Planting the seed with young gardeners in Chilliwack

For more than a century, Chilliwack students have been learning about the joys and importance of keeping a garden

A young student gardener picks up his Chilliwack Fair prizes and gift pack

A young student gardener picks up his Chilliwack Fair prizes and gift pack

Back when George Epp was in grade school, the Chilliwack Schools Garden Program cost one dime to join.

“And they were called Victory Gardens,” he said, when people were encouraged to grow their own food to help with the war efforts.

“Mr. Rennie was running the program and to get the seeds we had to pay 10 cents,” he said. “Well. Suffering cats! To get it back we had to pick the weeds.”

The judges would come around and make sure their gardens were growing nicely, and eventually, the finest gardens would win awards for their owners.

That was the 1940s, and not much has changed today.

The cost has increased, but only to $2 per child. That covers the program’s costs of seeds, advertising and prizes. Today, around 200 student gardeners enrol each year.

They can grow gardens of any size, from small patio containers to larger crops. They can enter as individual, or as a pair to split up the workload. Their bounty is not only judged by a helpful panel of experienced gardeners, including gardening expert Jack Kouwenhoeven. Its also entered into the Chilliwack Fair, where the kids can earn prize money.

The 111 year old Chilliwack Schools Garden Program celebrated their annual awards night on Sept. 23, at Cheam elementary. Epp was one of several presenters, who handed trophies and smiles over to eager young gardeners.

The program is open to students from public and private schools, as well as online learners. Several of them showed up to receive their awards, hear the speakers, and meet other young gardeners.

They also got to hear from a past student gardener who has “crossed over” to be on the group’s committee.

Megan Krabbendam was in the program throughout school. As emcee for the night’s ceremony, she offered up some advice to the young audience.

“I would definitely encourage you to keep coming back here,” she said, and with practice, the gardeners will get “better and better.”

“If you don’t get called up tonight, don’t worry, maybe you will next time,” she said.

Registration for the next season will begin around February and March, with the seeds and information distributed in late April.

To learn more about the program, visit


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kevin Davey with Heritage Village long-term care facility holds a bag open as Lucyanne Carruthers of Panago Pizza in Sardis stacks some of the 35 pizzas to be given to the seniors’ residence on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Pizzeria owner continues to bring free lunches to Chilliwack seniors in long-term care

Even during COVID, Lucyanne Carruthers of Panago has been giving pizza lunches to Heritage Village

Chilliwack General Hospital. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)
Chilliwack mother upset about son’s alleged suicide attempt after hospital discharge

Rhonda Clough said 34-year-old son suffering with bipolar disorder should have been kept in hospital

Downtown Chilliwack BIA executive director Kyle Williams promoting the buy local ‘Shopportunity’ program that launched mere days ago. (Screenshot)
Downtown Chilliwack Business Improvement Association parts ways with Kyle Williams

BIA president Ruth Maccan said the association ‘will have a new look in 2021’

An anonymous person has decorated a tree and posted a sign encouraging others to do the same on the Teapot Hill Trail, and Bill Wojtun shared the idea on Facebook. (Facebook photo)
Could Cultus Lake’s Teapot Hill become Holiday Hill this Christmas?

An anonymous person is encouraging people to decorate trees on the local trail

Darwin Douglas, All Nations Cannabis CEO, and Cheam First Nation councillor. (Darwin Douglas/ Facebook)
Provincial reps a no-show at cannabis roundtable with All Nations Chiefs

Provincial snub was ‘disappointing but also somewhat expected’ says All Nations CEO

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Grand Chief Doug Kelly, representing the Sto:lo Tribal Council, is one of five signatories on an op-ed issued Dec. 4, 2020 in response to Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s report: In Plain Sight Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Healthcare. (Submitted)
OP-ED: Fraser Health and Indigenous leaders respond to report on racism in healthcare

‘We remain committed to real change, ending racism in our system’

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

Most Read