The Parkway Food Forest Garden was very productive in 2016 and the 2017 crop is looking great! Students have been eating fresh vegetables at school, taking produce home and last summer, volunteers stored summer crops for the fall.
By the end of June, 2016, students were picking, cleaning and preparing their own salads using a variety of lettuces and herbs from the garden. They enjoyed trying zucchini, blueberries, and currents as well as tasting an assortment of edible flowers. Pansies were their favourite!
In the summer months, several students who consider Parkway their home away from home and often their safe place, would come help in the garden, have a snack while there or go home with produce. One young girl came with salad dressing one day, which she tried to hide, but was given the green light to fill her belly with the abundant greens.
As summer progressed, volunteers started to prepare some of the harvest to store for use in the fall. We froze over 60 cups of grated zucchini and many bags of tomatoes. We also dehydrated many herbs and edible flowers as well.
In September, our garden volunteers made spaghetti with the frozen tomatoes and hosted a dinner for students’ families. Breakfast Club volunteers used the zucchini to make muffins for students. Teachers made even more zucchini muffins with students in their classrooms.
This Spring, volunteers, teachers and students have enjoyed seeing the many perennial plants return such as blueberries, goji berries, herbs, nasturtium, pansies and more. All of the fruit trees survived as well; we hope to enjoy apricots, plums, nectarines and peaches this year. Many new plants went in this spring and we’ve already harvested spinach, radishes and many strawberries. The oregano returned with such a flourish that we have many bunches to go into the dehydrator.
Parkway’s Food Forest Garden is a tremendous success. It has allowed students opportunities to take a seed and nurture it into something to feed themselves. Students have worked along side volunteers both old and young and have learned so much more than healthy eating. They’ve made connections with, and gained respect for, the land and the garden helpers. From this, they have become more mindful and respectful of place and people.