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Urban garden in downtown Victoria sparks innovation among students

Supporting sustainability and pollinators among the intentions for project
Student Kai Stevenson (left) and teacher Jen Lowe tend to the garden near the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry as spring descends upon Victoria. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)

Food sustainability and beautifying urban spaces are important to those at the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry.

Students and teachers built a garden in the Union Club parking lot adjacent to the downtown Victoria school last spring, and they’re ready to bring it back to life over the next couple of weeks as the weather brightens.

The space was previously an invasive blackberry patch – but students and teachers tackled it together to create an urban garden where growing food and tactile learning can be found now and for generations to come.

Teacher Andrew Murgatroyd said he was inspired by fellow teacher Jen Lowe to steward the project alongside her and their students.

“To get learners outside and doing physical activities outside of a closed-door classroom space felt really good in terms of getting fresh air, working outside and decreasing risks of being in enclosed spaces,” Murgatroyd said. “It has been a great success; last year we won a prize from Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s student innovation challenge for the most innovative student project.”

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Student Kai Stevenson, 17, said his family has a garden and he has worked on other community gardens in the past, but working on the project from the beginning has been an incredible learning opportunity.

“Seeing it turn from a pile of rubble into what it is now, the opportunities it’s given in terms of connections to other learners and the tangential learning – such as woodworking – has been great,” said Stevenson.

He hopes to take what he’s learned from the hands-on experience and carry it forward when he attends the University of Victoria in the fall for social sciences.

Lowe said the project couldn’t have been done without donations of plants and soil, building materials and other supplies. They’re hoping for donations from the community again this year as the garden reawakens and tending by the students continues.


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