Windermere Organic Garden
School: Windermere Community Secondary
Votes Received: 348
Our involvement in the school and community has filled us with knowledge that has raised awareness of our global impact. Food and agriculture are at the forefront of many environmental and social issues, ranging from climate change to exploitation of third world workers and migrant workers employed by large agribusinesses. As we became more aware of the consequences of our food choices and eating habits, we felt that this would be an important issue to tackle in our school and were passionate about taking action. Working in the garden has provided an avenue for the cross-grade interaction of students at our school. Witnessing the different age groups working collaboratively has been an exciting development and transcends teenage stereotypes. A strong sense of community has developed within the youth involved in the garden as is evidenced by the large number of students participating throughout the summer. Our generation has also lost the connection to the origins of their food and the garden has proved to be an amazing way to re-establish that bond. The raising of awareness and experiential component of supporting and growing organic and locally produced food are a step in a positive direction towards social and environmental change. When the garden was initiated almost three years ago, we started small. Although many obstacles were overcome, our success could not have occurred without the undying support from community members, such as the Environmental Youth Alliance, Slow Food Vancouver, Evergreen, and Collingwood Neighbourhood House. After a year, we have fully established a composting system within our school and currently have support from UBC students in implementing sustainable agriculture into the school's curriculum. Currently, we have successfully installed a student-built 16' X 20' greenhouse and thirteen raised beds! This year's project is focused on establishing an aquaponics system, which focuses on the utilization of nutrient production from the fish to promote optimal growth for crops. This provides an excellent hands-on learning opportunity for Science and Socials Studies departments. Partnering with community members and horticulturalists, students are able to learn about sustainable agricultural practices, including the use of companion crops. Our Mason bees will play a significant role in pollination. In hopes of reducing our carbon footprint, we have been given the green light to install seven solar panels that will offset the energy use in our greenhouse for five hours a day! Our long term goal is simply to increase the food yield by maximizing the use of our greenhouse and establishing an efficient method of seeding and harvesting. By doing so, we are able to provide more food to our school cafteria and to the Morning Star Program that provides food for low-income families at Collingwood Neighbourhood House. With our current progress of the Organic Garden, we hope to expand to secondary and elementary school classrooms in which students are able to be educated through hands-on activities and the importance of creating a sustainable community. We would like to thank the amazing support from students and teachers!
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