

Posted On Thursday April 22, 2021

By Lee Onslow

Let me introduce you to the Blue River Elementary School’s edible garden!  Blue River School is unique in that it is a one-room classroom with seven students who currently range from grades two through seven.   

Our garden was established three years ago with a successful grant application to the Whole Kids Foundation who awarded Blue River Elementary School with $2000. At that time, we had 11 students and all of them were thrilled when we started to plan the indoor garden! For more pictures, see the photo gallery, here

The goal of our garden is simply to teach the children basic gardening techniques. This includes planning, building and seeding our garden; using tools safely and correctly; learning about the weather and the use of grow lights and how they affect the grow cycle of each plant. 

As well the students learn the nutritional needs of the plants throughout the growing cycle; plant identification and structure; Indigenous plants and their uses; harvesting; nutrition education; economics (by selling seedlings in the spring to community members) and philanthropy (by donating plants to the Blue River Community Garden).

Recently composting has become a daily activity at the school.  The addition of a bear-proof composter has been a value added tool to help educate the students about decomposition, energy cycles, soil health and what growing organic food needs to nourish the body, all while reducing the amount of organic materials that go into the landfill.  

The garden room has four sets of full spectrum LED grow lights.  This setup allows for us to plant 20 trays of seedlings in the spring.  When school returns in the fall we use larger pots to grow cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, onions, and various types of lettuce and herbs which will be consumed during the winter months.   

The children learn the fine art of pollinating their plants with paint brushes and truly enjoy being little bees.  It is a highlight for the students to come into the garden to observe what has grown and what can be harvested.  Over the past few years our garden room has included worm composting and a chicken egg incubator, both of which we would like to use again next year.

It is our hope that all of our students embark into their summer vacation eager to continue to produce top quality organic vegetables in the Blue River Community Garden and at home.

The Blue River Community Garden an extension of the Blue River Elementary School’s classroom.  It is a food producing oasis in the heart of town.    Each year the school children grow seedlings for the community garden in their indoor garden. 

As well, they help with the spring clean up, they plant the school’s two garden boxes and plant in all ten of the community boxes which are free for community members to harvest.  Each child is offered their own garden box and I am happy to report that 60% of the children choose to maintain their own garden throughout the summer growing season! 

The school children learn how to design their gardens with a focus on companion planting and plant spacing to ensure a good harvest.   They also learn how to prepare their seedlings to transition from an indoor growing environment to the outdoors. 

The students at Blue River Elementary School are also introduced to community spirit through this garden.  They have been included in the Blue River Community Garden since it was revitalized in 2018 and have seen the addition of a beautiful rock flower garden, which they helped to plant, the addition of 30 new garden boxes, the planting of beautiful Maple trees, and the construction of a screened in gazebo.   

They have been taught about grant funding from organizations such as the Whole Kids Foundation and the North Thompson Communities Foundation.  They understand the benefits of donations from local government, stores and businesses.  They truly understand the huge benefit volunteer hours bring to a project.  

The Blue River Elementary School’s garden is growing young minds!

 

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