14 November 2016

Preparing for the Winter at Thunderbird Elementary

For more details, click to go the SPEC website.
Fall 2016: As the winter nears, and the rains pick up, students at our 10 schools have been busy getting the gardens ready for winter.

The students cover each garden box with leaves to protect the soil from the cold and rain, to feed the worms, and to add fertility back into the garden so that we can have rich soil waiting for us in the Spring.

TIP: Instead of putting your leaves in your green bin, you can use the leaves to mulch your garden over the winter, which protects the soil and adds nutrients back into the ground.

9 May 2016

Pollinator gardens because we need bees...

At Henry Hudson Elementary School, SPEC helped install four new garden boxes, to be filled with native plants that attract and provide food for bees and other pollinators.  Bee populations are on a decline, and as they are an important part of the human food supply, school gardens can play a role in helping them out in the urban environment.

SPEC would like to thank TD Friends of the Environment Foundation for providing funding for this project, and Home Depot for helping us with obtaining the necessary supplies.

When life gives you a lemon...

One of our school gardens, at Brock Elementary School, had experienced much abuse over the years, and finally broke.

One very awesome class decided to do something about it.  With SPEC's help sourcing repurposed (recycled) paints, brushes, and paint trays, they made some great signs to let everyone know what the garden meant to them.

 This garden is now more colourful than ever before!  A very special thank you to Gaia Green Products Ltd. and West Coast Seeds for donating so much organic fertilizer and seeds to us over the years!!

29 March 2016

Global Hunger Workshop with Bayview Elementary

By Amy Ing

On March 2nd, I had the pleasure to present a hunger workshop to Ms. Taylor's 24 students, Grade 1 class. The purpose of this workshop was to engage students in learning about how hunger varies across the world, and ways as a class we can do to help solve world hunger.

First, students were asked to describe what is hunger. Common responses were, 'when people do not have enough food and lack money to buy food' and 'when people do not eat in a day.' A student even described how hunger impacts the acidity in our stomach and how people may get sick from being hungry. Students also shared stories about their encounters with helping people suffering from hunger by donating food or giving them money.

Next, students were split into four different groups representing four countries: Indonesia, Mexico, Canada and Morocco. Each student in the group had to locate where their representative country was located on the map. I was amazed how easy these students found their country!
I was delivering the instructions to the class before the workshop.

                                                    Students locating where Mexico is. Bueno!

Then the students completed a two part worksheet. Part 1 consisted of drawing the foods commonly grown and consumed in their respective countries while also describing the jar of water on their table. Look at the amazing illustrations by these talented artists below!

The food items identified in each of the countries are as follows:
  • Morocco-couscous and rice
  • Indonesia-dragonfruit, starfruit and rice
  • Canada-vegetable fruit tray containing carrots, celery, tomatoes and broccoli, granola bars, Twizzlers and rice
  • Mexico-hummus, tortilla chips, rice and tacos
Students presented their drawings to the class and highlighted some key points. Among countries such as Morocco and Indonesia there were only two food items compared to Canada and Mexico. As well, there lacked a variety of food in these countries, further emphasizing the fact that hunger is much more than not having enough food, but also lacking a diversity of foods. In terms of the water quantity and quality, Morocco had the least amount and also the worse quality (with the water being murky and muddy) whereas Canada had the most and the cleanest.

Students were asked what ways as a class or individually can we help solve local hunger? Some of the student responses were:
  • "finish all of our lunches today so no food goes to waste"
  • "donate food to local food banks"- this was actually done by the students and families to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank in East Vancouver
  • "share food with other countries" (this part was actually demonstrated in class with students delegating which food item in countries Canada, Mexico and Indonesia would share/'donate' to Morocco)
  • "grow food in the [school] garden"
As one of the ways to theoretically help Morocco, I asked the class to share one food item from their country to Morocco’s table. Every student was eager to help out and despite their being a debate about which food item to give, each group had a different reason as to why they donated a food item. For example, in the Mexico table, students decided to donate hummus because they wanted Morocco to have some sauces for their bland food. Needless to say, it was very inspiring and rewarding to see the level of generosity among these students.

Part 2 of the worksheet was a reflection on what the students learned. Each student wrote a sentence or two about an important aspect they learned in the workshop. Some of the key things students learned were, "Indonesia grows dragonfruit and starfruit", "Indonesia, Mexico and Morocco have dirty water compared to Canada" and "hunger was more than not having enough food, but a lack of variety." Below you will find testimonials from our workshop.

After the workshop, students got to have some yummy Easter cookies and treats from their foods on their table as a thank you for their participation and their generous donation of 42 pounds of food to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society!! A special thank you to all the families and students in Ms. Taylor's class!! Way to go!

A grand total of 27 canned goods, 2 jars of pasta sauce, 6 bags of pasta, 30 mini packets of hot chocolate and 1 box of oatmeal were donated to East Vancouver.

 A receipt from the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society of our donation!