DIG DEEP: market gardening is developing

The popular movement for healthier eating that has grown around the world over the past decade is driven by a new kind of optimism and a lasting set of ideals.

The popular movement for healthier eating that has grown around the world over the past decade is driven by a new kind of optimism and a lasting set of ideals.

And Sutherland High School is showing us a way to grow the movement with a local environmental initiative that can be a role model for other schools to follow. The Sutherland Schoolyard Market Garden at 1860 Sutherland Ave., North Vancouver, officially opened on June 12 in the presence of local politicians, North Vancouver School District staff and representatives from sustainable food groups. A first of its kind on the North Shore, the Sutherland schoolyard market garden is intended to be a green outdoor classroom.

The deeper purpose of the garden was eloquently summed up by Emily Jubenvill, Director of the Edible Garden Project at North Shore Neighborhood House.

Jubenvill was busy with her chores when the garden opened, but managed to talk to me for a bit, explaining her perspective to me as we walked past a long raised bed of organic carrots that swayed and sparkled in the late afternoon breeze.

“School market gardens are hands-on outdoor learning classrooms where school communities come together to learn about food systems, environmental sustainability, connection to land and community,” he said. she declared.

The Sutherland Market Garden is about a third of an acre in size and is perched on top of a small hill in front of the school. It’s a small, unpretentious plot of land with great potential to change the way children learn to grow healthy, pesticide-free food in a sustainable way that protects and improves soil and land.

During my Kindergarten to Grade 12 education, learning about food consisted of obscure biology, botany or earth science references and time spent learning to cook in home economics. The same reality was more or less true for my children.

New optimists, however, see the way ahead in children’s minds.

“It doesn’t take much to leave a positive impression on a child,” said Dennis Charland of the Plant a Seed See What Grows Foundation (seewhatgrows.org). His organization strives to create a “healthier generation through experiences that connect people to the land while providing opportunities to improve communities.”

Charland was among the many community partners present at the opening, including Vancity, the Great Canadian Landscaping Company and Whole Foods. With the City of North Vancouver, Neptune Terminals, United Rentals, Holiday Inn Suites, Onni, Telus and the Real Estate Foundation of BC also supporting the work of the Edible Garden project.

The Sutherland Schoolyard Market Garden has so many supporters it’s hard to thank them all, but one of the project’s strongest supporters is Cynthia Bunbury who helped cut the ceremonial ribbon at the opening. Bunbury is a teacher in Sutherland and a firecracker of a lady with energy, enthusiasm and the courage to do anything to solve a problem. At least that was the impression I got of her – her students may think differently.

As the Mayor of the City of North Vancouver, Darrell Mussatto, jokingly said in his keynote address, “I know Cynthia well from the weekly emails she started sending me three or more years ago. four years.

Bunbury started out teaching drama, English and French, then moved on to teaching social justice and came up with the idea of ​​creating a garden at the school to teach students firsthand how to grow crops. healthy food. Bunbury and Jubenvill have been working for some time to get officials from the City of North Vancouver and the North Vancouver School District to allow the garden to be built in Sutherland. For anyone who has not been involved in projects like the vegetable garden, the approvals relate to sources of funding, insurance requirements, safety issues, and ongoing operational concerns. But new ideas also require changing people’s perceptions. One of the major approvals for the project came from North Vancouver Superintendent of Schools, John Lewis. Lewis and Sutherland manager Ray Bodnaruk made the right decision to approve the garden and seem to have been sufficiently reassured by Bunbury and Jubenvill that the garden will improve education and not diminish it.

Bunbury’s emphasis on the social justice aspect of the garden offers an intriguing reflection: Is access to safe, nutritious and affordable food a basic human right?

“Children need restorative experiences that connect them to the earth. They need to be connected to the soil and the food they eat to understand what healthy food means and how to grow it sustainably, ”says Bunbury, who grew up on a farm.

Bunbury also said she believes current global food production is enough to feed everyone if “we just stop wasting the 25 percent of our food supply that is wasted every year.”

I congratulate the North Vancouver School District and the City of North Vancouver for trying their luck in this project.

Maybe our children can now learn to grow healthy food more sustainably than previous generations.

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Terri S. Tomasini