The students at Skeetchestn Community School are lucky to have such a wonderful place to grow up in. The Skeetchestn First Nations Reserve is located just past Savona, B.C. and is home to approximately 500 people. This verdant valley is beautiful, with majestic mountains surrounding it and offers abundant wildlife, fishing and medicinal plants that have sustained the population over the years. Wild onions, asparagus and potatoes also grow in the surrounding hills. A vision for a school garden is one of the goals we set for ourselves a number of years ago, so it was with excitement that we began the process in 2015. This year, we decided to build and plant veggie boxes for the Elders in the community, which was an idea brought forward by our Youth Worker. The boxes will have lettuce and various herbs in them. Students attended a workshop session to help build the boxes and also participated in a gardening session that was held in the community to learn about gardening and pruning with Greg Houghton from Art Knapp’s. There is a small community garden in the Subdivision area of the community, which has some flowers and vegetables growing in it.
The difficulty we are finding at the school is that we do not have any beds or a fenced area that will keep deer from coming along and eating what we have planted. Also, we are waiting to get an automatic watering system set up or have running water in the greenhouse as we are finding it a challenge to fill and carry watering cans back and forth from the tap and hose area. Many of the seedlings we started in the greenhouse were lost as it was just too hot and we really didn’t water as much as we should have…although we did try! I have put in my request to the Skeetchestn Public Works Department and we have decided to start on the project in the fall, with students helping to design and build the fence, walkways and beds, and be involved in the set-up of a timed watering system. We have a vision, it’s just taking a bit longer than we’d like!
I am excited for the next school year as I have an opportunity to collaborate with a colleague whose grandfather is a lifelong gardener and former orchard owner who is more than happy (as gardeners always are) to share his knowledge and help us with the planning and set up of our school garden.
We have been able to use donations from the community on a few occasions, such as salmon and moose meat, which were served at our annual Harvest Feast in October. Along with this, we had vegetables that were donated by community members, such as squash, beets, beans and tomatoes.
Our school is a great place to be, and the school garden will help to enhance that even more as we continue to build relationships and the joy of growing good food!