Boston Bar Elementary-Secondary School principal Debra Devine was inspired by a derelict greenhouse right in her own backyard and decided to investigate.
Her initiatives to restore it and turn it into a functioning greenhouse garnered attention from the Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-a-School program, resulting in a donation of $12,000 to help fund her vision.
“This greenhouse was built around 1985 to 1988 — I think Tom Hendrickson, who is one of our trustees was instrumental in getting funding from the Lions Club,” Devine told The Hope Standard. “They built this greenhouse and they had a vice principal here; he was an agricultural teacher and they did very well for quite a few years.”
Since his departure the facility has been used to store old desks and to recycle cans and bottles turning its once pristine visage into a bit of a dumping ground.
“I live up here in Boston Bar and for grocery shopping and to have fresh produce, you have to drive pretty far — it’s forty minutes to Hope, but if you really want to save money and do some serious shopping you go to Chilliwack, so tag that on to your food and gas bill,” she said. “It gets pretty spendy.”
The vibrant Devine originated as a home economics teacher with a passion for nutrition and food, eating well, hands on activities and pretty much any way to get kids moving and participating.
“When I saw the greenhouse, I was like, are you kidding me? I said this is cool, it’s really cool inside.”
Children would often bring unhealthy lunches to school, which sparked the keen principal’s interest in her students nutritional welfare.
“You think about families of all income levels — if we didn’t have to pay so much for food, that would give us more discretionary money in our pocket. That would mean more money put away for education, more money to fix your car, more money for your home or for a vacation. So, I thought why not as a school or as a community try to feed each other? If we can feed each other and get our food bill down, then we have more money to do other things with.”
Part of Devine’s impetuous for change was rooted in the philosophy to get the kids excited about growing their own food.
By fostering a sense of agricultural cultivation, perhaps, inspiring some future growers, conscientious of nurturing local produce, and by incubating a new generation of green thumbs, concerned with their environment, while providing quality and eco-friendly produce to a very deserving community, a much needed change could be forseeable
“These kids have big hearts, so my thinking was that if we created a program where we’re growing food for other people, the kids are going to feel better about themselves and they’re going to be excited. If they’re giving back, and they’re giving to their community, that’s even better, that’s going to pump their little hearts up and make them feel good.”