School Name: Nakusp Secondary
School District: SD#10 Arrow Lakes
Inquiry Team Members:firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology
Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Experiential learning, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Increase student enjoyment of fruits and vegetables through continued involvement with the BC School Fruit & Vegetable Program and grow indoor herb and micro-greens via the use of Sun Blaster lights.
Scanning: A number of students know about gardening, a few families do garden regularly in the spring, but for the most part, few engage in any gardening practices at all. A number of students enjoy using herbs in our Home Economics Foods cooking labs but have not used fresh herbs before. Some eat salads, but it is not their preferred choice.
Focus: A high proportion of our students are in vulnerable situations for a variety of reasons, and this type of a project inclusively envelopes everyone to plant, water, trim, and taste. As B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom states, such a project allows for “direct connections to Food Science Home Economics curriculum, along with cross-curriculum connections to Life Skills, Science, Art, Social Studies, and Sustainable Resources. Growing their own food connects students more deeply to agriculture and the larger world, giving them a deeper understanding of food security …. it allows teachers to take the classroom outdoors, giving them resources and tools to initiate a school garden as a long-term project.”
Hunch: We have motivated groups of learners who can self-engage in a variety of content, have a strong growth mindset, and have an ability to advocate for other students’ need for food sustainability. Students do not always have the access to resources or opportunities for collective engagement, so this inquiry is meant to allow for more of this to occur. Enjoying fresh basil directly in their sauces and tasting the difference was a goal.
New Professional Learning: Our school is in the process of building an outdoor greenhouse, so this small scale indoor garden helped us learn how we may be able to assist in a larger scale process. Long term experiential learning goals with a variety of teachers and students is a personal goal to improve in. It creates “an interdisciplinary learning experience … less compartmentalized … that mimics real world learning … aligned with the constructivist theory of learning that the outcomes of the learning process are varied …” Wurdinger (2005), in Schwartz (2012)
Taking Action: This activity worked well with the topics: nutrition, healthy eating, the new Canada Food Guide, using herbs in cooking, and juicing with vegetable and greens. Students discovered that setting up the proper soil-water balance before planting the seeds took the longest time. Their first planting of a few trays did not work because it was to dry to begin with. From there they discovered that we started watering too much. Then at one point they were very happy that their seeds had sprouted. Soon they tried tasting watercress – something only 2 had tasted before, and then enjoyed basil.
Checking: The largest difference was students who seldom eat green vegetables or a fresh herb tried something new. Some of the students who were not motivated, actually got motivated in this, and are looking forward to participating in the larger greenhouse project. A few Science and Outdoor Ed students were able to utilize some plants in their projects.
Student responses were: “It encourages you to eat more healthy or start a garden of your own, it’s not that hard, you get to see the progress of plants, you get to use fresh basil in sauce, watercress is actually very spicy, it needs so much watering, it’s already ready for re-seeding, and I like the basil but not the wheat grass.” “If I were to grow something else it would be: tomatoes, corn, kale, strawberries, cabbage, chocolate beans, apples, potatoes, berries, asparagus, flowers, peas, hot peppers, sunflowers.”
Reflections/Advice: If the logistics of a larger scale project are difficult, then something right in the classroom can still be beneficial. Visit your local greenhouse and hardware store for lights, reflectors, trays, and soil. They take little electricity and they work great! We look forward to planting more herbs in separate trays, such as oregano, chives, mint for tea, etc. and snipping them fresh while cooking, similar to the chefs on the Food Network. The oregano and mint would not be beneficial in a large scale greenhouse as they can get invasive, so a tray indoors for cooking will work well.