Rotary and community volunteers helping to put together the new school garden at John Muir Elementary.

Rotarians help John Muir elementary with new garden project

The garden will be implemented as part of the school's regular curriculum.

The Sooke Rotary Club is partnering up with John Muir elementary on a garden project that could reshape the school’s curriculum for years.

The 40X60-foot fenced garden will feature a number of raised beds, root and ground vegetables, fruit trees, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and insect friendly flowers.

In phase two of its construction, a greenhouse with instructional area, along with an irrigation system is due to be built.

“It’s a bit of everything,” said Rotarian Neil Flynn, who joined with other Rotarians, parents and volunteers to bring the garden to fruition.

“This group approached the Rotary for help, and we thought it was such a brilliant and important project, so we’ll provide as much help as we can,” he said.

Both parents and teachers will be involved in working with children in the garden as it becomes part of the school curriculum, with the idea to help encourage kids to eat healthy food and snacks.

In its layout, native plants will grow on the outside of the garden, while butterfly and bee gardens will be on the inside, interplanted with herbs and lavenders. On one side of the garden, an orchard will allow cultivation of fruits and edible flowers.

“We’ll try to keep the plants edible in some way, shape or form, whether it’s a leaf, root, flower or seed,” said Krista Myers, a parent who pitched the project to the Rotary.

Once the garden gets up to speed and production is high enough, Myers said they plan to support the Sooke Food Bank as well with anything grown there.

“This way, the kids can see the different ways of supporting their community,” she said. “They’ll be better prepared in their adult lives to raise some garden vegetables and eat better.”

She pointed out that they’ll try to pick varieties of seeds and plants that either produce really early, so that the kids can be there to see it happening, or produce later in the year like September or October.

So far, the garden is in phase one of construction, setting the beds up and the overall layout. During phase two, which is expected to begin this fall, Camosun College will send horticulture students to help install an irrigation system.

Once its initial stages are finished, Flynn hopes to see more garden projects like this at other schools, and that the community will support the initiative by donating garden tools.

“We’re looking to get support in any way we can, even if someone has a spare shovel they don’t need and they’re willing to donate it, so that there’s enough tools for kids to do things.”

For more info, please call the Sooke Rotary Club at 250-642-1108 or email info@sookerotary.com.