Photos: At Loughborough Public School near Kingston, Ontario – a Legacy School identified by the Downie Wenjak Foundation for their work towards Truth and Reconciliation – students are learning how to grow and prepare their own food, while connecting with the land and their community. Through experiential learning, students are immersed in projects that bring them closer to earth and the teachings of Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee culture.
“Climate change, reconciliation and hunger can all be addressed in the garden and around the kitchen table,” Loughborough Public School shares. And so they’re using food as a foundation for many of their programs.
The school, located in Sydenham near Kingston, Ontario, is situated on the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee. They have implemented a number of hands-on environmental initiatives over the last few years for their students; and currently, they’re working to develop a new greenhouse and teaching kitchen with three main goals: food literacy, climate change and reconciliation.
“Learning the art and science of gardening allows students to experience the joy of nurturing something that grows,” the school shares. “It puts them in touch with the ecosystems that nurture us, body and soul. Students learn how to take what the garden produces to create healthy meals, they help operate a self-sufficient greenhouse and they learn to manage a food program. They learn important financial lessons and life skills. Nothing teaches like experience does.”
Alan Macdonald, a teacher at Loughborough school, adds that through experiential learning, students can be empowered to grow and prepare their own food, while also connecting with the land and their community.
He shares that “Experiential education like this means reconnecting with nature through the traditional teachings of Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee culture which tell us that honouring the land is a way to experience the mental health benefits of gratitude while living sustainably with nature”.
The school has put in place many initiatives that teach sustainability, Indigenous culture and food literacy. They’ve established a school-wide compost program that turns waste into rich soil for their existing food garden raised beds. They’ve planted dozens of trees on their property. They’ve implemented a locally-sourced salad bar program for the last three years. And their school reflects the Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee culture through outdoor teaching spaces, language nests and artistic installations — all of which have garnered national awards.
Loughborough has been identified as a Legacy School by the Downie Wenjak Foundation for their work towards Truth and Reconciliation.
The school also has a Food Sharing Program where volunteers prepare healthy snacks for classes on a daily basis; and for the last seven years, a Challenge North Student Enrichment Program has volunteered at a local food bank garden, growing healthy and ultra-local produce while collaborating with seniors.
The school hopes to build on these experiences with a new greenhouse and teaching kitchen. The plan is for the teaching kitchen to be designed within an existing empty classroom. The new greenhouse would act as an outdoor classroom with raised beds, water and power, providing a working indoor garden space for classes from all grades as well as for neighbouring schools. The greenhouse would grow produce for the teaching kitchen and food programs, and any extra food would be donated to a local food bank or community centre.
Kudos to Loughborough Public School for offering their students these invaluable learning opportunities.
Learn more in these recent news stories:
- Loughborough PS and the ‘Dish with one Spoon’ treaty (Frontenac News, June 5, 2019)
- Loughborough Public gets Indigenous-inspired outdoor teaching space (kingstonist, June 20, 2019)