Okanagan Science Centre volunteer Linda Peterat was proud to bring back the Canadian Association of Science Centres’ Cascade 2011 Best Onsite Program from the association’s conference in Sudbury in June.
“It’s a real honour for the Intergenerational Landed Learning Program. We were delighted and surprised,” said Peterat, professor emerita of Curriculum Studies, University of British Columbia and co-founder, with Dr. Jolie Mayer-Smith, of the Intergenerational Landed Learning on the Farm for the Environment Project at UBC Farm in 2002. She introduced the program to the Okanagan Science Centre in 2008 and works with Jan Hillis, a registered dietitian who delivers the food component of the program.
The program matches experienced gardeners with Grade 4 students from St. James School to spend two-hour sessions regularly from March to June and again in September for the harvest in the centre’s garden. The students learn to grow vegetables and then prepare them and eat together. The focus is on local, organic produce and nutritious food with the students fulfilling their science curriculum through the project.
“They become more adventurous in their eating and learn to taste and appreciate the freshness of garden-grown things, as well as the work that goes into producing food. Some of them go on to garden and cook at home,” said Peterat.
With the students, parents and friends asking for recipes, Peterat, Hillis and Tathali Urueta-Ortiz, a UBC PhD student, put together the Eats and Treats cookbook. The cookbook has recipes for enjoying everything from the earliest wild greens to fall vegetables, with kid-friendly, kid-tested instructions, lots of pictures and food tips.
“The participants in the program tell us how much it means to them,” said Okanagan Science Centre executive director Sandi Dixon.
“The kids say it’s fun but hard work. One initially reluctant volunteer who has been with the program since the start says it’s the most meaningful thing he has done in his retirement. We see the impact and the friendships formed.”
Eats and Treats is available at the Okanagan Science Centre with proceeds going to keep the program running. Peterat and the volunteers also speak at other schools and hold workshops for teachers. They have produced a teachers’ resource book, Get Growing Activities for Food and Gardening Learning, which can be adapted for students of other ages, is in use around the province, the country and internationally, as well as for Project WILD, an environmental education program in B.C.