Vandalism at the community garden behind Muheim Elementary School may mean the cancellation of a summer Groundbreakers Collective kids’ food workshop.
Last Wednesday morning, Helene Fleury, a director with Groundbreakers Collective, received a phone call that sometime overnight the garden, planted by students at the school, had been damaged by an unknown person or persons.
Plants were ripped out throughout the garden and a tree was also damaged.
“It’s disheartening,” Fleury said.
The garden has been in place at the school for four years. While there has been minimal damage done at the site over that time, this incident produced the most extensive results.
Volunteers are planning to post a sign at the garden, letting people know the site is used for educational purposes. The idea of building a fence, with a locked gate, has also been floated but that option could run into the thousands of dollars, Fleury said.
“We could fundraise for a fence but we’d rather fundraise to add on to the garden,” she said.
At the garden, students plant early greens that they can nibble on while at school and this year later varieties were also planted so the food could be used in the upcoming Groundbreakers Collective kids’ workshop.
Having the garden at the school is an important part of teaching the students about healthy choices and developing healthy eating habits, said Muheim principal Jim Cameron. They also learn life skills like working with and preparing food, he said.
“I remember when I was at the high school, we made most of our money from french fries and Coca-Cola,” Cameron said. “We’ve moved from that and are trying to be consistent about the messages we are sending because we are making sure we sell healthy food at the school as well as educate kids about what healthy food is all about.”
According to their website, Groundbreakers Collective is a charitable organization and a social enterprise cooperative that provides educational programs and hands-on workshops throughout the year. The group also operates the Good Food Box program, which connects Bulkley Valley food producers with local consumers.
Anyone with information about the vandalism can call the Smithers RCMP at 250.847.3233.