Arabella Showers and Hunter Sayle, both in Grade 3, have helped with the West Shore garden this year. Hunter loves Swiss chard, which he’s munching on here. Arabella’s favourite is beets. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

Arabella Showers and Hunter Sayle, both in Grade 3, have helped with the West Shore garden this year. Hunter loves Swiss chard, which he’s munching on here. Arabella’s favourite is beets. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

Student harvested, sorted, packed seeds set for sale at Langford store

Gardens went to seed over COVID, now seeds are packaged for sale

Hundreds of students from dozens of classes and several schools worked together to thresh, sort and package thousands of seeds from school gardens, and are now selling them at Buckerfields in Langford.

The 2019/20 school season started out like any other, and the garden coordinator Matthew Kemshaw planted lots of food plants to harvest with the students. But then the pandemic hit and schools closed. So he let the plants go to seed, gathered them and stored them.

Finally this year, after fall planting was done he got students to thresh the seeds out of the dried out plants, sort them and count the seeds into envelopes. There are at least 1,000 envelopes, so the packaging took hours and hours of work from hundreds of students.

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But they’d fit in 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there if they finished an assignment early. Many students decorated the envelopes, and now they’re proudly displayed at Buckerfields in Langford. All proceeds – it’s by donation, suggested $5 – go right back to the gardens, funding soil, fertilizer, tools and seeds.

There are two varieties of peas, four types of beans, kale and bee-loving flowers, phacelia.

The whole process, Kemshaw said, has been a great opportunity to share the stories that come from seeds.

All the seeds they originally planted came from the Victoria Seed Library and other local donors, so they knew the varieties were suited to the climate and good producers. They’ve also been able to focus a little on diversity within seeds, something Kemshaw says has decreased dangerously over the past generations.

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But it’s also about learning that vegetables can actually be delicious.

“Teachers will tell me, these students do not eat vegetables, but often when they see something grow they’re more willing to try it,” Kemshaw said.

Grade 3 student Hunter Sayle discovered Swiss chard this year.

“Ever since I tried it and realized how good it is, Matthew lets me eat it when I come to the garden,” he said, thrilled with the bright red stalks and glossy green leaves.


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