KevinTV

Permaculture, Meet High School

07.15.11

I’ve long looked at vast school grounds, wondering how much food could be produced if there was will. I’ve had friends try to climb that hill to no avail, primarily falling apart on concern for maintenance and who’s going to do the work. Like many things in the food world, perhaps it just took some scale – Jasper Place High School being one of, if not the biggest in western Canada at 2400 students. Maybe it’s just time.

I first noticed Dustin on Twitter, tweeting about permaculture projects at a local high school. After a few months, I figured I should get over there with a camera and see  what he’s up to. So I did.

Turns out they’ve built themselves a food forest in a courtyard along with various setups of self watering raised beds, muck about with aquaponics, and have a greenhouse built a half century ago that may now be put to some good use [again?]. They’re producing food for students, engaging youth in food related issues and providing hands-on experience with plants. They’re sheet mulching and rainwater capturing their way to a more environmentally and socially responsible future generation. Permaculture in high school. I grew up in the wrong decade.

8 Responses

  1. Dustin Bajer says:

    Thanks for coming by and checking out the program, Kevin! It was a pleasure to have you and to receive such a great write up/video on your blog.

    Dustin Bajer
    Jasper Place (High School) Permaculture

    http://permaculture.jasperplace.ca
    http://twitter.com/#!/JP_Permaculture

  2. Judy Z. says:

    It is great that they are doing this at the high school and have the culinary portion of the school involved also.
    I appreciated the identification of some of the plants. It helped me to identify some of the plants that are growing in Lisa and Allan’s yard. I would like to find a source for the dock which he indicated is a perenial salad green. Sounds like a great thing to have in you yard.

  3. Kevin says:

    Dustin – you’re welcome!
    Judy – I got my bloody dock from Gwen at Inspired Market Gardens [They're at the City Market]. I should pop by their yard and see if I can give you [them a hand].

  4. I’m also struck by the wasted space every day when I walk my daughter to school. There is a spot about 30×100 feet on the east side of her school that is just lawn. The kids can’t play there (due to sightlines) during recess and the janitor has scared most of them off from even walking on it after school.

    Allowing for drought spacing of potatoes, you could still get about 120 plants in there. That would yield 700 or so pounds of potatoes (at a guess, assuming nothing bad happens). Could be tied into the social studies (social justice, agricultural history) and science (life cycle of a plant) curriculum. All it needs is a rototilling and manuring this autumn and a planting next spring, with periodical hoeing.

  5. Judy Z. says:

    I am sure Lisa and Allanwould appreciate any input you can give them re what is growing there. They have a lot of work ahead of them. I ‘m sure they would love to be joining the mushroom forays as well.

  6. SherryGreens says:

    This is a fantastic program. I would love to see this sort of thing get going at my local school here in Edmonton. The children are our future, we need to reconnect them with food and with nature! My hope is that trailblazers like Dustin will inspire others to follow in his footsteps. There is so much to learn in planting a garden, so much about science and photosynthesis and agriculture… Most of all kids need to realize that food grows from the ground, it comes from the earth, and does not just appear in a box at the supermarket.

    My kids starts kindergarten this September, I might just ask some questions to see where this could lead…

  7. Dustin Bajer is my new hero! He needs to get an award for teaching as teaching should be. There are others, but not so many as there could be. I have already written to him. Thank you for using your space as the conduit to all things wonderful in the food world. I was salivating. This is exactly what I tried to get going at the middle school my last two years there – but, though my principal was supportive, there wasn’t any funding available or this kind of a space. Obviously, I was not as tenacious, knowledgeable, or as energetic as Dustin! Well done!
    :)
    Valerie

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