St. Benedict Catholic School, Edmonton, AB
Grant term, 2023-2024

By St. Benedict Garden Club Staff and Students

At St. Benedict School in Edmonton’s west end, (part of Treaty Six Territory), we have a student population of about 400 students. Our community is vibrant and multicultural, and Kinder to Grade Six attend this school.

Prior to Covid, we had a Garden Club which ran a “Little Green Thumbs” program and the students’ participation was inspiring. However, after everyone returned to school post- Covid, we found that we were short on space to house the aging equipment, and the system was challenging to run year-round, limiting the learning during the school calendar.

At first, our school club activities were slow to start up, but we had hopes of rekindling our students’ love of growing, plus expanding their learning from in-school to our outdoors over a longer, more sustainable growing phase. Our school needed a “pick me up,” a spirit boost, both inside and out. The outdoors, especially, looked sad and grey. Our hopes were that we could boost the students’ learning, enthusiasm, and pride in seeing the benefits of their participation, care, and attention through experiencing a Garden Club again.

So, our new Garden Club began after the purchase of a “Tower Garden,” which takes up only a small space in the library. It has been positioned just outside our music room entrance, where every child can walk by and smell (sometimes touch) the flourishing plants, while watching them continue to grow and change, a few times during each school week. The students who joined the Garden Club (10-15 students) helped with planting seeds, maintaining the seedlings, transferring them to the Tower Garden and after, managing the plants and water system. Over the winter months, the students grew nasturtiums, basil, dill, parsley, lettuce, and peppers. The students learned about the importance of combining planting materials like soil, seeds, water, and adequate lighting to ensure plant growth.

During this phase, the school had an unexpected power outage over a long weekend, which shut the watering system off. The plants went without water for four days. When everyone returned to school, much of what was growing was limp and lifeless. Fortunately, after the problem was solved, and water began flowing, most of the plants recovered. Only a few were lost completely. Many students were sad and disappointed to see so much of their efforts seeming to vanish. However, after a few more weeks, we were able to snack on salad grown from our Tower Garden and made in our own school kitchen! We were excited because we would still be able to move plants outside once the weather warmed up.

Finally, after the spring thaw, we prepared the outside front beds with the help of our Miss Stacy, Miss Mackenzie, and Miss Roy and moved some of what we grew indoors (except for our salad snacks), outside into the front bed of our school, combining it with a few colorful annuals from a local store. The students then took part in planting more seeds in our garden bed which included vegetables and flowers, to experience our regional growing season. The final stage for the students to experience will be once the vegetables have grown over the summer, the students will hopefully return to vegetables ready to pick and eat. We can’t wait to see what the end of summer brings!

Some of the students shared comments about their experiences and what they liked most;

“What I loved about Garden Club was we had salad and sandwiches with lates” (Kallum)

“I loved the ledis was good” (Hilary)

“I loved eating the food so yummy! (Sam)

“In Garden Club I learned that plants are just like us. They need food, water, sunshine, just like us. But also, some plants don’t work out. They can die if you don’t take care of them. Our parents take care of us. So, we are like parents to the plants. We take care of the plants like our parents do to us” (Megan)

“I LOVE the Saled!” (Liz)

Related Posts