BC Green Games Guide #3: Gardening and Composting

Creating a school garden and learning about where food comes from are two important green actions your school can take on! There are so many benefits to creating and maintaining a school garden, both for students and the environment. You can also start a composting system within the school to directly help the school garden grow. A garden as small as one planter box, or as big as a greenhouse full of plants, will make an impact on students and the environment.


Why grow a garden?

Gardens are a great opportunity for students to get outside and learn hands-on how plants grow and why they are important. Plants play a key role in our ecosystem. More greenery on school grounds provides more resources and habitat for animals. For example, more flowers mean more nectar for pollinators which, in turn, help plants grow by spreading pollen. Grow a pollinator garden to help save the bees!


Plants also play an important role in removing carbon from the atmosphere via photosynthesis and filtering the air of other pollutants. Growing a variety of plants increases biodiversity. Plant vegetables and herbs so that students can taste, and learn about, healthy foods! Grow a garden solely comprised of native plants and learn how the First Nations use them. Growing a school garden is an excellent way to learn more about plants and their uses, and of course, to produce more locally grown food.


Why is it important to grow local food?

Producing locally grown food cuts down on food miles. Food miles are the distance food travels from producer to consumer, including the impact of the fossil fuels burned during transportation that contribute to climate change. Buying local food helps to reduce food miles and support local farms. Growing and eating our own food allows us to grow more sustainable, organic and healthy food. We also know exactly what we are eating and where it came from. These are all great concepts to learn about and act on by growing a school garden and using the food produced. Students get to taste organic food they grew and learn about better nutrition. They learn the value of the work that goes into growing food and learn teamwork skills.


What are the benefits of composting?

Composting is another simple project to take on, whether or not your school has a garden. A lot of food waste goes into the garbage bin and gets trucked to landfills, where it doesn’t break down properly. A lot of nutrients can be recycled by turning organic waste into compost fertilizer. Whether your school already has a green bin program or not, your school could make use of that organic waste for your school garden to really complete the circle of nutrient cycling. Students can learn about decomposition and the importance of worms. The teaching opportunities and hands-on learning for both gardening and composting are endless. We can’t wait to hear the stories of gardening and composting at your school that you share with BC Green Games this year!


Curriculum Connections

  • Plants and animals have observable features (K)
  • Daily and seasonal changes affect all living things (K)
  • Curiosity and wonder lead us to new discoveries about ourselves and the world around us (K)
  • Living things have features and behaviours that help them survive in their environment (1)
  • Observable patterns and cycles occur in the local sky and landscape (1)
  • Healthy communities recognize and respect the diversity of individuals and care for the local environment (1)
  • Living things have life cycles adapted to their environment (2)
  • Water is essential to all living things, and it cycles through the environment (2)
  • Local actions have global consequences, and global actions have local consequences (2)
  • Individuals have rights and responsibilities as global citizens (2)
  • Living things are diverse, can be grouped and interact in their ecosystem (3)
  • All living things sense and respond to their environment (4)
  • Indigenous knowledge is passed down through oral history, tradition and collective memory (4)
  • Indigenous societies throughout the world value the well-being of the self, the land, spirits and ancestors (4)
  • Earth and its climate have changed over geological time (7)
  • Organic chemistry and its applications have significant implications for human health, society, and environment (11)
  • Changing ecosystems are maintained by natural processes (11)
  • Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems (11)
  • Humans can play a role in stewardship and restoration of ecosystems (11)
  • Scientific processes and knowledge inform our decisions and impact our daily lives (11)
  • Complex roles and relationships contribute to diversity of ecosystems (11)
  • Sustainable land use is essential to meet the needs of a growing population (12)
  • Living sustainably supports the well-being of self, community, and Earth (12)
  • Urbanization is a critical force that shapes both human life and the planet (12)
  • Human activities alter landscapes in a variety of ways (12)
  • And more!


Core Competency – Social Responsibility

Contributing to community and caring for the environment:

  • I contribute to group activities that make my classroom, school, community or natural world a better place.
  • I can identify how my actions and the actions of others affect my community and the natural environment and can work to make positive change.
  • I can analyze complex social or environmental issues from multiple perspectives. I can take thoughtful actions to influence positive, sustainable change.


Sustainable Development Goals

2 – Zero hunger

3 – Good health and well-being

15 – Life on land


Resources and Potential Community Coaches

BC Agriculture in the Classroom – programs and resources

Canadian Wildlife Federation – WILD Spaces Program

Compost Education Centre – school programs

Evergreen – lesson plans

Food miles

Farm to School BC – resources, grants

Healthy Eating at School

Jane Goodall Institute of Canada – Roots & Shoots Program

Leap Into Action: Environmental Action Guide

Life Cycles – Growing Schools gardens in Victoria

Other Garden Grant opportunities

Plant a Seed & See What Grows

Science World Resources – worm composting

Society Promoting Environmental Conservation – school resources

The Classroom Gardener – Megan Zeni