A support worker and a student work together at the Comox Valley School Salad Pot Project. Photo supplied

Salad pot project gives Comox Valley students the goods on greens

Indigenous cultural presenter Barb Whyte has been doing the salad pots for 25 years

Students in School District 71 are getting a chance to see how a garden grows up close.

A new program called the Comox Valley School Salad Pot Project grew out of the Indigenous Education program, and aims to show kids the basics of growing a garden in a small container.

Staff started the seeds earlier in the spring, and last week the students came out to finish their pots, which have lettuce and tomatoes, in addition to three or four other plants the students pick.

“They come and get six plants for every pot,” says Lynn Swift, a district Indigenous curriculum support worker for K-7 students, though she adds this project is for students at all levels.

Families showed up during the week at Nala’atsi School in Courtenay while maintaining social distancing guidelines and working outside to prevent any potential transmission of COVID-19.

“This is the culmination of weeks of planning,” Swift says.

There are close to 300 families taking part in putting the pots together or having them delivered to homes. Planning started in the spring after schools were closed for most students due to the pandemic. Staff contacted all cultural presenters through the district, and Swift adds staff get the chance to learn from mentors such as presenter Barb Whyte.

“As teachers, we learn from them about Indigenous knowledge,” Swift says, adding the salad pot project idea was Whyte’s. “Our slogan is ‘Food for Medicine,’ and that comes from Barb.”

Whyte, who works as a traditional knowledge keeper and health advocate, has been putting together these little gardens since the indigenous education program started and through the Wachiay Friendship Centre. Over the last 25 years or so, she has seen the youngsters she worked with come back with their own children in order to pass on the knowledge of growing food.

The salad pots offer a chance to learn about gardening even if families live somewhere without a yard.

It’s also a chance to teach kids about food that is fresh and organic, and that can even boost the immune system.

“So far, I think everybody’s enjoyed the process,” Whyte says. “It’s nice to show the kids where the food comes from.”

The idea behind the salad pot is to teach basic gardening skills to kids in a way in which they can see the process take shape, as they plant and take care of the crops. It is designed to be more manageable than a conventional garden.

“A salad pot is not so overwhelming for the children,” Whyte says. “They plant it and then they take care of it and watch it grow, and then get to eat off of it.”

The project timing in the midst of the pandemic was also appropriate in that food security has been on people’s minds more of late.

“I thought this would be a great project right now with COVID happening,” she says.

Students also receive a booklet with information about the nutritional value of plants, along with recipes for dressings and other information for growing, health and hygiene.

Whyte points out that while she has been doing this for years, the process continues to challenge her in new ways, as there is always something new about gardening.

“I still learn something new every year,” she says.

As the project is also about food security, the district has partnered with groups like LUSH Valley Food Action Society to distribute boxes to families.

RELATED STORY: Comox Valley students learning about environment in their environment

LUSH has also taken part in the salad pot project, donating seeds, as have others. Art Knapp’s Plantland and Arzeena Hamir of Amara Farm have donated plants and seeds, while the district’s indigenous support workers grew plants, and the district printing shop helped with the booklet. Health officials have also provided some key supporting information, while the City of Courtenay mixed up peat moss and dirt to help with growing the salad pots.

“We have a lot of donors that helped us,” Swift says. “It’s a big project, but we couldn’t have done it without everyone.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Educationfood securitygardening

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


Barb Whyte assembles a salad pot. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Just Posted

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Cumberland sets out future meeting video policy

Only regular council meetings to be livestreamed in the future

UPDATE: Missing teen found safe

Jenessa Shacter was last seen going for a walk in downtown Courtenay

Comox Valley youth starts virtual race against racism

Cailyn Collins says people can take part in the cause from anywhere

Comox Valley Regional District asks residents about curbside pickup

Online survey about waste pickup for most rural residents runs until Sept. 11

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Most Read