Creston Valley school students are reaping the benefits of the Harvest Share program by getting out of the classroom and into fields, gardens and orchards.
“Most of the schools have participated and the kids are having a blast,” program co-ordinator Alexandra Dansereau said in a Canyon field last week.
Dansereau smiled as a gung-ho Adam Robertson Elementary School (ARES) student arrived at her pickup truck (the lease donated by Kokanee Ford) with yet another 50- or 60-pound box of potatoes. In the nearby field, more than 30 students, teachers and parent volunteers dug up plants and sifted through the soil to find the vegetables.
“This is great,” Dansereau laughed. “Usually I’m the one hauling the boxes!”
Produce from Harvest Share is donated by property owners, and a large portion goes to the Creston Valley Gleaners Society food bank and other agencies throughout the Creston Valley.
ARES principal Rod Giles says that Harvest Share participation helps students build values.
“Kids harvesting food for other people is directly in line with our emphasis on citizenship,” he said. “It gets them outdoors for their daily physical activity and it builds teamwork.
“Experiential learning is the most powerful learning tool for any child.”
More than that, he said, is the camaraderie that grows as students of different ages work along side parents and teachers.
“The kids have a good time, and that’s a pretty good benefit,” he said.
Dansereau provided an impressive list of student harvest activities.
ARES students had 52 Grade 6 and 7 students out on Sept. 20 to pick 860 pounds of pears and the Oct. 18 potato harvest brought in a total of 1,157 pounds of spuds.
In September, three classes from Yaqan Nukiy School, along with preschoolers, picked 650 pounds of pears and brought in 250 pounds of potatoes.
Fifty-five Canyon-Lister Elementary School students from Grades 5, 6 and 7 boxed up just short of a half-ton of potatoes.
On Oct. 17, as part of the school’s Community Involvement Day, 16 Prince Charles Secondary School students harvested 950 pounds of pears.
Youth involvement hasn’t stopped with school classes, either. Nine air cadets spent the afternoon of Oct. 18 picking 370 pounds of apples so they could make pies for fundraising. The also cleaned cull apples from the ground as a service and the culls will be used for livestock feed.
Finally, the Creston and District Public Library reading club kids got in on the act in August. Three groups of kids from six to 12 years of age washed and sorted culled cherries to get them ready for donation to needy people.
“Our sponsors this year are the province of British Columbia, Columbia Basin Trust, Creston-Kootenay Foundation and Kokanee Ford,” Dansereau said. “Without their generosity we wouldn’t have the Harvest Share program.”