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LOVIN' THE EARTH: ONLINE RAFFLE
📅 SAVE THE DATE 

We're excited to launch our first ever online raffle on August 5! There is a great mix of prizes to be won which we will feature in our August newsletter and on social media, so stay tuned! 

Raffle tickets are sold:
1 for $10
3 for $25 
8 for $50

The funds from every ticket purchased go to further SPEC's work on climate change action and rebuilding our connection to Mother Earth.

Follow us on social media for a sneak peek into some of our prize packages!
Twitter 
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📸 Courtesy of  Gennifer Meldrum 

REFLECTIONS ON TEACHING GARDEN EDUCATION DURING A PANDEMIC 

By Sharlene Singh
(SPEC School Gardens Program Coordinator)


As another school year comes to a close, I'm  taking a moment to reflect on the last 10 months which was a year  unlike any other.  It offered many interesting challenges and opportunities  to engage students in an outdoor setting especially during an ever evolving pandemic.

Our School Gardens Program has been operating in schools for over 13 years, however this year saw an increased interest and inquiry into our program. 

We facilitated garden-based education with five schools which took a lot of thoughtful planning and execution, and made us re-evaluate how and why we teach. 

I've shared some of the key highlights I've witnessed and experienced.

Highlights:
  • In the past, time outdoors was spent primarily for play at recess, lunch and physical education. Now, students are slowly adapting to spending an increasing amount of time outdoors taking their art, science and other classes to this new space. 
  • Students are noticing their natural surroundings with greater detail; flowers in bloom, bees or insects and wildlife, building their curiosity for the natural environment. 
  • More teachers and schools are interested in using the outdoor space as a classroom.
  • Students' expressed fears of being near spiders, slugs, wasps and bees has dissipated through observation and spending time in the garden. 
  • Being inspired by observing students find the joy in planting a seed and watching it grow and trying to grow something they haven't ever eaten before like potatoes, herbs or edible flowers. 
While our students gained so much, there were many lessons I learned from teaching this school year:
  • You can't do it all, ask for help from others. 
  • Sometimes a lesson will take a whole different direction from what you had planned, and that is alright. Stop to talk about the crows and ravens, observe nature, watch the worms, listen to and enjoy the hummingbirds, when it's hot, have a mist party under the hose, and let  your students express their fears, joys and learnings to you through sharing. 
I would like to to thank our schools, teachers, students and administrators for supporting our food literacy and environmental education work this year. To our wonderful group of volunteers who were flexible, adaptable, engaging, kind and patient leading group activities in the garden - you are appreciated by myself and the students for all the care and time spent answering questions. 
 
Who knows how the next school year will take shape, however I do see an increased desire from educators to connect to this type of education more strongly and the tangible benefits it brought to both our students and teachers this school year. 

Students are empathetic and care about their natural environment and want to understand how they can help be makers of change; truly that's the blessing as a teacher to impart a little bit of knowledge like a seed, to water and tend to it, and see it grow, given the right nurturing for it to flourish in its own environment.
Learn More about School Gardens
FARM-TO-PLATE MARKETPLACE
Rethinking Our Food Systems 

By Christina Papadatos-Duponte 
(Farm-to-Plate Marketplace Manager)

In Canada, $8.11 billion worth of food is wasted every year at the distribution and retail stages of our food supply chain. This does not include unavoidable, byproduct waste (such as animal bones); this speaks strictly of avoidable food waste. 

When apples are bruised in transit to a retail site causing consumers not to purchase them, not only has this source of nourishment been spoiled, but all the energy gone into producing and transporting that food is lost too. Buying directly from farmers using a simple inventory management platform like Farm-to-Plate Marketplace reduces this preventable waste to zero. 

Farm-to-Plate Marketplace was created to address these inefficiencies and inequalities in urban food systems.Our goal is to connect small-scale food producers with urban consumer to make fresh, locally-grown food available to everyone. 

This initiative is the brainchild of Anthony Csikos, who in 2019 decided to attend SPEC's Food Team meeting to learn more about their work and share his passion and ideas for his pilot project. He received a lot of input, resources and support from community members including sourcing volunteers. Many had relationships with the farming community and Little Mountain Neighbourhood House (LMNH).

The work of Farm-to-Plate Marketplace is built on the following four pillars:Transparency, Traceability, Accessibility and Independence...

Farm-to-Plate Marketplace uses a pay-what-you-can model to make high quality, locally-grown food more accessible. At checkout, shoppers can pay the full price, add a donation, or use a subsidy. This gives the same dignified shopping experience to all users.  


To read the full blog post, make a donation or volunteer, please visit the link below. 
Read the Blog Post
📸 Image from Canva 

COMMUNITY EVENTS/WORKSHOPS

We're highlighting some great initiatives/groups in our community that are hosting online events, educational workshops and/or webinars occurring this month. 
📸 Image from Canva 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

We would like to thank the following organizations and businesses for their recent contributions to our programs.
 
  • Federal Government of Canada: Canada Summer Jobs Program  for funding support for the School Gardens Program and Textile Lab for Circularity. 
  • Canada Healthy Communities Initiative Program for the grant funding the Farm to Plate Marketplace  
  • To the School PACs that provided funding for our School Gardens Program for the 2020 - 2021 school year at various schools. 
SPEC MONTHLY TEAM MEETINGS 

We are always looking for new members! Our meetings have transitioned to a virtual meeting space. Meetings are open to the public and we encourage you to participate.

Our teams meet once a month to review projects, brainstorm project ideas and collaborate on new initiatives. The meetings are a great opportunity to network and engage with others that share the same values and passions in our community around food security, waste reduction, and sustainable energy and transportation. 

If you would like to contribute and join any of our upcoming meetings, please email volunteer@spec.bc.ca 

Food Team - Tues. July 13,  5:30 -7:00 pm
Waste Team - Wed. July 14, 6:30 - 8 pm 
Energy & Transportation Team - Wed.  July 21, 6 - 7:30 pm 
Upcoming Meeting Dates
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2305 West 7th Ave
Vancouver, BC V6K 1Y4
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Society Promoting Environmental Conservation - SPEC · 2305 West 7th Ave · Vancouver, BC V6K 1Y4 · Canada