Please describe your garden, is it raised beds, in the ground, do you have a greenhouse?
We have a cedar greenhouse.
What vegetables/fruit do you grow in your garden? What do you have a difficult time growing in your school garden?
Each class created a greenhouse/garden project of their own based on the interest of the children. Some of the items grown were herbs, tomatoes, pumpkins, marigolds, petunias, zinnias, 4 o'clocks, cabbage, and peppers.
We were surprised how well all of the plants grew in the greenhouse!!! We had an excess amount of flowers and had to give some away to families!
Why did your school decide to add a school garden?
At Macdonald School, we have been working to build outdoor spaces for children to learn in and about. We built 5 wicking bed container gardens the year prior and wanted to deepen our knowledge and growing season by building a greenhouse!
What classes participate in the garden, what subjects are taught in the garden?
All classes Kindergarten to Grade 9 participated in using the greenhouse. Subjects covered in the greenhouse: math, english language arts, science, health. Also part of our schools Learning Improvement Plan is to decrease anxiety in our students through positive mental health and mindfulness. The greenhouse and gardening ties into this concept perfectly!
Who manages the garden day to day? Who manages the garden over the Summer break?
All classes are responsible for their own plants and garden. However, all students and teachers would pitch in to help other classes with watering, transplanting, etc.
In the summer, we had a member from the community volunteer to water all of the gardens. When we came back from summer holidays, the gardens were tall and lush. Flowers were vibrant and very healthy!
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?
Each class does something different. We have a Practical and Applied Arts cooking class that used many of the different types of vegetables.
This year we had a school from the Ochapowace Nation visit us. We harvested seeds from our flowers (marigolds, sunflowers, zinnias, petunias) and participated in a seed exchange with them. We hope that they will plant their seeds in their school grounds and enjoy their flowers as much as we enjoyed ours!
Do you have community involvement? Do you have parents and volunteers? Have been able to source other funding to help your garden grow?
Our community is very helpful! Both parents and community members are always asking how they can help. This year we put up a "wishing tree" where we hung tags that teachers wrote their garden wishes on.... EX: seeds, potting soil, watering cans, fertilizer, spray bottles, thermometer, garden tools, etc. Parents and community members would pop in and take a tag and when they went to town, they would purchase our wish and place it under the tree. This worked wonderfully!
What are your future plans for the school garden?
Our goal is to begin earlier in the season. A couple goals we are working towards are to get eavestroughs on the greenhouse so we can collect the rainwater and use. We are developing our composting program in the school and have just began with worm composting. Another goal is to add a solar panel to help with a heater so we can begin our growing season earlier!
Any words of encouragement/tips for a school starting a school garden?
Just start! Don't try to be too elaborate to begin with. Keep things simple. Ask others what their passion areas are with gardening and support them. Make connections and persevere - it is worth absolutely every minute of time and effort!
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