One of the hundreds of organizations that has gratefully received funding from the Victoria Foundation is the “Growing Young Farmers Society.”
The non-profit teaches people how to plant, nurture, and then eat, food grown in their own school gardens.
Jenny Szulc, from the Society, has been visiting this classroom of kindergarten and grade one students once a week since September.
The small staff and many volunteers of this non-profit, founded in 2011, are passionate about teaching all ages, from preschoolers to university,
how to grow healthy produce.
The Society points out that if there ever was a major disaster on Vancouver Island, we have food supply for just three days.
The Growing Young Farmers program takes the students through every step, from creation to harvest.
“We teach them how to begin a garden bed” explains Szulc, “how to build the soil, how to plant a bed, how to take care of a bed…it’s really amazing!”
And the students don’t just learn in the classroom – donning their raincoats and boots, they head across the street from their school, Deep Cove Elementary, to a neighbour’s donated garden.
“It makes me very happy to see the children here!” says Gerhard Furstenau.
Furstenau has owned this property for decades. Now eighty-two, he’s made arrangements for the creation of a park.
“I can live here until I die” says Furstenau, “and then the municipality takes over, and it’s a park.
“And the kids can be here and enjoy it! I enjoy having the children here!”
And the children enjoy visitng – to work in the garden they planted.
“It always surprises me how willing they are to try new things from the garden” says Deep Cove Elementary teacher Erin Hill.
“We’ll just go out into the courtyard, or come to Gerry’s, and they just pick things and eat it right away.”
Jenny nods in agreement. “We hear feedback from the parents and the teachers about how their child ate things that they didn’t eat before, or tried vegetables that they didn’t try before.
“And I really encourage them to experiment with their eating, because I think when they take that ownership of what they’ve grown and they consume what they’ve grown, there’s really no better thing that we could be doing for our kids.”
Growing young farmers, one classroom at a time.