Imagine a simple growing machine that reaps bushels of produce every six weeks.
It requires no soil, no land, very little water and virtually no maintenance. Forget weeding, insecticides or contaminates. Don’t worry about drought, extreme cold or any kind of climatic conditions.
And consider that all of it grows with an environmental footprint about the size of a ladybug wing.
In fact, the overall impact is expected to be nothing but positive as more than 3,000 Langley students who come to school hungry every day are given access to fresh, healthy vegetables and berries.
With the help of Vancity, Langley School District Foundation has purchased nine vertical gardens to be installed in four schools.
Beginning in September the gardens will produce vast quantities of lettuce, kale, herbs, spinach, tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, zucchini, strawberries and perhaps beets, carrots, potatoes and everything from yams to parsnips.
Students will learn to grow their own food. Tasting it right from the vine, they will be better able to appreciate the nutrition and contribution to the environment, said Susan Cairns, executive director of the Langley School District Foundation.
The development of a culture of sustainable consumerism and an appreciation for what nature provides is expected to be another positive side effect of the gardens.
The produce will be used to supplement the dozens of breakfast, snack, lunch and backpack programs that make up the Langley School District Foundation’s Food for Thought Campaign, a program that helps feed hungry school children.
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Four years ago the foundation began hearing about students who were coming to school hungry.
“We did a survey of all our 47 schools and discovered that 3,000 of our 19,000 students were actually coming to school without having had breakfast and with no lunch,” said Cairns.
“This was astonishing and disturbing and we knew that if these hungry students didn’t get help, they would miss out on the education to which they are entitled.
“No student can learn on an empty stomach. The hungry growls are much louder than the voice of an educator.
“We had to do something.”
That was when the foundation initiated its breakfast, lunch, snack and backpack programs. Beginning in September, that program will be taken to new heights.
“Now, thanks to Vancity and other supporters we able to introduce the vertical garden initiative – the final component of the Food for Thought Campaign,” said Cairns.