Gardening, construction, nutrition, and environmentalism, are all hoped-for results of a $12,000 grant Lake Cowichan Secondary School (LCSS) received last year.
The money was part of a $24,000 grant the Town of Lake Cowichan and the local school district received from the provincial government for a Neighbourhood of Learning concept in town, of which half was set aside to improve LCSS’s gardening program.
The $12,000 is going towards materials and hiring maintenance labourers, when necessary.
So far, LCSS teacher Michelle Taylor said that a site has been selected for a community garden, and the school’s shop class has made improvements to their greenhouse, which has fallen into disrepair over the years.
Taylor hopes to have the greenhouse up and running by the end of April.
“I’m hoping that we can begin growing vegetables for the breakfast and lunch programs,” she said.
There are many facets to the project, Taylor said, including a compost program.
Although the school already has a successful recycling program, it does not currently compost biodegradable products, which can help reduce the school’s input into the garbage dump.
“My goal is to have just about zero garbage collected at the school,” she said.
Taylor can often be found catching students throwing out recyclables. She’s quick to point out the importance of recycling, and hopes to see things improve in the near future.
The community garden project should also be up and running by next year, she said, and should consist of between eight and 10 easily-accessible garden boxes, courtesy of Duncan-based Dogwood Lumber.
A minimal fee will be charged to community members who want to partake in the program, Taylor said.
“That will make people accountable,” she said.
One box will be retained for in-school use.
The intention of the community garden program is to have local students working with seniors to grow produce together.
“That’s a big part of this; bridging that gap,” she said.
Gardening, Taylor said, should be an important part of students’ education.
“Kids need to know that they don’t have to go to the store to survive,” she said. “We have to concentrate on eating at a local level, as opposed to at a global level.”
It’s hoped that students’ in-school education around eating locally, and producing one’s own food, will then translate into students’ homes.
This, Taylor said, can result in reductions to the town’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.
These projects will take a lot of volunteer hours.
“I will be looking for volunteers; anyone interested in helping out,” she said.
The school can be contacted at 749-6634.