During the 16/17 school year, Heritage Public School’s parent council here in Navan came across a program called Growing Up Organic, which is a garden and farm-based educational program for children and youth. Parent council thought it was a great fit given the rural roots of the school, and researched the program with the intention of building raised vegetable/flower garden beds on school property for the teachers and students to use throughout the school year. The daycare on site, Children’s Village, offered to maintain the gardens over the summer months alongside their own planted gardens.
Growing Up Organic hopes to “foster a generation of children and youth with greater food literacy, life-long healthy eating habits, increased food skills, and an understanding of environmental health issues”. Garden-based workshops that are linked to the Ontario curriculum can be delivered on site at the school gardens in the spring and fall and include: seed saving, soil exploration, planning the garden, planting a garden, seed starting, and transplanting. There are links to the curriculum for grades 1-8 including Science and Technology, Health and Physical Education, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Geography. The gardens are popping up at many schools in the Ottawa area and are being conceptualized as an “Outdoor Classroom”.
After some research, and development of a proposal, the idea was well received by the principal and many staff at Heritage PS as well as the school board. With that, approximately 10 parent and grandparent volunteers set to work to build 8 4x6x2 raised garden beds on a sunny Saturday in July. 6 hours of hard work and the result is this beautiful garden area, accessible to all students and close to a water source for easy care and maintenance. The wood for this project ($2100 worth) was generously donated by Swank Construction Ltd, and the soil ($600 worth) generously donated and delivered by Laurent Leblanc Ltd.
Parent council hopes that in having these gardens, the kids can see where food comes from and can appreciate the work behind growing food. School gardens also foster a sense of community, of belonging, of working towards a common goal, of inclusion, and parent council hopes the gardens will strengthen relationships between the students, teachers, daycare staff, parents and community volunteers. The gardens may also encourage leadership opportunities, for example via the creation of a gardening club for some of the senior students at the school.
In terms of what to do with the produce grown? Nothing better than fresh veggies to eat at the school and daycare during nutritional breaks! The produce could also be donated to local food banks, which is a great way to give back to the community. The first crop will be planted in Spring 2018 and parent council is excited to see the kids forming and maintaining relationships, growing their own food from seed, and giving back to their community.
The kids are excited to dig in in Spring 2018 and plant some veggies. For now, the JK/SK classes for out a couple weeks ago to plant some spring bulbs and they are anxious to see them bloom come Spring.
We decorated our garden with a wooden sign donated by a local vendor that said “Plant Smiles, Grow Laughter, Harvest Love” ♥️
Photo Credit : Navan Nugget Editor Tom