Youngsters till the soil

In a corner of barren soil, a group of kids will learn all about gardening, and eating what they grow at Panorama Recreation Centre.

Across the street, a group of Grade 4 students form a community circle, where the kids take turns sharing what they look forward to about growing food as the first group of KELSET students to take part in the Growing Young Farmers program.

Comments range from “tastes better,” to “I’m glad that we’re doing this because we’re growing all organic food, which is great because it’s better for the environment and it’s better for us,” and  “We’ll learn and we can teach other people, and start growing little gardens ourselves.”

“I’m excited about seeing what you guys end up growing over there,” adds Ian Hennigar, senior manager of Panorama Recreation.

The little patch of land hasn’t been used since the pool was built, he noted, and to have the students care for the garden, and the next batch of Grade 4s harvest it, is an exciting prospect.

It’s part of the Growing Young Farmers program, through David Friend, known as Mr. Organic.

“We need more people producing more health-friendly organic food in the community for the community,” Friend says. “There are many thousands of school-age students who are able and capable of producing that food.”

The curriculum-linked program is an extension of the summer gardening program where youngsters grew produce in a garden patch behind The Roost on East Saanich Road. Summer students will again till that soil, as part of Panorama summer camps.

The Growing Young Farmers program also runs at Stelly’s, Parkland and Claremont secondary schools and is currently on a volunteer basis. Funding is limited and the donation of time, seeds, equipment and soil are welcome.


Peninsula News Review