ENVIRONOTES: Plenty of lessons to be learned in the garden

Math, chemistry, physics and biology meet in the vegetable plot

With the idea of 100-km diets being widely promoted, the word ‘locavore’ entering our vocabulary and even the urban-focused Globe and Mail newspaper publishing a special supplement on farming, there can surely be agreement that school kitchen gardens are a worthwhile nutritional venture.

But they also provide many practical applications of classroom topics, all part of the learning experience. Obviously they can provide fresh supplements to lunch-time diets but there are more subtle elements.

Is this the opportune time to have a hard look at school curricula?

Laying out beds requires accurate measuring, cutting, shaping and construction to start with – elementary arithmetic.

Soil mix – sandy, loamy or heavier clay and their water-holding capacity open a window to physics lessons, with chemistry introduced when considering acidity (soil pH) and fertilizer requirements.

Biology follows as seeds are selected, sown, germinated and then tended as they grow. That means watering, weeding and protecting, which can demonstrate natural techniques to avoid application of artificial biocides – garlic alongside rose bushes to ward off aphids; onions grown next to carrots to deter carrot fly. Young entomologists can learn to kill on-sight the root-eating ‘C’-shaped cockchafer grubs, foster predatory ladybugs enemies of other harmful insects, while discovering the value of worms as aerators and decomposers.; there are many more natural defences; seeking them out will develop library research skill.

Once the crop has matured it must be harvested and cleansed ready for eating or minimal storage. Using a can, glass jar or plastic wrap. Unused plant and food stuffs should be composted – another biochemistry demonstration – and used as a soil supplement.

All this hands-on, practical stuff will help urban-dwelling pupils comprehend what is involved in bringing food to their tables.

There’s a definite series of connected events which follow a clearly-defined pathway – the food chain with its economic structure holding it together.

How does food get from the field to the kitchen and dining table and who finances each step along the way? It’s a bit like Dr. Seuss’ McKelligot’s Pool – “who knows what you will find.”

Gardens could be made available to parents during summer vacations, perhaps for a small fee.

We all need to eat, why not make food production a learning experience?

Dr. Roy Strang writes monthly on the environment for the Peace Arch News. rmstrang@shaw.ca

ColumnEnvironmentgardening

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

White Rock dogs-on-promenade survey shows majority approval

City figures suggest that off-season program could continue

UPDATE: Pedestrian dies after being hit by bus in uptown White Rock

Collision occurred July 3 at North Bluff Road and Johnston Road

PHOTOS: South Surrey tractor project evokes ‘$1-million smile,’ helps connect neighbours

Retired Surrey firefighter Ron Henze began project for friend’s dad to fill time during pandemic

Intent of killing at centre of Surrey man’s West Kelowna murder trial

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Allison Beames is anticipated to return with her decision in August

Surrey man facing charges related to child pornography

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

White-throated sparrows have changed their tune, B.C. study unveils

Study marks an unprecedented development scientists say has caused them to sit up and take note

Greater Vancouver home sales start to tick up, with prices holding steady

Residential sales last month reached 2,443, a 64.5 per cent jump from May

Langley Lodge’s deadly outbreak declared over

Fraser Health and long-term care home administrator confirm Friday declaration

Most Read

l -->