Coal Tyee Elementary School in Nanaimo was one of the lucky Farm to School BC Grant recipients. This grant helped to provide support for a pilot program we are participating in with Nanaimo Foodshare. The Farm to School BC support has been instrumental in helping Nanaimo Foodshare to begin developing core curriculum lesson ‘kits’ for educators to use throughout the seasons in our school gardens and share local food knowledge. Through their support we were able to offer ‘Ecosystem of Compost’ lessons with core curriculum outcomes to more than 350 students from Kindergarten to grade 7 in our school garden this spring.
“Worms are Super Heros”, Ainsley, Grade 2
“A healthy compost needs water, air, browns and greens”, Tegan, Grade 3
“Plants drink compost tea!” Ryan, Grade 4
“If it has color, it’s a green”, Parker, Grade 5
The garden facilitators have become icons around the school, with many students recognising them, excitedly calling them by name and sharing their healthy choices with them. Finding easy, convenient, local food sources can be challenging and discouraging for busy families. This made for a great discussion, helping the students understand that making the best choices when they can was a great start, choosing ‘local foods’ whenever possible.
Through this process, we made many new local food connections and purchased local produce from: Five- acre Farms, Dudinks Garden, Salt and Harrow Farm, Farmship Growers Co-op, Cedar Farmers Market, as well as many ingredients from our own school garden. It was wonderful to share knowledge of these local food sources and we even made smoothies with the students, giving them the freedom to choose which healthy local ingredients they added to their smoothy and in turn their bodies, with the added bonus of adding valuable nutrients to our compost from the waste. It was amazing to see how adventurous the students could be and how many of them loved sharing their experiences.
SOIL Lit Kit Pilot Project phase 1
Together with the guidance of the Nanaimo Foodshare SOIL Lit Kit team our school educators/parents/supporters participated in an advisory committee to discuss what materials, learning tools, objectives and lesson plans would most benefit our school’s classes to either learn outside or bring outdoors with hands-on learning in the classroom. Nanaimo Foodshare facilitated two SOILAC meetings to help define these goals as well as work towards how best to incorporate the new BC curriculum into each lesson plan with supportive assessment materials. SOILAC school participants collaborated and cross-pollinated ideas, supports and solutions to concerns. Our outline to complete 4 kits around different garden/environmental themes was supported and adapted to what best worked for our SOILACs. Contents for our first kit theme was developed “Ecosystem of Compost” and includes:
1) a comprehensive compost teaching resource binder (located within the school photocopy room as well as an online PDF for school educators to also provide editing input)
2) a grab-and-go concise binder with only grade-specific lesson plans, assessment tools and compost vocabulary that relates to the materials found in the material kit
3) a material kit tote which contains all supplies uncommon in the existing school supplies which are included in the compost lesson plans for enhanced hands on and experiential learning Lessons Learned As this was the first SOIL Lit Kit developed (1 out of
4) we realized our original timeline was unrealistic and that we did not have time to fully incorporate the kit (material totes specifically) into all garden classes this spring. We will continue developing the kit contents over the summer and fall to be implemented in the fall, winter and next spring school year.
We would like to thank Farm to School BC for choosing our school! We are excited to continue to eat, grow and learn in our own community!