Every week local elementary school students are getting their hands dirty and helping those in need in the community of Langley, thanks to the unique program called Nature's Classroom.
Developed in partnership with Envision Financial, Maples Discovery Gardens Co-op and Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS), Nature's Classroom allows Grade 3-7 students to grow food for the Langley Food Bank while becoming stewards of the environment.
"Nature's Classroom provides students with a fantastic learning opportunity - promoting both environmental awareness and the importance of giving back to the local community," said Nikki Barrett, branch manager at Envision's Willoughby location.
"At Envision we are committed to promoting lifelong learning and greater environmental awareness in the community which is why we're proud to support this program for a second straight year," she said.
Through this unique program, Langley students in five classes selected from Langley Meadows, R.C. Garnett, Langley Fine Arts School, and Alex Hope Elementary schools will attend six workshops at Maples Discovery Gardens Co-op (located across from the Langley Events Centre on 200th Street) during a 12-week period that began in April and ends in June.
"Providing young students with the opportunity to learn about sustainability and the importance of caring for the environment is incredibly valuable," said Stephanie Captein of Langley Environmental Partners Society.
"We are so grateful for our partners - Envision Financial and Maples Discovery Gardens Co-op - for bringing this program to life."
As part of Nature's Classroom, local students plant their own vegetable gardens in plots at Maples, learn about soil and composting, discover the needs of plants and become master gardeners, and learn about the watershed they live in and the ecosystem of Latimer Creek (adjacent to the Maples Discovery Gardens Co-op).
They'll also attend a harvest celebration with teachers and volunteers at the program's conclusion.
The vegetables will be donated to the Langley Food Bank at the harvest celebration.
"It's great to see the Nature's Classroom students getting so involved and excited about growing vegetables," said Bruce Van Garderen of Maples Discovery Gardens Co-op. "The look on their faces when they see that first green shoot emerge from the soil is incredible."
The workshop lesson plans and activity sheets that have been developed for this program are available for educators to download, free of charge, from the Envision Financial (envisionfinancial.ca) and LEPS (www.leps. bc.ca) websites.