Kids Can Cook from the Garden is true and thanks to teacher Shirley Low more kids can follow suit. Low started the process of planning and building a community garden at John Allison School with the help of a group of ambitious and knowledgeable volunteers in 2008. By June 23 of 2009, the community garden was celebrating its opening day with all its many contributors of brawn, brain, money and goods present.
Now it is Nov. 2011 and the garden has become such a success that Low is taking her community success global. Both Shirley and her husband Wah Fee are avid photographers and have spent hours over the last four years photographing and documenting the progress of the garden from dirt piles and concrete blocks to flowers and vegetables. Those beautiful photographs are interspersed throughout the new magnificent garden book the Low’s have recently published.
Kids Can Cook from the Garden is a lesson in kids can do anything with the right teacher and motivation. Low has been an inspiration to the school, community and her students with her “We can do it” attitude from the minute the idea of a community garden entered her head. In spite of her own lack of gardening experience (by her own admission), Low recruited volunteers and financial aid by grant writing. Her positive attitude had businesses and community groups like Princeton Rotary, Weyerhaeuser, Irly Bird, Grgich Contracting, Hayes Creek Electrical, Kevin Acres and more happily pitching in with cheques and garden building supplies.
Low has turned all this positive into a book that is getting rave reviews from those who have had the good fortune of perusing the pages. The book walks readers through the many phases of construction and planting that led up to the outdoor classroom the students presently enjoy. Besides diagrams and instructions on the community garden there are pages and pages of photos of the kids enjoying their garden bounty and recipes. The recipes are from parents, helpers, staff and students. The recipe collection includes Salad Greens and Herbs, The Big Salad Recipe, Salad Dressings, Beets, Potatoes & Carrots, Peas & Beans, Cucumber, Zucchini & Tomatoes, Pumpkin & Squash, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower $ Brussels Sprouts, Garden Berries, Orchard Apples & Rhubarb, First Nations Recipes, Family Feast and Harvest Celebration.
The book also provides valuable knowledge on the whole process of garden building. There is a section on saving seeds, another on butterfly gardens, composting and bed designs. From start to finish, the book is a treasure. Photos of the students with dirty hands and smiling faces tell the real story of the garden’s success.
“The book showcases how the community came together with the school to create a wonderful garden project,” said Shirley Low. “It was our goal to promote healthy eating. The next step after creating the space was to learn how to prepare food for healthy eating. The book is a gardening guide and cookbook – the how-tos of planting and harvesting with advice on everything we did along the way. Recipes let us reap the rewards of our bounty.”
Using her keen sense of smell to sniff out a yet another grant for her book, Low forged boldly ahead again. Ed May at BCTF delivered the good news to Low through a social justice grant. The grant pays for four copies of the book for the school and Vermilion Forks School principal Mr. Clarke is ordering one for the library there as well.
The 160 page full colour masterpiece is a documentary of community success in every respect. Kids can Cook from the Garden is available for viewing at the John Allison School office or online at www.blurb.com/bookstore. John Allison School is accepting orders for Kids can Cook until Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 for the Christmas season. Order forms can be picked up at the school office or at the Spotlight. The soft cover price is $50 and the hard cover price is $65. The book is not a fundraiser and the price is just to cover the publishing cost.