Connecting youth with nature in Qualicum Beach

Community members and local groups come together to educate children on local food and gardening

Madeleine Dwyer is working on the Qualicum School Sustainability Project this summer

Madeleine Dwyer is working on the Qualicum School Sustainability Project this summer

A new project in Qualicum Beach aims to give local youth and children a deeper understanding of their food and the natural world.

The Qualicum School Sustainability Project is the brainchild of local farmer and vice president of the Qualicum Beach Farmers Market Society, Ron Campbell.

Sustainability advocate and Vancouver Island University student Madeleine Dwyer has also been heavily involved in the project.

To date she has been a volunteer, and recently returned from a course near Bella Bella combining traditional indigenous knowledge with science to effectively manage resources.

Thanks to a Canadian government summer student program grant, Dwyer has now been hired to work on the sustainability project full time during July and August, and she and Campbell have a number of initiatives they are looking to cultivate.

“We both have visions of connecting kids more to their surroundings, to nature,” she said. “And to have a better understanding of how their food system actually works.”

Dwyer is currently majoring in First Nations studies at VIU.

So far Dwyer has been doing work in the Kwalikum Secondary School food garden and is also making preparations for a “massive garden” at that school which will include a greenhouse, a Japanese garden, and many other features. This summer she will help install the fence around the new garden and prepare it for the fall.

A number of local business and community members have stepped up with donations and volunteer hours to build the new garden, Dwyer said, and more materials and equipment would be appreciated to help keep the garden running.

At Qualicum Beach Elementary School she will help with a fence around the school’s alphabet garden and she has plans to work on gardens at the other schools around the area.

Dwyer will be working with international students from Japan and China at KSS this summer, getting them out in the garden and local forests, and visiting sites like a local maple syrup farm and the Deep Bay Marine Field Station.

She’ll teach them “market gardening” (how to grow food to sell) including visits to the Qualicum Beach Farmer’s Market. Dwyer is also working with the Qualicum Beach museum on a native plant garden.

She is also currently developing a plan for a hands-on sustainability course for KSS. This will be an independent directed study course, where students pursue their own interests with mentorship from the school. And she has many other ideas involving the local schools.

“I’d love to start  a tradition with KSS where every grad class gets to plant some sort of fruit tree or fruit plant,” she said.

Down the road she and Campbell would like the program to develop eco tourism opportunities, creating food and cultural tours that will work with and employ First Nations, youth and young adults.

Dwyer will return to her studies at VIU in the fall, but will continue volunteering with the program and managing the new large garden at KSS.

If anyone would like to donate gardening materials, old or new, from lawnmowers to seeds, contact Dwyer at madeleinedwyer@gmail.com.

Four Winter Gardening sessions starting this month at KSS by a local master gardener and horticulture expert will benefit the Qualicum School Sustainability Project.

Connie Kuramoto will teach people how to harvest vegetables all winter long from their gardens.

July 23 will be the first session: Building the Soil for a Winter Garden and  on July 30, Planning and Planting the Winter Garden.

On August 6 learn Crop Protection for the Winter Garden and on August 13, Greenhouses for the Winter Garden will take place.

All sessions run from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

For more information visit www.gardensonthego.net.

Just Posted

The Lighthouse Country Marine Rescue Society will get more funding from the Regional District of Nanaimo. (Submitted Photo)
More PQB communities to fund Lighthouse Country Marine Rescue Society

RDN to introduce amendment to service bylaw contribution

A slide on best practices when reporting a suspected impaired driver that was presented to Parksville city council on June 7 by Margarita Bernard, a volunteer with MADD. The organization’s Report Impaired Drivers campaign involves the installation of informative signs within the City of Parksville. (Mandy Moraes photo)
MADD brings campaign to report impaired drivers to Parksville

Aim is to raise awareness that 911 should be called

Pam Bottomley (executive director), right and Sandy Hurley (president) of the Parksville Downtown Business Association visit the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Downtown Parksville gears up for post-pandemic bounce back

Podcast: Hurley, Bottomley chat about what’s ahead for the PDBA

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The discovery of a missing woman’s body in Nanaimo earlier this month is now being treated as homicide, say Nanaimo RCMP. (File photo)
Discovery of woman’s body in downtown Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

Amy Watts was found dead near Albert Street and Victoria Crescent on June 3

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

The Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society, which has been operating a treatment centre on land leased from the Nanoose First Nation for 35 years (pictured), has begun a fundraising campaign to open a new centre near Duncan. (Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society photo)
New residential school healing centre to be built near Duncan

$5-million Indigenous treatment centre will help survivors of residential schools heal

Two Lotto Max tickets sold on Vancouver Island were winners, though nobody won the $70-million jackpot in Tuesday’s draw. (BCLC image)
Vancouver Island lottery players win $1 million and $500,000 in Lotto Max draw

$1 million ticket sold in Campbell River, $500,000 ticket sold in Nanaimo

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Most Read