Stephen Nicol, Langley Secondary science teacher, Amanda Smith, LEPS Agriculture Program coordinator, and Gary Jones, a Langley Sustainable Agriculture Foundation director and KPU faculty member have been involved in the new Learning Farm. (Nichole Marples/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Stephen Nicol, Langley Secondary science teacher, Amanda Smith, LEPS Agriculture Program coordinator, and Gary Jones, a Langley Sustainable Agriculture Foundation director and KPU faculty member have been involved in the new Learning Farm. (Nichole Marples/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Langley students already growing their knowledge at special learning garden

Langley Learning Farm project will teach high school students about agriculture and food security

The seed for the Langley Learning Farm was planted in the minds of the folks at the Langley Sustainable Agriculture Foundation and the Langley Environmental Partners Society at least three years ago.

Now the seed is growing. Construction has begun on the learning farm located at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum.

The Langley Learning Farm, located on parkland within the Agricultural Land Reserve, is a facility to demonstrate community-based food production skills, facilitate a student-led farm, and contribute to local food security.

Funding from the Farm Credit Canada AgriSpirit Award and the First West Foundation Community Endowment Fund has been secured, enabling groundbreaking.

“A partnership has been formed between the Langley Sustainable Agriculture Foundation (LSAF) holding the license agreement with the Township of Langley to utilize the land, and programming support provided by Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS),” according to LEPS’ executive director Nichole Marples.

At this point, the learning farm will be worked by nearby high school students. Grade 11 and 12 students from Langley Secondary School will go in small groups on a weekly basis to assist with project development and learn about soil and sustainability as part of an experiential learning Environmental Science course.

“he students began activity on the site in September,” she said. “The food grown will be donated to school food programs and social agencies.”

So far, 10 growing beds have been established and planted with overwintering crops, and a split rail fence is being erected. Fruit bearing hedgerow plants will be put in the coming month, and informational signage will be installed to inform public curiosity of the project as it develops.

“The Langley Learning Farm will continue to grow throughout 2021 and beyond, with the inclusion of a poly tunnel hoop house, which will help to extend the growing season, as well as provide shelter for educational programming on days of inclement weather,” Marples added.

The hope is that community pride will help the project flourish.

“As an open, publicly accessible farm site, just like a community garden, there is not much we can do to prevent theft or vandalism. We rely on the honour system and goodwill. The park gates are closed at dusk daily. The arboretum itself is quite well used, and we hope that park users will be our eyes and ears, reporting any theft or vandalism activity that they see,” Marples said.

The project has brought together various partners and supporters, including contributions from NATS Nursery, Linnaea Nursery and Seabreeze Farm.

“After a long time planning and discussing, we’re so looking forward to bringing a real hands-on experience to the students of Langley School District, in particular the first cohort of students from Langley Secondary School as we work together exploring the world of local food crop production, science and sustainability,” said Gary Jones, with the agriculture foundation and the Kwantlen Polytechnic University School of Horticulture. “In addition to funding and support from Farm Credit Canada and First West Foundation, Langley nurseries and growers have stepped up to provide plants and materials.”

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