Valleycliffe Elementary School has an amazing Living Classroom. Our Living Classroom is an enchanted space for children that evokes a sense of wonder and curiosity. A place that offers a rich variety of play and learning opportunities. A place where children can fill their senses, make friends, explore the natural world and try something new everyday…
Within our Living Classroom lives our “edible gardens” as well as: pollinator gardens, bug hotels, an ephemeral/amphibian wetland, forest, trails and a gathering circle.
The students of Valleycliffe Elementary School have been involved in every aspect of our Living Classroom. They’ve planted over 2000 native plants, helped build a beautiful, thriving wetland, weeded old garden beds to create new pollinator gardens, built edible garden beds, made paths, bird-feeders, fences and so much more. It has never been about finishing the project – it has been about the journey – what we learn, share, experience and cherish with each other and our community.
Our edible gardens play an important role in our Living Classroom and our children’s school life. Each classroom can claim one garden bed as their own. The students have been involved in growing edibles for over 5 years now. Sometimes our gardens are successful and sometimes they are not as bountiful as we hoped, but they are always overflowing with important lessons, new friends and magic.
Last year we received a grant from “Farms to School BC” which allowed us to learn a bit more about gardening and lending a helping hand to those who need it. We partnered with a local organization, Squamish Helping Hands, to grow food for the homeless, the food bank and for a “by-donation” market stand aimed at low income families, allowing them to retain their dignity and shop for the items they needed or wanted. We harvested chard, kale, carrots, radishes, tomatoes and peas.
We had so many seedlings started we could take some home to plant in our own gardens.
We were also able to go on traditional edible plant walks with a First Nation Educator who taught as about the foods and medicines the First People’s ate and harvested before there were farms and how important these foods still are to the Indigenous People and their culture. This year we will plant some of these traditional plants in our Living Classroom and gardens.