Diamond Valley students are growing their skills as they grow, market and sell produce in the community.
Through the Vertical Farming Initiative at Oilfields School, junior and senior high students grow a variety of herbs and microgreens in a specially-built, 40-foot sea can that has been converted to sustainably grow produce year-round.
Produce grown by the students is available for sale at weekly markets, held every Thursday at the school from 2 to 3:30 p.m., and there are plans to introduce subscription-based sales. The market is not held on days when there is no school.
“It’s completely student-led, so all the students do the planting, harvesting, sales and marketing,” said Grade 7 student Ella Campbell.
Students gain school credits and build skills ranging from small business management to agriculture.
The students are growing a variety of microgreens along with herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, thyme and dill, among others.
A guiding question in the class is how to supply healthy and sustainable food to a growing population, Campbell said.
Grade 10 student Bethany Ball said it costs a lot of money to ship produce from overseas or from other places.
“It’s worth a lot that (this is) local,” Ball said.
During the weekly market, samples will be available along with more information about the vertical gardening initiative.
Ball said it’s a lot of fun to be able to take knowledge gained in the classroom and put it to practical use.
“I think it's worthwhile to have a class where you can be hands-on and you're not always sitting in a classroom,” she said.
Growing plants vertically significantly reduces the amount of space needed, and the ability to control the environment enhances the growing cycle.
Produce from the school was also sold at the Millarville Farmers Market and Christmas Market by students and is being used by several local businesses.