Thomson Community School, Regina, SK
Grant term 2022-2024

Our Farm to School project was launched in Regina, Saskatchewan in May of 2023. We received our funding in August of 2022, however, we were at the end of the growing season and had to delay  our startup until the Spring of 2023. 

The Thomson School Garden Project involved teaching grade our grades 5/6 students how to plant, tend and harvest healthy foods to enable them to grow their own edible plants and learn about the benefits of healthy eating.  Thomson School is an inner-city school, located in the core, downtown of Regina. Most of our 280, Pre-K to grade 8, students live under the low-income cut-off rate and face food insecurity issues daily, therefore, providing them with this knowledge was vital. 

Equipped with 6 raised garden beds, donated to us by our community partner, and 2 large custom-built raised beds, we started our garden. We planted beets, carrots, pollinator flowers, squash, cucumbers, 2 types of lettuce, raspberries, sage, and tobacco in our outdoor beds with screened, black soil mixed with manure. Although it wasn’t initially a part of our plan to grow sage and tobacco, we decided we would in order to utilize it for offerings, smudging and to aid in integrating Indigenous content into our teachings. We planted our tobacco and raspberry bushes directly in the ground and placed our sage in a raised garden bed. Our Elder in Residence, Sharon Agecoutay, said a prayer to bless the sacred plants and ensured that traditional protocols were observed while planting. 

Our seedlings sprouted fast and our garden was thriving by the middle of June under the care of students, staff, and volunteers. One student commented, “I’m so excited to watch our vegetables grow!” 

We were experiencing some really hot, dry weather and students were watering the plants daily to ensure they didn’t dry out. The project soon became a school-wide enterprise and many other classrooms vied to help care for the garden. To accommodate them, we made up a schedule and classrooms signed up to help water, weed, and to learn about the growing process. Students learned how gardens fit into the food chain and how growing your own food supports the health of people and our planet. 

By the end of June, our garden was flourishing. All the plants were healthy, and our lettuce leaves had already been harvested once.  School was ending and we had made arrangements with our community partner, the Heritage Community Association, to water, weed and harvest our vegetables until school resumed.  Sadly, the weather remained hot and humid that summer and most of our plants died. Our volunteers had only been watering twice weekly and it was not enough to sustain them in high humidity. As well, our garden had been vandalized over the summer; our strawberries, tobacco and sage plants had all been stolen. The only vegetables we were able to harvest in the fall were a few carrots, cucumbers, and beets. The yield was given away to students to take home. 

Despite the loss of our plants, we still consider our project a success. Students developed  a deeper connection to nature, they learned about the concept of farm to cafeteria and they are equipped with the knowledge to produce their own food. Additionally, we have the resources to plant a garden every spring and continue teaching students how to grow their own food. Thank you Farm to School Canada for providing us with this amazing opportunity!!

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