Healthy Living: Courtyard Community

We are fortunate at Kamloops School of the Arts (KSA) to be a unique public school, in that we are kindergarten to grade 12. We continue to look for ways to connect all of our students in order to build our school community.  A garden space is a great opportunity to do this.

We have started out simple, but have great plans for the future. At KSA we want to increase awareness of simple, healthy fresh greens and we want access to healthy food to be available to all our students. Therefore, our first and main project this spring was to build and maintain spaces and structures in which we can grown our own healthy food. In our high school science department we have bought an amazing micro-greens growing tower. This amazing tower is self watering micro-green stand, which can grow over 150 different plants. The stand also comes with its own cart, so it can be wheeled from class to class and each student in the school will have an opportunity to not only see the tower and learn from it, but also enjoy eating what it grows. High school and intermediate students will make healthy wraps and salads to sell monthly at our school, using the produce from our growing stand. Any profit made will go back into our garden program.

A big part of the new curriculum is ADST (Applied Design and Skills Technology), the Farm to School grant has already provided us many opportunities to work with our hands and build lifelong skills. Grade five students and their grade one and two buddies spent a day beautifying our courtyard and this included building two raised cedar garden boxes with the assistance of a local construction company. This was a chance for students to learn from a community partnership.  These two new garden boxes along with our two existing boxes have provided opportunities for students from our District Resource room, kindergarten and grades 1,2,5,6 and 7 take part in planting, weeding, growing and maintaining a garden space. Our initial plan was to have at least 3 classes actively involved in our grade project and so far we have had 7. Our District Resource room have also started composting to add fuel to the garden beds and to connect our 0 waste aims to growing healthy food.

Space is at a premium at our school, so we need to make sure each space can be used in multiple ways. Therefore, we are beautifying our courtyard space to make it an outdoor classroom and performance space. Students have been cleaning up garbage, weeding, pruning, raking, washing and sweeping this space in order to make it a comfortable, clean, and beautiful space to learn in.  Our five year plan is to build an outdoor stage that can be used for performance and as an outdoor learning space. The vision is to learn and perform in an environment that promotes healthy food. This year we worked on making the space, safe, clean and welcoming. In the fall we plan on continuing the up keep and renovations to make our courtyard the place to be at our school.

The grade 11/12 foods class went on a field trip to the Farmers Market with a grade 5 class. Students were given a unique opportunity to connect over fresh produce. Students were given a small budget to buy local produce. Students also talked to many of the local farmers to gather information on what grows best in garden boxes, what plants our good for bees, and what produce matures in the fall, as we are not in school all summer. The students then used the produce they bought to make salads to sell at the school. Making the salads offered the students great lessons in the handling of vegetables: how to wash, chop a serve, well following safe food handling guidelines. Although our salad bar did not make a profit it was a great learning opportunity for many of our students.

We are looking forward to continuing this project in the fall and seeing all our hard work take root, so we can harvest, prepare and taste the wonderful food we have grown. To us this project is more than a healthy food project, we see it as a community building project that benefits all the students at our school.