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Winnipeg, Manitoba

Size of school

850 students
Grade levels

Grant received

School Garden

About our Garden

Please describe your garden, is it raised beds, in the ground, do you have a greenhouse?

We have a large ~1100 sq ft in ground plot for vegetables, 8 new raised beds built in-house, and 500 sq ft of newly planted Tall Grass Prairie plants. The funding we received from NFL paid for a large load of 16 yards of top soil and delivery to our school which was distributed to all of our new raised beds, to our newly planted tall grass plots and for an restoration of our large vegetable garden plot.

What vegetables/fruit do you grow in your garden? What do you have a difficult time growing in your school garden?

We grew almost of the vegetables in our garden from seed this year. We had tomatoes, green peppers, jalapenos, mint, sage, oregano, acorn squash, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, swiss chard, kale, parsley, sunflowers, carrots, beets, corn

Why did your school decide to add a school garden?

We decided to add raised beds to help frame our existing vegetable plot and give the space definition, and a place for climbing plants to grow without being trampled by the heavy foot traffic at that area. We planted tall grass prairie plants as a part of our school division's "Eco Cultural Restoration Project" to help replant tall grass prairie, one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world with less than one-tenth of 1% of the original tall grass prairie remaining. This is the original landscape that our school is built on.

What classes participate in the garden, what subjects are taught in the garden?

Classes from kindergarten to grade 8 helped in planting our gardens this year, with the majority of the sod removal and soil transfer being done by grade 7s and 8s. The younger classes helped plant tall grass plants, many grade 3-4 multiage classes helped with planting the large vegetable plot, and a variety of grade 1-4 classes helping to plant the tall grass plots. Plant science is a part of our grade 3 curriculum, and there are so many connections to reconciliation and land based learning that were achieved during our time in the garden and on the land.

Who manages the garden day to day? Who manages the garden over the Summer break?

During the school year months, it was mostly managed by myself and Jillian Sidwall. There are some other adults that helped in looking over the work of children. During the summer time, a former student and "farm-club" member, now in second year university, Anshika Sharma, ran a farm club where students would meet two to three times a week for several hours in the morning to tend the veggies, plant, harvest, water. Our model is one that has roughly 8-10 shares purchased by community members and helps to offset some of the cost of running a garden, and that is why we call it our "farm" (as a condition of commerce)

What do you do with the harvest from your garden? Do you have a harvest celebration? Do you use it in the cafeteria, or culinary classes? Do you donate some of the produce?

We harvested throughout the summer months, each week. A variety of all of the plants listed above - a selection of what was ready from week to week for shareholders. The farmers also would bring home some of their favourite veggies too. At the end of the summer, there is still a fair bit of produce to harvest, and once school started, the farmers and I met and harvested enough tomatoes, basil, peppers, etc. to make grind out some delicious tomato sauce and salsa. I canned these and we are now meeting regularly to grow microgreens indoors, and savouring a bowl of pasta and a plate of nachos and salsa every now and then.

Do you have community involvement? Do you have parents and volunteers? Have been able to source other funding to help your garden grow?

The community of our school is a large one, with many farmers from the Punjab region of India living in our neighbourhood. I feel this is an untapped resource for us as many of the grandfathers have a wealth of knowledge that could be shared. We will be working towards inviting them into our growing process this upcoming year.

What are your future plans for the school garden?

Expanding our tall grass restoration throughout our playground. There are some many wonderful plants that are included in this: flowering to attract pollinators, indigenous medicine plants such as sage and sweetgrass, and even wild strawberries!

I imagine we will also endeavour to have a large grain crop eventually, as this is a staple for so many cultures around the world and would be a wonderful way to connect children with their food sources.

Any words of encouragement/tips for a school starting a school garden?

Just start digging! We did, and haven't looked back. The sod patches around our school have been trampled by the many many feet and have now turned into mud patches. So much of this mud is tracked into our school (yes, the practice of not removing our schools is somewhat curious), and to mitigate, we will plant gardens that hold the soil in place and will have chipped paths. Growing more vegetables is always a dream too!