A Comox Valley school’s garden project is now in bloom, despite a few obstacles along the way.
Last fall, the situation for the project at Brooklyn Elementary faced a bit of trouble when someone stole a shipment of boards for work at the school.
“It was awful when we lost all the lumber,” principal Erica Black said.
Of course, the project has also experienced some delays due to COVID-19 restrictions. The school had had a smaller garden prior, but it wanted to expand and restore the site. Last year, the goal was to expand the fencing.
The wood taken was slated for the gaga ball pit, a play area at the site, but the lumber incident last fall only proved to be a temporary setback, and the school community was bolstered by people in the community who stepped forward to help with more wood.
“We are completely benefiting from the generosity of our community,” Black said.
More recently, parents, students and staff were working hard in a “bucket brigade” to get the boxes ready and the fence erected.
“They quickly wanted to pound it together to make these new boxes,” Black said.
Around spring break, they got a load of about 20 yards of organic fish compost soil, which was filled into the 16 boxes.
“We scooped it and dumped it as quickly as we could,” she said. “They’re totally rich and loaded with quality soil.”
Shortly after, they were ready to start planting. Of late, things have been blooming, and some starters from LUSH Valley Food Action Society helped turn some of the garden green quickly.
“It’s kind of shocking to see how alive our gardening is already,” Black said.
LUSH Valley has also been working with the students to instruct them on topics like pollination or the life cycle of a plant. The parents designed the site to allow for space to help the students learn more about gardening in the actual setting.
“They did want it to be a teaching space,” Black said.
There is space for some indigenous plants, to show students what would normally grow in this area. They also have all the edible crops, such as berries and vegetables coming in.
At the last board of education meeting, chair Sheila McDonnell talked about the school’s project, saying she had the chance to go by the garden and was impressed.
“It just looks terrific,” she said. “They’re pretty excited about what’s in the garden right now.”
Even the neighbours are stopping by while out walking dogs, Black said, to have a look at how the area has been transformed so quickly.
As far as the plans over the summer, Megan Cowling, from the school’s parent advisory council, has been overseeing the project and is working on a schedule for people to look after watering at the site. In the meantime, the school is looking for a better way to get the water to the site than by dragging hoses, though as Black said, some heavier rain of late has helped with some of the watering.