SARDIS SECONDARY SCHOOL FARM
We are happy to announce that we are in our third year of our Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA). This is a program that has been supported by the people who have come into contact with us in order to purchase shares of our garden vegetables, grown by our students, for three years now. Over the years, we have grown in our membership for our CSA and our student involvement. We continue to lean towards a diversified garden that includes multiple varieties of each of our 32 vegetables grown. Last year we were able to provide food for 40 CSA members, 5 volunteer families, 43 students families as well as weekly school vegetable sales to our foods programs, cafeteria and our staff. The concept of the garden is to grow local, harvestable vegetables for our shareholders and students.
Our students are enrolled in a regular school year. Acquiring credits for their grade 11 and 12 years in the area of science. Recently however, we have extended this PLACE-BASED learning opportunity into our district SUMMER LEARNING PROGRAM. This program is aimed at enriching students learning outside of the school year. Giving our high school students an opportunity to gain credits while the school year is on hold. We have students entering high school obtaining grade 10 credits and current high school students obtaining grade 12 credits. We offer this learning potential through our district allowing students who are not connected to our school to participate in our program, while gaining credits towards their dogwood.
This will be our second year running a successful Summer enrichment program for students in middle school and high school. Our students are a part of an amazing experience, linking them to the outdoors, food production and the potential of post-secondary success. We do this by working with a local professor, an expert in horticulture and berry farming within the lower mainland of BC, Canada. Our student’s exposure to the post-secondary institution (UFV) and instructors creates a comfortable transition for our graduates. We continue to nurture this relationship with the post-secondary institute; as well as trying to reach new connections for our student’s successes.
SCHOOL COMMUNITY GARDEN (SCG)
Our students are doubling as mentors within their own educational world of Kindergarten to grade 12. This year the high school students built in collaboration with elementary students the irrigation system for the raised beds in the School Community Garden (SCG) portion of our farm. This partnership started last year when we added SCG to the Sardis Secondary School Farm.
We began with a large group of interested elementary teachers who were looking to create a new experience for their students around food production and learning. We have five committed classroom teachers. Their classes start the year out by visiting the garden and harvesting food from both their garden (SCG) and our (CSA), their bounty returned to their classroom where they create snacks or lunches. Thus beginning the excitement and curiosity of growing. These students continue to plan their garden as the year progresses through the non-growing seasons. These classes came back to finish the year off with planting, growing, identifying vegetables and harvesting early varieties. The students and their families have signed up to take turns caring and harvesting for the garden throughout the summer season.
One day we hope to have a summer enrichment program for elementary students that works to maintain the garden beds while continuing teacher instruction around food, sustainability, conservation of resources and local production.
Our program has continued to expand. We started our vision years ago and have been successfully growing on the Sardis Secondary School Farm for the last 3 years. Our growth has been the result of financial sponsors, community sponsors and the commitment of members of our district. We are always looking for ways to make this program better for our students. We try to tackle world issues around food and sustainable food production with our students.
So… we have BEES!!! Recently a local beekeeper has added bees to our farm providing the next piece of the puzzle. We will now be able to demonstrate the magnificence of the bees, locally. Already they are working on our farm pollinating and foraging. The goal is to create a model of what can work within a local environment or city that is seasonal and doable based on our location on our planet.
This year we are also installing a refrigerator so that we can work more efficiently within the means of our timetabling system. We need to function within the farm instead of relying on it and our school for preservation of our produce. One of our difficulties is that we are off campus. Due to this we have learned how to resource funds and community relations in order to continue to deliver a complete experience to the students who enroll in our program.
We are looking to continue to expand the Sardis Secondary School Farm with an orchard. We want to continue the programs that we have established, however, continuing to modernize them as the world food systems change.
We are adding an interpretive component to our garden, thus adding lessons in motion, as it will be online and continuously reflecting the changes in our world reaching kindergarten to grade 12.
The local university (UFV) will be establishing berry research crops on the field this summer, allowing our graduates to see potential in the field of food research and sustainability as a post-secondary option and/or a career.
Our mission is to continue to deliver an experience that is hands on, sustainable and current in the production and distribution of food.