Harvest Season

Monday, October 14, 2019 - By: Sarah R, Mackenzie ‘20

Unbeknownst to most students, Brentwood has a school garden just a five minute walk away from the school gates. In the past, it has been used minimally, and while it has served those who spend time in it well, it is an area of great unexploited potential.

This year, however, Mr McCarthy collaborated with some members of the Brentwood Environmental Action Team, with the goal of creating a team of students who will take the initiative to develop the garden. Mr McCarthy is a firm believer in the benefits that the garden could reap for students and the community alike, and is “excited to see where the project goes”. While it is a bit overrun and neglected right now, with some dedicated work, the garden could easily become something wonderful.

The team’s first brainstorming session brought forth a plethora of purposes that a flourishing school garden could fulfil. Countless anecdotes and studies have proven the therapeutic and relaxing benefits of working in gardens; in the busy and sometimes stressful Brentwood way of life, an hour a week spent working outdoors could provide an ideal method of promoting the wellness of all who spend time in it. Secondly, in alinement with the BEAT initiative of beehive building and educating about honeybees, the garden could be used as an ideal location to plant pollinator-friendly flowers. The AP Environmental Science course has used the garden in the past as a resource for student-run ecological and biological experiments. With further development, the garden could easily provide opportunities for more hands-on learning and experimentation.

Sierra R, a youth climate activist and permaculture teacher in the Cowichan Valley, came to help the group develop ideas for where this project could take us. From exploring permaculture principles to discussing food forests, companion planting, and hydroponics systems, Sierra says the garden has “lots of potential” to become something great. Aside from being a pollinator, wellness, and learning garden, of course, there is also plenty of potential for food production. With unanimous approval, all the students on the team agreed that one of our main initiatives should be growing as much fresh food as we can to donate to the local Cowichan Valley Foodbank.

With this goal in mind, we met last Sunday for an orientation of the garden for those who had not seen it before. Noticing the abundance of ripe apples and tomatoes waiting to be harvested, we wasted no time in picking them. After just an hour, the eight of us had managed to harvest a wheelbarrow full of apples for the foodbank, pick a small bag of fresh tomatoes, as well as pull out dead plants and weeds, clear some brush, and do some general clean up of the garden area. Ainsley K, Hope ‘21 is an enthusiastic member of the core garden team. She commented that it was “really nice to be working in the garden,'' as she has a big garden at home, and while at Brentwood has missed working in it.

In the coming months, we look forward to transforming the garden space into an amazing learning space, and preparing it for planting in the spring, to generate wellness for us, and food for those in our community who might otherwise go without.

Sarah R, Mackenzie ‘20

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