by Anna Kruseman
It was a wonderful sunny day when we met with Jim McCracken at Bradford Elementary School. This school is very conscious about sustainability and they have programs to promote this awareness onto the children they teach. It started with a simple grant for some flower beds near the courtyard, but the school got into it and with a few more grants, their building is now surrounded by vegetable patches. The food is grown by the children and the crops go directly to the school cafeteria. Jim explained that the children were not only excited about working in the gardens, but also about eating their own vegetables at lunch!
The school also got grants to put solar panels on the rood. They supply most of the school’s power. This does not go unnoticed by the children. In grade five, there is a whole project devoted to the solar panels and sustainability. Jim explained that they use small solar panels to demonstrate the fundamentals of electricity to the older children. Along with that, this year grade five will be working towards being carbon neutral.
Jim inspired us tremendously. For the future, if they get more grants, they even might expand the vegetable patches or even possibly get chickens. After we learned about the great initiatives this school takes, we wanted to do some work as well. So we helped out in the garden. Lily and I picked shelling peas and sugar snaps, weeded the bed of carrots and onions and mulched the beds. Meanwhile, Shea and Emma helped add compost and soil to the tomato plants. It felt good to help out in such a beautiful vegetable garden and to know that those carrots and tomatos will be eaten by kids who know where food comes from!
On Thursday we did some more hands-on work. We volunteered to build a bike rack in front of the library. I do not know what you expect when someone offers you the job to build a bike rack. But I was personally thinking about fastening some nuts and bolds, much like an Ikea package. It was certainly not what we expected. As you can see in the picture below, Bud Haas and the librarians had a much more innovative, economical idea. The plan was to make old fashioned hitches out of cedar wood. First we had to strip the bark of the trees and saw off the remaning branches. Lily, Shea and Emma all tackled this job, while I was busy digging three two-foot deep holes to put the poles into. Once the poles were bare, we put in rings in them where one can lock their bikes to. Emma and Shea did the artistic work of carving the word bike into the poles. Finally, we stirred some concrete to pour in the holes so that the poles would stay nice and steady right up into the air.
I had never done this before and it was a lot of fun. If you want to see the result of our labor please visit Bradford. Make sure to bike to the library and fasten your bicycle to one of our poles!