Garden to Plate
Sustainable Living, Sustainable Learning (SL²) is a pilot program that is creating innovative projects with local schools, such as cob pizza ovens, stationary bikes that make smoothies, sustainable food forests, and digital storytelling. Together with OUR Ecovillage, we are working in the Shawnigan Lake area at schools to develop community resources for inquiry-based learning that will work in tandem with the new BC school curriculum.
The farm to table dining concept is nothing new to the Cowichan Valley. The local area is a hothouse of culinary experiences that bring farms, kitchens and dining rooms together. Relatively new to British Columbia though, is the farm to school approach. On the Farm to School BC website (farmtoschoolbc.ca) the mission statement reads, “Working with communities and partners, Farm to School BC seeks to empower and support schools in building comprehensive Farm to School programs that support vibrant, sustainable, regional food systems, develop student food literacy and enhance school and community connectedness.”
OUR Ecovillage has been stepping up to help bridge this system. This year between February and November, a wide range of school groups visited OUR education centre, some for a day, and others for a week. While at the ecovillage farm, students can see farm-to-table in action. Itinerary for the schools include village tours, working with farm animals, kitchen crafting, and natural building. At this time of year, however, the focus is on harvesting in the vast village garden.
After a lesson in safe harvesting techniques, the children are gently pulling carrots, or scouting the 9-acre garden for a wide variety of fruits, veggies and nuts. The fresh-picked produce is then cleaned and brought inside for kitchen crafting at long tables, assembled so that everyone can participate. Apples and pears are cored and chopped, then juiced or perhaps constructed into a homemade crumble. Cucumbers are turned into juicy, garlicky dill pickles. All kinds of other vegetables and fruits that were collected by the school groups were used to make jams, jellies, syrups and chutneys by OUR kitchen team.
This past week SL² fired up the wood-burning cob oven at the Discovery School so that the children could make pizzas. The cob oven was built at the school this past Spring by the students aided by the SL² team. Tomatoes plucked from the garden were made into pizza sauce. While the children kneaded the dough, the team heated the oven. Raising the temperature of the cob oven takes a few hours, and then it maintains the perfect baking heat for several hours. The class lined up with their pizzas assembled and the SL² team put them in the oven to bake. As the students enjoyed their freshly-baked creations, the garden to plate cycle came full circle.
At OUR Ecovillage we are currently looking to enhance OUR ecological education and permaculture learning team, who are working with children and families. If you consider yourself as a great youth education facilitator and wish to consider joining OUR team – please come for a tour or drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-743-3067.