Young students would benefit from planting vegetables

School gardens a healthy idea

It’s common in today’s newspapers to find articles promoting healthy diets, along with columns deploring an increase in obesity in children and adults.

For a time ,the 100-mile diet (shouldn’t it be 160-km?) was all the rage, and it’s still cited, though with lessened frequency.

Another off-and-on media story complains how city children have little concept of how food is grown or where, and no idea of what farming involves.

I believe there’s a response in southern B.C. that could address all three of those concerns – if not in the rest of the country, where the climate is more severe though modern greenhouse technology alleviates that problem.

Why cannot every school have its own kitchen garden, maintained by pupils using only hand tools and no biocides, to grow healthy foods for pupils’ lunches?

Not only would students learn something about food production, they could eat fresh, chemical-free crops they have grown themselves.

There are other teaching benefits, too, which require only the simplest of equipment: germination tests of seed need little more that blotting paper, distilled water and shallow glass dishes; dry sieving will separate fine and coarse soil particles and a scale will determine the proportions of each; a litmus test will measure soil acidity, all simple chemistry which could be extended to show how plants react to differences in pH; students could learn to make compost and use the product to improve soil health.

These projects would provide healthy outdoor activity as an added bonus and could be made a little more exciting by incorporating low-level competition between classes for ‘best’ harvests.

It isn’t difficult to come up with objections to such a scheme, but how valid are they? Are they fundamental reasons or merely excuses for not innovating?

Could student involvement be fitted into the existing curricula? Perhaps not, but curricula are not immutable.

Would safety be compromised? No, because only basic hand tools would be needed and no biocides would be used.

The weather might be unfavourable. True, but dealing with inclement weather is one of the challenges farmers must learn, and students would see for themselves how bad weather affects crop production and can be ameliorated by technology such as simple cloches.

Perhaps parent advisory councils or nurseries and plant stores could help with the not-very-large costs of seed purchase, and Service Clubs or hardware stores could sponsor purchase of tools.

Schools would need help with the initial task of preparing garden beds, but this would be a one-time-only start-up cost.

Is any school, elementary or secondary, public or private, willing to try to implement the idea? Does anyone in authority have the will to encourage such a trial program?

If a prison can do it, why not schools?

Dr. Roy Strang writes monthly on the environment for the Peace Arch News.


Just Posted

Judge adjusts Charter award in RCMP assault case in Surrey

Former Surrey hotel manager was awarded $65,000 in damages after RCMP assaulted him

‘Epic’ Surrey Pride party to celebrate 20th anniversary at Central City Plaza

Planners of family-friendly event don’t welcome nudity

White Rock council opts for compromise in waterfront parking fee increase

Amendment calls for hourly rates of $3.75 instead of $4 from April to September

Surrey councillor ‘concerned about democracy’ after tensions boil over with mayor

Pettigrew believes actions at June 24 meeting ‘were in violation of city charter and our city procedural bylaws’

The end is near for North Surrey rec centre, and programs will move within 4km radius

Plan is for the site of the aging rec centre to become mixed-use ‘Centre Block’ development

VIDEO: Tributes flow on 10th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death

Jackson received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009. He died at age 50

WATCH: Killer whale has the final catch in North Coast waters

Fishing duel sees salmon stolen by eager orca in Prince Rupert waters

40 cats, kittens surrendered in apparent animal hoarding at Vancouver home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Plane veers off runway, into ditch at Langley Airport

Fire, ambulance, and police are on scene

Okanagan RCMP bike patrol rolls up on alleged stolen vehicle from Burnaby

The driver, a 30-year-old Kelowna man, has been held in custody and is facing possible charges of possession of stolen property and obstructing a police officer

Man arrested after pimping investigation in Whistler

A 44-year-old man has been charged with procuring and benefiting from sexual services

Thieves steal two $40K chairs featuring gold serpents from Vancouver furniture store

Chairs believed to be the only two of its kind in Canada, police said

Province to increase parking, pilot First Nation stewards at busy Joffre Lakes

Two-hundred more parking stalls will bring total spots to allow 450 cars

Most Read

l -->