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Sep 09.26

Teaching our Kids about the Herbs and the Bees

Posted In: Charity Pot

No cell phones, no iPads—just fresh herbs, bread and honey bees. What could be greater than that?

Recently, a group of LUSH Moms came together with their kids for the first-ever LUSH family volunteer day hosted by our Charity Pot partner Richmond Schoolyard Society, a grassroots organization with the mission to bring children into the “outdoor classroom” where they connect with the earth and their community. Surrounded by beautiful blooms in Terra Nova Rural Park, Richmond Schoolyard Society is located just 10 kilometres from LUSH HQ in Vancouver, British Columbia.

For Chef Ian Lai, founder of Richmond Schoolyard Society and instructor at the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver, this means that he helps promote community, local organic food, healthy eating choices, and food sustainability to children. As he puts it, “I see children as the champions of tomorrow with endless possibilities to make changes that are meaningful and lifelong. I hope the schoolyard society inspires children to be more mindful, respectful and gentle with the interconnectedness of the world. “

We arrived at the farm first thing in the morning, dressed to get messed with our rain boots on and a spare change of clothes for the kids – just in case. Ian first took us to the gardens where herbs and plants were so thick and healthy that they were nearly jumped out at us. With scissors in hand and the kids carrying a bowl, we cut basil, mint, and fennel to put into the bread we were getting ready to bake.

We all rolled up our sleeves and started making dough, while our darlings sprinkled the herbs over the dough and added their choice of seeds before rolling out the dough, brushing on the olive oil, and putting it on the grill. Meanwhile, Ian had (unknowingly to some) collected a bowl full of fresh basil from the garden and whipped up the best pesto that any of us had ever tasted! When the bread came off the grill we all enjoyed fresh pesto with our very own bread. Yum!

The part of the day I was most looking forward to sharing with the kids was learning about, and going to visit, the honey bees in their glorious hives. Ian has several hives that house thousands of bees busy at work. We all suited up, and the kids were able to get up close to see the bees making honey, learn about how bee colonies work, and the importance of bees in our ecosystem. That’s something you don’t experience inside the classroom!

For Ian, it took a year for the vision of Richmond Schoolyard Society to materialize into something tangible – including many nights spent dreaming up ideas of how to build and run a project. Seven years later, 6000 children have experienced the program through their classrooms and they’re working with 8 schools in the area this year. As for the growing seasons to come, Ian envisions “the project impacting new schools and communities on a rotational basis. Our success is when we work ourselves out of a job by creating a sustainable program over 2-3 years and then moving on to another new project. Keep it manageable, simple and realistic. Work with great partners and never forget that it is for the benefit for the children.”

At the end of our day, we were sent home with some fresh green beans and veggies from the gardens, as well as our fresh bread made by hand with love – just the way we like it at LUSH.

By Erika Edwards, LUSH Charity Pot Team

The Best Pesto Ever 

1 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove (optional)

Step 1: Place basil, seeds, garlic and salt in a food processor.

Step 2: Turn on the food processor and drizzle in just enough oil into to chop ingredients (approximately 1/4 cup).

Step 3: Process for a minute until ingredients are completely blended and no coarse leaves or whole seeds remain.

Recipe courtesy of Ian Lai, Richmond Schoolyard Society

The Richmond Schoolyard Society is a non-profit community-based project that connects elementary and high school students with the earth, the community around them, and agriculture at large.