Kids at Alderson Elementary have more than one reason to be excited the school year is over. The Coquitlam school unveiled one of the first permanent elementary school gardens just before the 2011-12 school year wrapped up.
Maintained, harvested and cared for by the school's 216 students, the garden will yield fruits, vegetables and flowers, and teachers hope it will provide a variety of new learning experiences throughout the year.
"We have lots to celebrate today," said principal John Goheen. "This garden is now a firmly fixed part of our school community. Already, it has sparked scientific curiosity, instilled a reason for accurate measure and a context for data collection. In the years to come, the garden will yield so much more than tomatoes, carrots and beets."
The project took a year to get off the ground, and came at no expense to the school after it received donations from the Burquitlam Lions, the Vancity Maillardville branch, the Footprints Conservation Society, the Dogwood Pavilion Association and parents.
According to Goheen, the garden is already inspiring numerous questions from curious students about insects and bugs that will benefit the plants, the water cycle and the weather.
Eleven-year-olds Nicole and Jerica are excited about the prospect of being able to harvest the fruits of their labour.
"I like growing the plants and we get to harvest and eat them after," said Nicole.
"We get to put soil in the boxes and plant them. We plant pickles, strawberries, carrots, lettuce and cucumbers," added Jerica.
Few schools in School District 43 have gardens, but there has been a gradual shift towards using them as a hands-on learning experience for kids, Goheen noted.
Over the summer, volunteers from Vancity, Place Maillardville Community Centre and parents have agreed to maintain the garden while students and staff are on vacation.