A garden dedicated to a Kelowna teacher is now officially open as of Oct. 27.
Pearson Road Elementary’s Outdoor Exploration Centre was inspired by long-time teacher Isabel Alvez-Vicente, affectionately referred to as Miss V by the community.
Miss V taught kindergarten at the school for 23 years but stopped due to Lou Gehrig’s disease, otherwise known as ALS. The idea of the school garden was inspired by Miss V’s love for gardening, as well as her dedication to the school.
Various businesses, sponsors and community members worked on the outdoor space for about three years before it became what it is now.
One of those contributors is Miss V’s own brother-in-law Chuck Cullen, who works for TEAM Construction Management. With his work and community connections, he was able to help assemble the group that worked on the garden project.
The result culminated in an outdoor garden with planters, two greenhouses, and an overall beautiful space for students and teachers to enjoy and learn from.
Cullen said the experience of working on the garden was amazing.
“I came into this situation, this group of people, who wanted to honour her in the form of this garden. I just helped put it together along with everybody else,” he said.
“It was no more or less me or anybody, it was just everybody pulling together and collaborating and getting involved.
“This garden means everything. The children can come here and learn, get their hands in the dirt and see where their food comes from… it’s a fundamental part of our life every day, and Miss V really loved that.”
Before it opened, students at the school were able to use the garden, planting various plants, fruits and vegetables, which they harvested and turned into their own salsa.
Miss V’s daughter Ana Lucia Vicente cut the ribbon, standing in for her mom.
“I can’t even put into words what this means to us. It’s just so amazing,” she said.
“Now that it’s finally here, it’s crazy and I’m just so grateful to everyone involved.”
Vicente said her mother went down to the garden to see it before officially opening, and she said there was nothing but tears of gratitude on Miss V’s face.
“She’s always loved gardening. Even in her kindergarten class, she had seedlings in little cups, that’s how she taught the kids,” she said.
“I’m hoping they can bring those seedlings out into this big garden space. It’s just nice to come here and know she’ll always be part of Pearson.
“I hope when people come down here, they can feel her essence and her legacy in the space.”
Cullen said he hopes students coming to the garden learn more than just planting.
“I hope they learn the value of collaboration and community and working with each other to achieve a common goal,” he said.
“It will always take a team. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a community to build a garden.”