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LOCAL FLAVOUR: Growing good gardeners
With summer coming to an end, it is time for South Delta’s young urban farmers to taste the fruits, and vegetables, of their labours.
Mike Schneider leads Project Pickle, which aims to get school kids interested in agriculture by having them get down and dirty as they tend to their school’s vegetable garden. Students are responsible for planting, tending, harvesting, processing, marketing, distributing and ultimately eating what they grow.
Currently there are 15 Delta schools taking part in the program, and another four coming on board in September. Schneider said he expects to have all 31 schools in School District 37 involved to some degree by the spring of 2014.
Thousands of cucumbers across the district are currently being harvested and prepared for pickling, with Beach Grove Elementary School winning the high yield title in Delta.
“Farmer Mike”, as many of the students know him, says he’s not trying to grow farmers, but instead encourage young people to get reconnected with their food and where it comes from.
“We are trying to create an opportunity to learn simple life lessons that have been lost for the most part over several generations,” he says. “If A child plants a cucumber seed and sees what happens over the life of the plant and how the fruit eventually gets on to a store shelf and ultimately on to their burger, they have learned a lot about food.”
Schneider works with partners at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Solefood Street Farms to make sure that the kids get outside throughout the year to see progress in their own neighbourhood school farm environment.
“A big part of Project Pickle is to ensure that the kids are exposed to their farms on a daily basis,” says Schneider. “They see them when they arrive in the morning, at recess, at lunch, after school and throughout the school day as guided by their educators.”
Schneider says the reaction from students during the harvest has been a “mind blowing experience” as they get to taste the result of their hard work.
“I hope that they learn that being outside is fun,” he says. “I hope that they enjoy the social experience of discussing their exploits in their neighbourhood and that they learn to want to share and eat what they have grown.”
Schneider has built an interactive website so that interested students, educators and parents can share their experiences via blogs, photos, and videos at www.southdeltaportal.ca/
“We are hoping that the social networking aspect of Project Pickle will support and encourage interest in agriculture,” he says.
Yields about two and a bit cups and can feed 10 or so as an appetizer with beef or lamb meatballs or with barbecued Pita bread.
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- 1.5 cups plain Greek yogurt..thick style preferred
- 2 medium sized off the vine cucumbers
- juice of a half lemon
- Pepper to taste
- two fresh dill sprigs chopped fine, one for garnish
-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil preferably Greek
- chili pepper flakes (optional)
- teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
Peel and halve cucumbers lengthwise. Scoop seeds out with a teaspoon and discard (or better, dry and save for the spring)
Finely chop cucumber fruit and add to a bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Chill for at least an hour and a half until the oil congeals and binds the excellentness of the fresh cucumber.
It is just not the same if it is not done vine to bowl!