Sardis Secondary School Farm – Growing Community
The Sardis Secondary School Farm (SSSFarm) is a 5-acre extension of our School’s Agriculture Program at Sardis Secondary School, Chilliwack, BC. During the 2014-2015 school year 100 students were involved in our new program. In the fall, students planted 2000 bulbs on the farm for our beautiful bulb garden. This project taught students about bulbs and plant division.
In spring 2015, students created the first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Garden for the SSSFarm. The students selected 31 vegetables, with up to 5 varieties of each type, to grow on a 130’ X 130’ garden plot. They planned the garden layout with the idea of selling weekly vegetable baskets to 25 members of the CSA program. This CSA program fed 20 families over a period of 14 weeks. These students then prepared the garden by creating 4-foot wide growing beds covered in mushroom and chicken composts. These students then set sprinkler and drip irrigation lines. By the end of the school year they had fully seeded the garden plots and planted over 8000 square feet of delicious Joiners’ Corn™.
In our first year we had 8 students enrolled in our summer program and 4 dedicated adult volunteers. These students cared for the plants on the SSSFarm as well as caring for the vegetables grown in our SSS Greenhouse, including tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Food grown at both the greenhouse and the SSSFarm were sold in our weekly CSA baskets and also made it into our school food programs and staff sales. These students planted crops all summer, weeded, harvested foods, did pest control, packaged our weekly CSA baskets and harvested food for their families. Through all of their work they earned 4 grade 12 credits towards their BC dogwood certificate.
The SSSFarm began the 2015-2016 school year with 60 new students continuing the great work of our summer crew, harvesting vegetables and packaging CSA baskets for our members. These students also worked in our greenhouse and delivered food orders around the school to staff members and food programs.The food programs at the school include our culinary program, cooking classes and our special needs life skills class. The students in these classes made salsa, salads, and soups. One of our program goals is to continue to expand this portion of the program with the Farm to Table concept in mind.
The spring of the 2015-2016 school year has 40 students once again laying out the CSA garden, selecting its seeds and preparing the SSSFarm for another growing season. This summer of 2016 we have 35 CSA members signed up and ready to receive their weekly garden shares. This summer, students participating at the SSSFarm will be enrolled in a District 33 Summer course. We anticipate over 40 students enrolling and taking part in this phase.
The teachers Tania Toth and Joe Massie and their students are grateful for all of the support that we receive. Farm to School has been a very important contributor to our program. With the funds that they have granted us we have built a vegetable washing station at the SSSFarm, a hand washing and prep station, bought growing supplies for our tomatoes and peas, and bought packaging items for the vegetables in our CSA baskets. These items provide our program with clean food items for our members, staff, and school food programs.
Thanks Farm to School!!
We are excited to see the SSSFarm project moving forward again this year. We continue to work with our district and administrators to solve challenges such as transportation to the farm, having the garden cared for in the summer, and having the many facets of the farm running in an efficient and manageable way. In a program of this size start up is always a challenge. We have learned to build community within our school and city, and more recently, around the province.
We are continuing to grow our program and our community by welcoming 4 elementary schools on to the farm to start place-based learning around growing food. We are also in collaboration with 3 other elementary school who are growing food in their school yards. Future plans include hosting the local university on the back 2 acres of the farm for berry research.
Thanks again for helping us create this exciting project.
We look forward to seeing this project evolve in the coming years.