3. Queen Mary Elementary – Compost Systems

Project Title

What’s in Your Compost Bin?

Organization Name

Queen Mary Elementary School

Keywords

School garden, food garden, urban agriculture, compost, plastic contamination

Related Course Concepts

Asset based community development, food security

Organization Information

Organization Name

Queen Mary Elementary School

Mission and Vision of Organization

Our mission is to build a respectful community of lifelong learners. We work towards being caring, accomplished and cooperative citizens. We aim to provide an enriched environment in which children are encouraged to think, question, create and wonder.

Guiding Principles + Values

  • Demonstrate personal responsibility and self-control
  • Respect each other, respect each other and respect property
  • Becoming socially and environmentally conscious learners

As students develop in age, they will show increasing maturity, decision making and leadership qualities.

We value:

  • Connection to land, teaching students how we obtain our food
  • Accessibility for all students and staff to use the garden

Contact Information

  • Primary Contact Person(s): Michael Atkinson
  • Email: matkinson@vsb.bc.ca
  • Secondary Contacts: Maria King, Sabrina Kuah (mking@vsb.bc.ca; skuah@vsb.bc.ca)
  • Address: 2000 Trimble Street, Vancouver BC
  • Phone: 604 713 5464
  • Website: http://go.vsb.bc.ca/schools/queenmary/Pages/Default.aspx
  • Best time(s) method(s) to contact: Email

Project Description

Queen Mary has on-site raised European garden beds and native plant areas. Staff have been working with students and a variety of community groups during the past several years to make best use of these resources. Staff at QM have identified a number of challenges and opportunities inherent to these spaces including helping students to understand how composting is part of the soil and food cycle.

Last year, new soils delivered for the raised garden beds were contaminated with some plastics. This raised the question of standards for soil production. What are the standards? Is soil production regulated? Do plastics in food soils matter? Is it an issue for food consumption? This initiated a lot of discussion with stake holders, but no resolutions.

These questions also led to school staff considering producing our own soil. The school currently utilizes a green bin as part of the VSB waste management system. Currently waste from these is collected along with our other recycling and garbage. We noticed that students frequently used these green bins to dispose of a large quantity of non-biodegradable items. It was apparent that students need further education on how to utilize the green bin.

Past UBC students worked with out QME students to identify what should go into the school’s green / compost bins. The exciting hands on component was for students to sort through the bins in our school to see how much plastic waste was actually being thrown in with the organics. This project will build on this past work, to continue to help students understand and engage with waste disposal challenges. We are exploring options like maintaining worm bins or other, to help students understand the complete cycle of food from seed to soil.

Note: We do not expect UBC LFS students to be teachers. Any and all interactions with elementary students will be led and facilitated by classroom teachers with input from UBC students and through collaborative planning.

What challenge or issue does the project aim to address?

This project will help us strengthen our school gardening and sustainability education efforts in a way that is tailored for our students and our setting.

Student Assets and Skills (preferred or required)

  • Knowledge of a variety of composting systems.
  • Comfortable presenting and working with small groups of elementary students or their classroom teacher.
  • Enthusiasm and interest in sharing knowledge with a wide audience.

Student Assets and Skills (to be developed through the project)

  • Knowledge of a variety of composting systems.
  • Comfortable presenting and working with small groups of elementary students or their classroom teacher.
  • Enthusiasm and interest in sharing knowledge with a wide audience.

Is a criminal record check required?

Yes - to be discussed at the first community partner meeting (Sept 18)

Project Location

Preferred Days of Week and Hours

  • To be determined with the community partners.

Project/Partner Orientation Materials

Students should review these materials prior to the first partner meeting:

  • Cullen, T. et. al (2015). Food literacy: Definition and framework for action. Perspectives in practice, vol. 76. DOI: 10.3148/cjdpr-2015-010
  • Sumner, J. (Ed.) (2016). Learning, food, and sustainability: Sites for resistance and change. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. Available from UBC Library. Students should read the Introduction before the first community partner meeting.
  • Before the first partner meeting, please request and review the relevant past LFS350 student project reports from your TA

Additional Project/Partner Orientation Materials

The following will be provided at the first community partner meeting:

  • Site visit to the school garden and daycare gardens at the first partner meeting (September 18)

Related Community Service Opportunities for Students

Students are welcome to volunteer at our school! Please ask about opportunities.

Expected Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

  • I hope students will learn about helping individuals to change habits
  • I think students will come to appreciate that change must be individual choices, but that these can be influenced through education, communication and incentives.
  • Students will develop a skill in presentation to a wide variety of audiences

Organizational Outcomes

Project (Short Term) Outcomes

Students will support our school composting systems which will improve the quality of our finished compost and garden soil.

Medium Term Outcomes

By learning about composting and stewarding the land, students will develop connections with the land and with each other. These efforts will also help us reduce the amount of single use plastic waste being produced at Queen Mary.

Long Term Outcomes

This project helps us share our core values by encouraging students to:

  • Demonstrate personal responsibility and self-control
  • Respect each other, respect each other and respect property
  • Become socially and environmentally conscious learners
source: https://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:LFS350/Projects/F2019/QME2