The Lucerne Community Garden was established in 2008 with the help of a playground improvement grant. The garden design was a collaboration but was professionally polished by a local grandfather who was a landscape architect. A good number of student, parent and community volunteers helped bring in soil and sand to convert part of the old tennis court into a flower and vegetable garden. The central gazebo, beds and tool shed were built by locals with student assistance and the cob oven was a high school project.
On Earth Day 2008 we planted our first fruit trees with the help of our local ayor and a First Nations grandmother. Since then, we have added kiwi and grape vines, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries to outline the beds. Our berries are very popular with the children who can barely wait for them to ripen. Every year each grade grows a bed or two of annual vegetables and herbs. Some popular beds include borscht beds, grain beds, pumpkin patches, mushroom and herb beds, garlic and greens beds, rainbow beds and pizza beds. Annual and perennial flowers are scattered throughout the garden and make a great focus for pollinator studies.
The garden has become a big part of the curriculum and play time from pre-school through Grade 12. Students have the opportunity to learn science, math, social studies, art and social responsibility in the school garden. Students tend plants from seed to harvest, drying and processing. We spend extra time in the garden after school with students, parents and Strong Starters in our Green Thumbs garden club with fun and educational garden-based activities and lots of garden snacking!
The greenhouse was added to the Lucerne School grounds in 2012 with the help of retired teacher and HCS board member, Kevin Murphy. It has become another great outdoor classroom for students and community members. Grade 6/7 shop students built several large raised beds in the greenhouse which help with extending our growing season to almost 10 months a year.
-The greens, herbs and plentiful tomatoes and peppers from the greenhouse and garden provide spring and fall salad bar ingredients for the school lunch program for which we partner with the Healthy Community Society of the North Slocan Valley.
The greenhouse and garden programs and maintenance are sustained with the help of generous local funders, our partnership with the HCS and volunteers. Our garden manager connects with teachers in the spring and fall to plan, plant and learn in the garden and greenhouse. We focus on companion plants, bed rotations, seed saving, pollinators and much more. The preschoolers start the peas in the early spring and the high school foods class seed and harvest the tomatoes, peppers and greens.
Our local Harvest Festival is an annual community wide celebration that centres around the school garden harvest and clean up and various traditional activities from square dancing and pony rides, to apple pressing and a harvest display competition. Roughly 250 people of all ages come together for this event and share “stone soup” and bread from the cob oven for lunch.
The Lucerne garden and greenhouse have become a large part of our local school culture and add to a sense of place and belonging in our community.