Guest blog: Growth of tower gardens in the Langley School District
September 11, 2019
By: Carole Chang, Public Health Dietitian &
Tamira Burton, Healthy School Nurse
The Langley School District Foundation, in partnership with Fraser Health and the Langley School District, is supporting several Langley schools to grow fruit and vegetables. Tower gardens have been purchased and are providing fresh produce to supplement the breakfast, lunch and snack programs to students.
It all started two years ago with a tiny seed – a dream that no students in the Langley School District would come to school hungry. One of the innovative solutions by the School District Foundation was to install tower gardens. These aeroponic gardens allow year-round growing of fresh fruits and vegetables for students.
The idea took root initially in four schools with a total of nine tower gardens being made possible with support from Vancity. Students have been learning to grow fruit and vegetables. The food grown in these gardens is a fresh and healthy addition to the schools’ food programs. Two of the tower gardens are located inside a school cafeteria to raise awareness of the importance of healthy eating.
Reports have shown that most children do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. Recognizing that tower gardens provide students with access to fresh fruits and vegetables, this year the Foundation partnered with Fraser Health to get support from Farm to School BC for three more tower gardens for Langley elementary schools.
As each tower garden springs up in the schools, the students get to experience the full growth cycle of fruits and vegetables.
This growing project highlights the important work that is being done through community collaboration. Working together with Fraser Health, the Foundation and the School District aim to improve the health and wellbeing of students by creating a healthy school environment.
Bountiful crops such as lettuce, kale, spinach, cucumbers, zucchini, strawberries, and herbs are being grown in the tower gardens. Due to the shortened growing cycle and regular harvesting, students can enjoy fresh produce throughout the school year. For example, some of the produce has been made into strawberry and kale smoothies for breakfast, baked kale chips for snacks, or garden salads for lunch. The possibilities are endless!
Langley schools are wonderful environments for raising healthy eaters and building connections between healthy eating and food literacy. Each tower garden in the Langley School District creates hands-on learning opportunities as well as fresh food for students. The students are eager and ready to learn. It is well known that healthy students are better learners and better educated students are healthier.