It’s been a joyful whirlwind! The past few weeks of school were packed with exciting activities for both the Eagles and the Owls. As the year end approaches, it is tempting to just ‘power’ through, but our team was determined to enjoy our time together with the children, and to find stillness even in the busiest of days! We hope you enjoy this summary of some of our last events.
Sharing First Nations Knowledge of Indigenous Plants: We have been in discussion with Lindsay, Ashlyn’s mother, for a long time about coming in to share her culture and knowledge with our children. Lindsay is the incredible artist who painted the meaningful and beautiful piece in the Cottage. Lindsay has been studying and teaching ethnobotany at SFU so she has a wealth of knowledge regarding Indigenous plants and their medicinal uses. As well, her daughters, Ashlyn and Rylan, Pow Wow dance, so we have been eager for them to share this special dance for with us. First the Eagles families joined us for an educational walk during which we learned about salmonberries, horsetail, plantain -or ‘frog leaf’, sticky grass, and herbs. Each child put together a medicine bundle with sage, sweet grass, tobacco and cedar boughs, not to be ingested, but to keep in one’s pocket for comfort and spiritual wellness. We were honoured to feel our TNNS values and curriculum come together in such a special day, Thank You Lindsay, Ashlyn and Rylan!
Farmer’s Market: The idea for the market sprouted last year, after visiting Quilchena Elementary students in-house vegetable market: How cool would it be to do a market together, using both our school’s resources and building on our joint interests in gardening, the environment and food security? Very cool indeed! So, many months ago, we sat down with teachers Kevin and Andrew from Quilchena to discuss this possibility. The concept of children being visible and engaged in meaningful and relevant work is an integral part of the Reggio Emilia philosophy: the children are viewed as capable and valued citizens, worthy of participation in community events. We wanted our TNNS children and our buddies to have this kind of opportunity in our own community, as people who can contribute in a meaningful way to our world (hence the title, “Young Citizens Farmers and Artisans Market), and that they did!
Thanks to a wet, cold Spring, the actual event seemed to sneak up on us – we have a new appreciation for the weather anxiety farmers experience! However much thought and time went in to choosing crops that could be grown and harvested within the school year; working in the garden (preschoolers LOVE filling wheelbarrows with soil!); making the signs; and planning the day. Parents also helped, both in the garden and on market day. The City of Richmond were incredibly supportive, kindly providing tents and tables. We wanted the children to experience giving back to the community, so we asked all the classes to donate some of their prize produce to the Minoru Seniors Centre for their hot meal. We were honoured to have Mayor Brodie, and Councillors MacPhail, Loo, Au, and McNulty pop by, as well as many Richmond School District staff. A portion of our proceeds from the day will be donated to the Stanley Park Ecology Society to support their Co-existing with Coyotes educational programs. The day was very successful for all involved, so of course we already have plans for ‘growing’ this project next year to include both TNNS classes!
Planting Trees: At the end of our first school year, we planted a commemorative Oak tree behind the Cottage. It was so much fun that we seem to have created an annual tradition, planting three more trees last year, and four this year! The trees were donated by the City of Richmond, and Shane and “Tillia” from BC Plant Health Care came out to help us with digging the holes and teaching us how to care for the trees (water! water! water through the summer!).
End of Year Celebrations: What does a Nature preschool do when it rains on your party? Put on our raincoats! Truthfully, the Owls children hardly seemed to notice it was raining, especially with the luxury of eating and dancing under cover at Mary’s Barn! The Sharing Farm kindly worked around our activities both days, so we could use the long harvest tables on Friday under sunnier skies. Thank you to everyone for walking this land with your children and celebrating our wonderful year together!
Our concluding slide shows are always bittersweet and a wee bit tearful – an emotional reflection of our relationships with one another and this place. From deep within our hearts, we extend a thank you for being part of TNNS and look forward to many future times of connecting through nature!
‘Till the next post,
Emily & Kate