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Food garden at Belmont Secondary for learning and growing

On this autumn equinox, Belmont Secondary celebrates their food-growing garden.

Thursday September 22, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC

by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends


A fruit and vegetable garden behind Belmont Secondary School is a place for learning and growing food for the community.

Today the City of Langford announced that $10,000 from the Mayor’s Charity Golf Tournament has been donated to SD62 schools for use in the garden and related sustainability programs.

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This is the first year that the mayor’s annual charity event has included SD62’s Environmental Stewardship Program as a beneficiary. “It’s about investing in our youth,” said Langford Mayor Stew Young. Many of the recipients until now have been sports-related programs and teams.

Secondary Schools will receive Environmental Stewardship Program grants of $10,000, while middle schools will get $5,000 and elementary schools $2,500. Schools receiving the Environmental Stewardship Grant this year are four elementary schools (Crystal View, Millstream, Ruth King and Willway), two middle schools (Spencer and Centre Mountain Lellum), and the one Langford high school (Belmont).

Langford City Councillor Norma Stewart has helped organized the environmental initiative. Both she and Mayor Young addressed the small gathering at Belmont today.

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Behind the school:

The garden is fenced in, across the way from the large sports field that the City of Langford funded a few years ago. Some tomatoes are still on the vine, and grape vines are growing strong. Some flowers on the squash vines are still struggling in this late growing season in which bee pollination has also been challenged by a late start to summer and some aerial moth-spraying in the region.

The garden is maintained by skilled garden personnel, in support to the learning skills that students are attaining.

Garden standardization:

Last week the SD62 Resources Committee heard that food gardens at schools are heading for standardization, i.e. one garden must be fully established and maintained before the venture can expand. That includes personnel and budget considerations.

The new Pexsisen Elementary in Langford has busted out of the gate this fall with 16 garden beds already in place (awaiting planting).

Today’s small gathering:

Three students from the Social Justice class were took part in the formal media event. Ally Arnold (Grade 12), Alysa St Jacques (Grade 11), and Dylan Miller (Grade 11) are working on research projects as to how changes can be made in awareness and skill levels in food and sustainability. Part of the project scope is on how to make realistic decisions based on human nature.

belmont, garden, mayor, sd62
Announcing City of Langford funding for the learning garden at Belmont Secondary School, Sept 22, 2022 (from left): SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar, Langford Mayor Stew Young, Alysa St Jacques (Gr 11), Dylan Miller (Gr 11), Langford Councillor Norma Stewart, Langford Councillor Matt Sahlstrom, Langford Councillor Lanny Seaton, and Ally Arnold (Gr 12). [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

“Our board supports a culture of social responsibility,” said SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar.

Active curriculum:

Social Justice instructor Dayna Christ-Rowling says for her full teaching career she has wanted to help students improve their future by helping them make change today. She sees her role as helping to focus and bolster youth initiative, ideas and energy, and to guide them in ways toward seeing their goals come to fruition. She activates the students’ social action inquiry skills, and helps them develop skills that are transferable to the workplace.

veggies, garden, belmont
On this day of the Autumn Equinox, there are still veggies growing in the Belmont Secondary School garden (Sept 22, 2022). [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Belmont Secondary School Principal Laura Fulton is pleased about the range of food sustainability and food security learning in course offerings at Belmont.

While sustainability is not a requirement of the Ministry of Education and Child Care, there are plenty of opportunities at Belmont for students to have access to those concepts: science classes, outdoor education, foods classes, the culinary program, and sustainability science courses, says Fulton.

SD62 is growing:

The Sooke School District (SD62) has three high schools, all of which are developing food-growing gardens. There are over 12,000 students in SD62 in 2022-2023. The two urban high schools (Belmont in Langford and Royal Bay in Colwood) are over capacity due to rapid population growth in the west shore.

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===== ABOUT THE WRITER:

mary p brooke
Mary P Brooke is running for a seat on the SD62 board of education in the October 15, 2022 election.

Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Cert PR is the editor and publisher of Island Social Trends. She has been covering news of the Sooke and the west shore since 2008, with a focus on SD62 since 2014.

Ms Brooke is keenly interested in food sustainability issues and food security for youth and families. While Mary’s B.Sc. is in nutrition science, she also holds the McGeachy Prize in Journalism and a Certificate in Public Relations.

Mary Brooke is presently a candidate for the SD62 school board. She is Mom to four now-grown children who attended schools in SD61, SD62 and SD72.

===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:

Island Social Trends has been covering news of the west shore since 2008. That started with MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), then the weekly print Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and followed by the weekly print/PDF West Shore Voice News (2014-2020), which then morphed into the fully online digital news-magazine Island Social Trends.

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