By Martha Molls, ELL Teacher, Braemar Elementary
Nelly Callow, who teaches grade 6 late French Immersion, and I had wanted to build an outdoor learning space at Braemar to develop more place-based learning. In May, we decided to take on the space located above the kindergarten playground and develop it into a working garden for students.
Nelly had planted a few things last year with her students in the existing flowerbed, and I had taught Horticulture 8 in Coquitlam, so we had a vision of what the garden could be.
We received the go-ahead from administrators Sandy Singh and Cheryl Ham, and we met with the school district's Facilities and Maintenance team to help fine-tune and execute our plan.
Bringing the garden to life was a community effort. Students first had to learn about plants in order to pick out the varieties they wanted to plant in the beds. The PAC generously donated funds, and volunteers picked up soil from the transfer stations and prepped the raised beds we had purchased. Nelly and I contacted groups such as the Canadian Wildlife Federation, Seewhatgrows.org and Agriculture in the Classroom, who all donated seeds and plants. Many Braemar families also donated seeds and plants.
One of the highlights was the generous donation of 215 marigolds by a parent in memoriam of the children of residential schools. Grade 7 students planted these flowers with their teachers as a leaving project for the school.
Today, the Braemar garden consists of a pollinator garden and an Indigenous plant garden to support our school community work with the new curriculum, develop more inquiry around working with nature rather than against it, and understand how First Peoples used the plants available in our area.
The district team has provided new water access, and we have a watering sign with volunteers who are caring for the garden. With the school district's help, we will soon have fencing around the garden and more bark mulch added.
Right now, we have beans, beets, kale, strawberries, peas and all sorts of lettuce! It looks like we might have a pumpkin patch in the fall. As you can see from the photos, Braemar is blooming!