Wednesday October 26, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated 11:15 am October 27, 2022]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
In Langford today a new spread of native plants was installed by children from Ecole Millstream Elementary School in a boulevard on the main thorough-route of Treanor Avenue, alongside the school.
The City of Langford paid for the plants, which were provided by Satinflower Nurseries as organized through the Wild Schools Program (as organized by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation). Planting was done by Satinflower Nurseries workers and parent volunteers.
Principal Frances Krusekopf was really pleased with the project action today.
Wednesday just happens to be the weekly gardening day at Millstream Elementary, said Krusekopf. She explained that students got a bit of planting instruction in one garden area before participating with the adult landscapers in the new native planting project area.
Students were helping out. Some have experience from home as well as learning about food-growing at school.
Their teacher Sylvia Devenport coordinated up to four students in each team to work with a gardening specialist for today’s project.
The weather cooperated — sunny and bright, though colder than most previous days this fall season.
Suppliers support the teaching goals:
Satinflower Nurseries is located in Saanich; they specialize in native plants, seeds and consulting.
The Wild Schools Program has a team of 60 trained volunteers who participate in planting events for Grades K to 8, like the one at Millstream Elementary today, said Wild Schools coordinator Gareth Crawford on site today.
Activities like the municipal boulevard planting and the adjacent veggie garden on the school property are part of teaching sustainability and food security.
New municipal directions:
On hand to share in the enthusiasm of installing the new native plant species into the boulevard were newly elected City of Langford Councillors Kimberley Guiry, Mary Wagner, and Colby Harder. Re-elected Langford Councillor Lillian Szpak also showed up to check out the action.
As a parent at the school, Guiry got right in there with the kids doing planting, hands dirty with the happy work.
Running as a slate, five Langford Now candidates won seats as City of Langford councillors in the October 15, 2022 municipal election. As Wagner told Island Social Trends today, she and her fellow councillors and new mayor-elect Scott Goodmanson are “all more on the same page to work together on things that I consider to change in Langford”. She itemized those priorities as “transparent government, and building community — things like this garden — an initiative I’d like to see more and more of”.
“There’s so much we want to do for public engagement and sustainable development,” said Wagner. “There’s a lot of learning in the very beginning and taking things carefully to make sure that we are planning really effectively for the next four years.”
The veggie garden:
The food garden at Millstream Elementary had a bountiful crop over the summer. In September some of the harvest was sold in the community, raising $200. Two classes also made soup, as well as pancakes from squash and zucchini. Staff went even farther, making squash soup and zucchini muffins for the staff to enjoy.
Teacher Steve Deichmann started the school’s veggie garden about six or seven years ago. Students can spend time there when their classroom teacher is doing prep.
Today there were still some tomatoes on the vine in the teaching garden, waiting for the next class to come and pick, as part of a lesson on food or food-growing.
In the garden students try out new techniques such as a hugelkultur (mound culture) — essentially a giant hole one-meter deep, filled with rotten wood and starter soil. “The water and wood soak up the winter rain,” said Deichmann, so that when thirsty plants like squash are planted in the hole, they don’t need a lot of water to get started.
Deichmann encourages students to learn that food can be grown just about anywhere, including in pots on balconies, or even in plastic food containers.
Millstream Elementary is an SD62 (Sooke School District) school in one of the older neighbourhoods of Langford. Also known as École Millstream Elementary, the dual track school with about 315 students offers instruction in both French and English. There are eight English language divisions and seven French Immersion divisions.
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Mary P Brooke is a long-time west shore journalist and entrepreneur. Ms Brooke started her series of news publications here on the west shore back in 2008 with MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), expanding that into a weekly print newspaper Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), which further branched out as the colour print/PDF weekly newspaper West Shore Voice News (2014-2020). In mid-2020 the call to a fully online news portal was heeded, and Island Social Trends emerged at islandsocialtrends.ca .
Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. (Nutrition, along with sociology and community education) ran as a school trustee candidate in the October 2022 election. To the broader west shore community (Langford, Colwood, Metchosin and Highlands) she brought forward her long-time interest in good governance, along with a food security theme in her campaign.