School Orchard Project

School Orchard Project

Submitted by Phyllis Victory
Photographs courtesy of Jennifer Armstrong

Heron Rocks Friendship Society has undertaken a joint project with the Hornby Island Elementary School to share their orchards with the children to further their education of nature. This project fits very nicely into the new program that is being offered by the school called Community Based Learning.

There have been frequent outings to the Upper Orchard to engage the children in deepening their experience with the trees that have been planted there. Although there are four orchards on the Heron Rocks land, the Upper Orchard is the most accessible and has been so lovingly cared for by the volunteers who prune and harvest the apples each year.

Each student has been involved in an exercise called “finding my tree”. They have been encouraged to get to know this tree (and the others), by climbing them, making and hanging signs that name the trees, eating and harvesting fruit, writing stories about their tree and discovering the many things that can be done with the fruit. School events have offered time for drying apples and making apple crisps. There is a very large map of the Upper Orchard on the wall of the school that not only locates the trees, but also is surrounded by many photos of the children in the orchard.  Some of the harvested apples were taken to the Outer Island B&B and Marla, the owner of Pressing Matter (the mobile juicer from Courtenay, BC) kindly offered to press some of the apples that were picked. Marla donated two boxes of juice to the school, as well as demonstrating the apple pressing technique to the children who came.

Upcoming events are being planned throughout the year in the hopes that children can learn to have a relationship with nature, through their experiences with the orchards at Heron Rocks. The School Orchard Project was conceived by Phyllis Victory, and is a collaboration between Phyllis and Alissa Pratt, the Vice Principal of the Hornby Island Elementary School.  

It has been a lovely and heart-warming experience to see these young people exploring and enjoying the orchard and these amazing trees; some of which HB planted in the early 1940s. I think Hilary would be pleased.

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