Dorothy Peacock Elementary school is planting and growing a community orchard with apples, figs, cherries and more that can be harvested both by students and the community. Front row – Grade 7 students Paige & Jessicah Back row: Kindergarten students Dylan, Isaiah, Peyton, Maximus & Brianna

Dorothy Peacock Elementary school is planting and growing a community orchard with apples, figs, cherries and more that can be harvested both by students and the community. Front row – Grade 7 students Paige & Jessicah Back row: Kindergarten students Dylan, Isaiah, Peyton, Maximus & Brianna

Langley school is growing young green thumbs

Thanks to a Tree Canada grant, Dorothy Peacock has planted an edible orchard which the students will tend to.

Students attending Dorothy Peacock Elementary will soon be able to go into the school yard and pick a healthy piece of fruit to go with their lunches.

Dorothy Peacock is now home to a demonstration orchard that will benefit both the students and the community. Pears, apples, figs, berries, cherries and peaches are among the varieties of fruit being planted.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn about where food comes from, how to grow their own food and hopefully take that knowledge to their own backyards,” said Dorothy Peacock parent, Sandra Holcik, who applied for and was awarded a $4,000 grant from the Tree Canada Edible Trees program to create the garden.

“This is an urban orchard, so we are showing students the possibilities. We are using organic practices, so we will mulch as weed control, use soaker hoses and will be pesticide-free.”

For Holcik, gardening is a personal passion. She heard about the grant opportunity and applied last year, but didn’t make the cut. This year, she reworked the application, and Dorothy Peacock is now one of only 20 projects in Canada to receive the funding.

In total, more $68,000 in grants were awarded and Dorothy Peacock Elementary School in Langley was chosen by Tree Canada, and partners Loblaws, Silk and Telus.

“We have a postage stamp lot in Walnut Grove but we have 22 trees and grow everything from pears to figs. My two kids have grown up this way so they are very engaged,” she said.

Deciding what to plant was key, choosing 60 per cent of the plants and trees that will bear fruit while school is in session, with the other 40 per cent fruiting in summer for the surrounding community to enjoy.

“We will put up a sign indicating that this is a demonstration orchard and the community is welcome to pick a piece of fruit,” she said.

Adjacent to the orchard are conifer trees where birds are nesting.

“It’s another opportunity to teach the kids about nature,” said Hocik.

“We thank Sandra so much for the many, many hours she spent on behalf of our school,” said principal Joanne Rempel.