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Victoria High students dig in to build a bigger school garden

A school garden at Victoria High School has tripled in size, thanks to a group of volunteers who spread a load of leaf mulch Friday to extend the dimensions. Vic High’s garden is one of several school gardens in the Greater Victoria school district.
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Victoria High School students spread leaf mulch as they expand the school garden on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017.

A school garden at Victoria High School has tripled in size, thanks to a group of volunteers who spread a load of leaf mulch Friday to extend the dimensions.

Vic High’s garden is one of several school gardens in the Greater Victoria school district.

Students and staff were part of the volunteer effort that has expanded the garden to 45 metres by 15 metres, but it will take time for the new area to be ready for planting.

“You have the leaf mulch and manure under a tarp and let it cook,” said Aaren Topley of the Farm to School organization.

A grand opening will take place in the spring.

A big part of the project will be forming partnerships with the surrounding community, Topley said, noting that the intention is to grow produce for both the school and people living nearby.

“We want to let the neighbours know they have a really cool garden in their backyard.”

The garden got going in September 2015 and was soon a source of fresh produce for the school’s lunch program and salad bar.

Carrots, lettuce and herbs have all been part of the harvest.

The school district has supported the garden project, and recent funding has come from the likes of Whole Foods, Farm to School B.C. and Farm to Cafeteria Canada. Farm to School B.C. promotes hands-on learning about food issues for students, while Farm to Cafeteria Canada aims to educate people to help bring healthy food to public institutions.

One key to the project is assistance from nearby Mason Street Farm, an urban farm where the motto is “education through cultivation.”

The quarter-acre site in the North Park area is on a plot of land that has been cultivated for more than 25 years.

jwbell@timescolonist.com