It’s a playground you can really sink your teeth into.
An edible school yard is sprouting at the Waldorf School in east Edmonton. Volunteers descended on the space Sunday to fill garden beds with soil and install log seating for an outdoor classroom.
The students will get a hands-on education in local food systems while cultivating the yard.
The school yard will be a far cry from the generic grass and asphalt at most schools, said Kenton Zerbin, project coordinator and edible landscaping educator.
“It’s about turning a space that doesn’t have a whole lot of function, other than for kids to run around, into a space that the kids can grow from, learn from and eat from,” he said.
Sunday’s work included planting roughly 50 trees and shrubs. The students will eventually learn to tap syrup from the Maple and Birch trees and harvest the small vitamin C packed berries from the Sea Buckthorn trees.
Zerbin said there’s a gap in the current curriculum when it comes to educating students about food systems and sustainability.
“It’s supposed to prepare you for life. But a lot of people leave the school system without knowing a whole lot about food,” he said.
There will also be lessons about canning and preserving food — fruitful information considering Alberta’s long winters.
The space also doubles as a community garden for the surrounding neighbourhood.
“It’s critical we have food in our environments again and around our homes. It’s the best way to get it, the closest way to get it, the most ethical way to get it and the healthiest,” Zerbin said.
Marsha Shack, a volunteer, said she’s always keen to lend a hand on a permaculture project when the opportunity crops up in Edmonton.
“I think it’s the community. It’s bringing people together and getting people’s hands dirty and getting them to reconnect with the land and each other.”