Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thank You!

Au Revoir Salt Spring Coffee!

Mucho Gracias Toyota Evergreen Foundation!

All kindergarten students got to plant their first ‘winter crop’ – flower bulbs!
These were bulbs needing to go to good homes leftover from the Grade 7 fundraiser so it bookended the classes nicely.  Thanks to PAC for paying for the bulbs!

When it’s sunny - pruning, pruning and more pruning as we put the gardens to rest for the winter with their blanket of leaves.  The leaves provide habitat for healthy garden life and protect bulbs and roots from frost. Thanks to Mr. Smathers help with raking!

We have several more winter grains to plant.  We have donated soil waiting.  We have permission to place two of the planter boxes Wolfe students built with Ms. Ingram last year.  We have had a representative from the VSB Grounds Department as well as a School Trustee come to the school lately.  We have hired a landscape architect who will draw up some more useful plans for the garden area by the annex.  We hope to present these plans at a future PAC meeting.

Hats off to Salt Spring Coffee – they have generously supported the Green Team and the gardening initiatives at the school.  We will miss them on Main Street, but are grateful for their ongoing financial support towards helping educate children about environmental practices. 

We have also completed our Toyota Evergreen School Greening Grant Report.  We received funds to buy tools, plants, materials and get expert help.  Many Thanks!

Here's a great link about healthy schools, playgrounds and learning...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Grounds Committee Meeting
November 8th 7pm at Julia's
To discuss:  future garden plans, grants, VSB Grounds Plans, Evergreen Foundation, winter crops, making a presentation about 'playgrounds' for the larger Wolfe Parent community.

Salt Spring Coffee - we would not have been able to have such great work parties without the financial assistance to buy multiple tools to get the jobs done faster, and with a sense of community.

Master Gardeners Association of British Columbia
We added up the total Volunteer Hours for General Wolfe Elementary Garden activities - its 300 adult hours with at least 150 student involvement hours - not including Green Team!  That's at least a 500 hour since January 2012 project!!!!!  If we are considered as a Community Project, we would be able to get Master Gardeners to come and help us with their advice and teaching in the future!  Yay!

Note:  this was not a posed photo, really - it was everyone stopping for a moment after scrambling to get the last of the huge pile in the back naturalized classroom area.  Well done, everyone!

One Dump Truck Done!

Thanks to Shera, Lisa, Steve, Ben, Nina, Amber, Tamara and... a special appearance by... the SUN!!!!
The last load from the dump truck was spread in afternoon sunshine in just over an hour on Sunday.  Lots of cyclists and dog walkers stopping to chat and some to thank us for making the Ontario Bikeway  beautiful.

Where did all the shovels go?  Anyone seen the rake?  Oh!  They've turned into Nimbus 2000's and the CleanSweep Swift and are now part of a real life Harry Potter flying broom race :-)  Oh well, the garden can wait...
Let's hope the sunflowers seed themselves again - we've only planted this boulevard once with a few seedlings grown in classrooms yet every year many plants bloom from the seeds that have fallen... seed dispertion on a small scale!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dig In!

Saturday October 13th 
Sunday October 14th
4pm - 6pm

Garden Committee Members will be at the school helping direct compost mulch distribution!

We are augmenting the soil so it stays healthy and can grow plants.

Bring your wheelbarrows, shovels, pruners, tarps if you have them.

Monday, October 1, 2012

...and we love artwork!
inside the school 
and outside at Harvest Festival on Main Street!

Gardening is inspiring!  And it brings people together (see below :-) 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Spread the News! Spread the Mulch!

Compost Mulch Work Party!

October 12
October 13
October 14

Bring your shovels!
Bring your wheelbarrows!
Bring your muscles!

We will be having a wheely good time helping the gardens.

What is compost mulch?
Compost mulch is the broken down organic matter from your yard waste bins 
that the City of Vancouver has turned into nourishment for your garden.

This will help provide shade for roots, amend the soil so that more microorganisms can find a home there, which in turn will make more nutrients available to plants.  It also makes the soil have good texture and water retention.  Adding compost mulch to the 10 City of Vancouver Green Street Boulevards will help during dry summers as the soil is quite sandy.

In the back area, the naturalized playspace sits on hardpan - if you have ever tried to put a shovel in the back field, it is super super hard.  By adding a layer (it should be done every few years and we did it in Spring 2010) it will help keep the soil healthy for the plants.

IF you dig it, email and we'll let you know what time of day most people are going to meet - it's much more fun working as a group.

Thanks to Julia Stewart and Dawn Dunkerley who will be our representatives at the annual Green Streets Celebration on October 14th at VanDusen Botanical Garden.  Plant swap, prizes, its a city wide celebration of over 500 gardens that we are a part of.  There is a book in our library celebrating this gardening initiative that has been studied as an international success story!  You go girls :-)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Persistent Plants! (and people :-)

Look for the Teddy Bear Sunflower - only 12 inches high in the planter boxes by the teachers parking lot... fuzzy and soft, this plant is a hit with the youngest students, who planted the seeds in their classroom last spring.

Also - a Velvet Queen Sunflower - burgundy in colour - has wound its way around to bloom in the annex garden area by the sidewalk - despite having its roots under the overhang (= no rain water!)

And the hollyhocks are going to seed... we grew these from seed 2 years ago and they had stalks over 6 feet tall!  We now have enough seed to plant 100's more.

THANK YOU to all the Watering Families this summer - a special gift will find its way to you to thank you for helping the gardens grow.  Without you, there would be no BEEs visiting our schoolgrounds and no flowers to welcome the students, teachers and staff back.  Many Thanks.  By everyone doing a few days or a week or a little bit, we managed to take care of the gardens all summer long.  Bravo!

"helping hands get things done; half the work and twice the fun"

Purple Potatoes - Locally Grown!

Harvest Time!
Ms Pegg's Grade 1's (now Grade 2's!) dug up 5 varieites of potatoes to take home.  They can eat purple mashed potatoes, russian fingerling roasted potatoes, baked yukon gold potatoes or even potato chips or french fries depending on how creative the family cook is!
We even gave Ms Jamieson and Ms Thomas (our new Vice Principal) a sample of our harvest.

Now that's locally grown :-)

Thanks to Libby and Julia and Lisa who made this happen for the students!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Welcome Back!

Look Up!  Look way up....!
The lovely mobile hanging in the front stair hallway in front of the doors facing Ontario Street say Welcome in many languages...  Be sure to join us for the Welcome Back BBQ in the annex courtyard. Thursday September 6th 5-7pm  :-)

Wasp Architects Be Gone!

One Brave Dad at Dusk took on a hive discovered the day before school started in the boulevard bushes.  Yes, the bushes!  Nestled in between perennial branches was a treefort of a wasp hive!
Spotted by Garden Committee members in the day we decided to remove it before school started.
It's dormant now, nobody home if you wanted to peek - its at the South-East corner of the school property along 27th near Ontario parallel to the teachers parking lot.  Wasps dig clay from the ground to make this paper mache wonder.  It's about the size of a soccer ball, suspended in the foliage.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hollyhocks from Seed!

Thanks, Mr Smathers, for sharing your windowsills TWO years ago - yes, that's right.  Hollyhocks, collected from neighbours along Ontario Street and James Street near 29th are bi-annuals.  That means they take two years to bloom.  When the seeds were collected, we didn't know what colours the bloom stalks would be.  See for yourself the variety that  made it through their baby seedling stages!

Thanks also to the watering families - that watered these tiny things last year.  There are so many people watering this year that everyone only has to do a little bit.  You can sign up for a day, a week or a day of the week, but we think Lisa has it covered!  Even when it rains, those planter boxes get thirsty.  Any Sparetime parents are  most welcome to join in the watering routine (since its so close!)  Thanks to Lisa for scheduling.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pollinator Boulevard

The bees are a buzzing... we counted over 200 bees on one boulevard by Ontario at 26th!

and we have two new yellow flowers that are bee friendly

Did you know we need our pollinators?  Honey Bees, Bumble Bees, Mason Bees, Lady Beetles, flies, many different insects are needed to keep our plants fertilized.  In fact, we couldn't grow many foods without them!  Jerry Seinfelds'  The Bee Movie is a fun family film about pollination told by the view of a bee played by Jerry.  For a rainy day (which won't happen very very soon - the sun, we promise, is coming soon to this neighbourhood!)
On that note, watering families are needed to help fill out the summer schedule.  If you have a half hour and a day or a week or a day of the week you'd like to water around wolfe, please email

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gardens Around Town

Check out some interesting planter box projects around Vancouver.

  • Brock Elementary - with help from SPEC - Society Promoting Environmental Conservation
  • Cambie @ 2nd - look down from the Cambie bridge by the police station
  • Rogers Arena Sole Food - 100's of vegetables growing
  • Mt Pleasant park - where the former community centre was - new gardens popping up
  • Emily Carr Campus orchard - along Great Northern Way

Some good summer camps:

  • The World In A Garden 57th and West Boulevard, by Choices in South Kerrisdale
  • Southlands Farm 'Young Farmer' camps Southwest Marine Drive with all the horses, its such a gentle place transported into a world full of beehives, orchards, gardens, berries, pizza ovens and the new BCAA covered picnic area.  Frogs, dogs, ponies and ponds!Young Farmers - southlands farm

Friday, June 15, 2012

What's growing?

Potatoes (getting very tall now!), Beans, Corn, Hollyhocks, Fennel, Wild Bee Balm, Sunflowers, Catmit, grasses, horsetail, Oregon Grape, Wild Rose, Lupines and of course, Sunflowers.
Sunflowers popping up in the neighbourhood,  Fennel in the planter boxes

SUNSHINE is just around the corner... the last 2 summers when the high system moved in, it stayed and we are almost there!  The watering families remember :-)!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Kindergarteners get to work

With our classroom set of trowels (thank you to our funders!), two kindergarten classrooms from the Annex got to work and planted the seedlings they had so carefully grown in their windowsills.
Thank you to all the parents who came out and helped protect the 'babies' while being planted!  Any family wanting to help water this summer please contact us at

When those Grade One's return in September, there may be sunflowers taller than their teacher!  They also planted the popular 'Teddy Bear' variety and tasty nasturtiums.

When one boy was asked to move along, he stared at the seedlings and said "But we like them so much!"

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

This Just In... (the planter boxes!)

Speedy Grade Seven's filled 20 feet of planter boxes in 30 minutes!
 They will be Superstars to the Kindergarten class that will plant on June 1st!
 They even had time to protect the circle bench seedlings
Getting some hands-on experience with the classroom learnings about soil composition, we made a mix! Mature compost, lawn clippings, boulevard trimmings, mushroom manure, potting soil and top quality soil from West Creek Farms was combined to create nutritious organic soil.  These planter boxes will be able to support plant life for years to come.  Glacier Rock Dust is one of the ingredients.

Moving Mountains

Grade 7's will load the parking lot planters applying their knowledge about soil ingredients.  We will combine soil, lawn clippings, mature compost, potting soil, and leaves so those planters will yield nutritious foundations for gardens in the future.  Two years ago we unloaded a dump truck full that was spread around the back garden to nourish the 'naturalized' play area.

Two Kindergarten classes will plant their seedlings into the planter boxes that the Grade 7's filled.  These boxes are similar to the ones they have been constructing at Tupper Tech to leave a legacy project behind.

The soil photographed here is from West Creek Farms.  They sell quality organic soils.  We even had to wash our tires coming into the facility - to keep foreign weed seeds out of their products!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sundogs at Dawn & Ghost Potatoes

At 6:30 am the watering wagon makes its rounds with icy cold water on our wee seedlings roots.  Before the alarms go off the school is calm, the bikeway is busy with commuters and the sky had what was only thought of as a hot sunny afternoon phenomenon.  Sundogs - circular rainbow halos around the sun - were seen as the sun tripped over the school roof on its longer day ascent.

Perhaps not so sup rising - we missed a few of the 228 potatoes from the Grade One class in the back planter box.  Along with Dawn's raspberries in their 'holding' section and Lisa's freshly planted sunflowers awaiting their new homes, there are about 5 potato plants ready to do another life cycle.  Gardening is definitely not boring :-) !

Thanks to the Kindergarteners who helped plant almost 100 sunflowers and nasturtiums, some to take home and some to leave so that when they come back as Grade One students, they will be taller than they are!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mudder's Day!

A group of 8 moms and a parade of water carrying children 
planted over 50 sunflowers after school the Friday of Mother's Day weekend.
They are tiny now, but could grow to be taller than the tallest teacher!

We invented a new kind of flag to help them get watered as well as protect them from being stepped on while watering other plants! It's a paper holder and some nylon mesh. They are waterproof and reusable.  The materials came from the inspiring 'Urban Source' recycling store on Main Street in between 15th and 16th, a few storefronts south of Heritage Hall.

Please leave the flags where they are.
If you want to help us water this summer - a day, a week, or a day of the week, just ask!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Superheroes plant Potatoes!

Was it a Potato-a-thon?

A classroom set of potatoes were planted in our lasagna patch during our outdoor walking fundraiser. Whomever heard of potato lasagna?  Well, now you have!

On the day of the walk-a-thon - well, indeed, during the senior walkathon, a Grade One class with a superhero 'theme', were seen wearing capes, digging, laying stone paths, and then Superhero Julia made way for the ONLY rain during the outdoor event rain right ON top of the potato patch.  Amazing. 
No leaping of tall buildings in a single bound, but close on the magic scale.  We even planted right before a full moon, the moonrise the next day was a huge orange moon 14% larger than normal, the largest this year.  Just wait until those potatoes start growing!  

The first part of potato growing happens under the ground, so if you may think that nothing is happening, think again!  This smart plant is forming all of its roots and tubers through our layers of soil (thanks for the spot-on delivery, Henry!), leaves, compost, straw, manure and, yes, cardboard to reclaim the sod.
With any luck, they'll be mashing in September.  

This area of the school gets great south and west sunlight and radiant heat from the gym wall during the summer.  If you want to join our 14 watering families, let us know.  The potatoes should thrive here in our first in-ground food garden.  Stay tuned next week when Grade Two's will plant corn and beans!
Ms Griffiths and Ms Andrews have already planted sunflowers and nasturtiums for the welcome gardens.

Able to plant a classroom of potatoes in a single hour !
Thanks to Julia and Libby our parent superheroes.

Walk-a-thon Weather Fairies hard at work keeping students dry.
Note the cloud only headed to the potato patch :-)
Potato joke:  Q: What's a frogs favourite lunch?   A: French Flies :-)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Thanks to all 15 who came out Easter Friday!
Long overdue, every single of our 11 Green Street boulevards got some TLC and they look better than ever! In just 2 hours we got alot done!

Many hands get things done...                                         Half the work but twice the fun!

The Hail Award goes to Andrea and offspring. While we were sipping civilized beverages pondering if the freak rain torrents would stop, they were early birds who got soaked.
The kids proved that you can garden while on a bicycle :-)

Monday April 16th we are being interviewed for the City of Vancouver's Green Street newsletter.

The bulbs from last year, many hyacinths are up and look great too! We planted dozens, so there are more surprises to come. Thanks to Shera who will divide the burgeoning daffodils from yesteryear parents.

Well done, everyone!!!!!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Hi all!
Friday April 6th everyone is welcome to help tidy the City of Vancouver Green Streets boulevards!

1pm - Salt Spring Coffee meet and greet - planning what crops with what teachers.  Update on grants.
2pm - on the gardens.  we have 11 individual patches.  With many hands, it could only take an hour.  Bring your kids, we have kid tools, or they can play right below us.  If anyone knows the name of this plant (by the north bench), let me know - they are up now as is the numerous 'rescue' bulbs we planted last year. Answer: woodland anenome - we planted 2 more varieties to complement them!

pruners, gloves, rakes, leaf trimmings bin and even a West Coast Seeds Catalogue if you have one!

Thanks to Nicole who has offered delivery services of our new 5 and 10 foot planter boxes to beautify (and make safe) the teachers parking lot.  Location TBD.  Ms Jamieson took the grounds VSB staff around on a tour last week of the school gardens.  These planter boxes were made at Tupper with wood donated by UBC.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Like a layer cake...

They call it 'lasagna' gardening.  Instead of hard work digging sod, you can layer your nutrients.   Soil Science tells us that not all 'dirt' is the same.  You need combinations of soil, sand, clay and organic nutrients as well as space for air and bugs and roots in order to grow healthy plants.  Organic gardening does not use any fertilizers or chemicals that are not naturally found.  So in this light we are making a 'layer cake' of compost (Thanks, Lisa), leaves, soil, manure, straw and eventually more soil.  This way, when we are ready to plant, our classes will have good results because what's under the feet of those roots is like a jam-packed storehouse of vitamins and minerals for the plant.  Bit by bit, we add.  Thanks to Salt Spring Coffee for coffee grounds, and to Andrea, Nicole and kidlets for helping collect manure (aged so not wet or stinky) from the organized drive through at VanDusen Gardens and a few pinecones along the way...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Spring is coming...

While the plants are sleeping, the keyboards are has been the Tupper woodshop!

The Garden Committee has been working on a VSB Policy Document.  We have proposals to Evergreen, a local business and Whole Kids Foundation.

The bulbs (daffodils from years ago) are starting to come up on the Green Streets Boulevards.  In addition, dozens of tulip bulbs planted last fall by Shera, May, Andrea, Breanna, Zoe, Logan, Preston will start poking up soon.

On the to-do list;
add more soil to the gardens, continue the lasagna area
free coffee compost from Salt Spring Coffee on Main Street can be picked up
compost bin can be emptied onto the garden by the gym
haircut for many Green Street Boulevard plants

Volunteers always welcome.
In April we will do sunflower sessions in the classrooms - parent helpers welcome.
We plant seeds, read stories and talk about life cycles and soil science.

Spring is around the corner - and so is Tupper - where students are building us some special 'bonus' planters made with free wood (above) from a UBC donation.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lasagna anyone?!

We braved the weather forecast and did it! 
There is a new technique of reclaiming sod.  Instead of digging (hard work!) grass layers and composting, you can cover lawn with cardboard, soil, compost, leaves to create a new 'lasagna' layered garden bed.  It disturbs the natural soil less (no worms are hurt in the process...!) and is easier work (well, we will find out).  On Sunday January 8th, Lisa Scott, Dana Kemes, Jen Lum, Shera Paterson and Tamara will experiment with this method in the small area west of the gym.  There is a protected area that has a tree and some shrubs.  We will let the area 'sit' in the winter, knowing we will have a good 'crop' space for classrooms to plant in April and May.  We will add more soil when we purchase a load.

With our new planter boxes thanks to Ms Ingrams class going to Tupper, we will have 6 'crop' areas for classrooms to plant something that they can harvest the first week of school.

Lisa shared this - If anyone is curious about what “lasagnaing” (!) is, here’s an example of one website:

We will be attaching our Wolfe Garden Plan to this blog.
We have applied for funding to last a few years of enhancement.
Hopefully we can host some Open Houses this year to get teacher, student, family and community feedback.  The swings and rings will come down by 2013 so we need to plan now for a great space to replace it!

Garden Committee is meeting with Ms Jamieson Monday January 9th at 1pm.

Lasagna and salad... we could grow lettuce and have a lasagna & caesar combo.... or wheat... or sunflowers.... just kidding - crop to be determined when we work with the classrooms!
As always, ideas, comments, assistance always welcome.