Four Directions Secondary School is a culturally enhanced program with a significant focus on Aboriginal culture. Our journey with Farm to School began with a plan to partner with another program, build a greenhouse, and grow traditional plants. Without the partnership, we elected to pursue microgreens to support our food program, grow traditional plants using our grow stations, work with a knowledge keeper to engage with local ethnobotany, and construct, and plant container gardens.
The microgreens were a hit! They sparked a lot of curiosity, engaged many students at a time, and motivated us all with their quick results. The students enjoyed weighing the seeds and having their hands in the dirt as we filled the trays. Our selection of pea shoots and sunflowers were a delicious addition to salads and wraps, but the wheatgrass was the real show-stopper. The students absolutely loved juicing the wheatgrass with all the fruit and vegetables they could find. The wheatgrass juice was served on its own as well as in smoothies.
We had the privilege of working with Knowledge Keeper Jackie Jules and SD73 Aboriginal Resource teacher Noreen Pankewich to support our exploration of traditional plants. Noreen and a group of students planted hooshum, Indian toilet paper, pine, and rosehip from seed. Jackie travelled Secwepemculecw to gather (Turtle Valley/ Pritchard to Tkemlups) and brought in a selection of plants. She spoke to the students in Shuswap and explained traditional uses for all of the plants she gathered, as well as the traditional ways of gathering them. We have been excited to see the progress as our hooshum grow and look forward to transplanting them.
Students were tasked with the construction of our container gardens. We began by experimenting with lettuces, radishes, strawberries and herbs. It has been a group effort to move the planters in and out each day and a lot of fun to see all the seedlings come up. Hopefully we’ll be making salad by the end of the month.
Each year Four Directions sets a theme that underlies all that we do throughout the year. We were inspired by the Farm to School celebration this year! Next year our theme will be focused on connection to land, traditional foods, and sustainability in everything we do. Hence the title – looking back & growing forward.