River Hebert, Nova Scotia
Please describe your garden, is it raised beds, in the ground, do you have a greenhouse?
Our garden is comprised of four raised beds, each approximately 4' X 8'. There is also a grafted apple tree with four kinds of apples on it and we have also planted sunflowers along the concrete walkway into the front doors of the school. We are in the process of building two composting bays so that we can use the organic waste from the school to add fertility to our garden.
What vegetables/fruit do you grow in your garden? What do you have a difficult time growing in your school garden?
This year we grew corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, beans, and a few bell peppers. Everything did fairly well, though our pumpkins did suffer from powdery mildew and we only got 5 pumpkins from 4 plants.
Why did your school decide to add a school garden?
Several teachers and staff members were growing stuff independently in various classes. There is a lot of green space available in the immediate vicinity of the school, so it made sense to combine our efforts into a bigger project that can grow beyond the school to include the whole community.
What classes participate in the garden, what subjects are taught in the garden?
The technology innovation classes of junior and senior high helped build the sections of garden beds and composter unit, students from every grade helped plant sunflower and pumpkin seeds and there was a lot of help from the grade 5/6 class in assembling the sections of raised bed, filling them with soil and planting the rest of the seeds and transplants.
Who manages the garden day to day? Who manages the garden over the Summer break?
The day to day management of the garden is shared between the school librarian and the community member who donated her land to us. In the summer it was the community member and a group of students who live nearby who maintained the garden.
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 turned the bounty of our garden into preserves and are selling those preserves in the community to raise money for the school. Though it should be noted that there is a large amount of snacking that goes on when people are in the garden 😊
Do you have community involvement? Do you have parents and volunteers? Have been able to source other funding to help your garden grow?
Our garden is across the street from the school on the lawn of a community member. The elementary school had part of it's graduation in the garden with teachers and parents in attendance. The community member who donated her land to the school has also connected us with the Canadian Food Grains Bank who have donated a sign to the garden.
What are your future plans for the school garden?
Increasing the yield of the garden is certainly a goal. But, it would also be nice to align curriculum outcomes with garden activities so that students who might not visit the garden of their own volition can still gain experience and knowledge of food production.
Any words of encouragement/tips for a school starting a school garden?
When I applied for the grant I didn't have a space for the garden, I didn't know who would help out, or whether it would even last the summer, if it got established at all. Networking between principal, teachers, students and community members is key and, though initially time consuming, it eventually grew the support network for the garden to a point where my main duties were thanking and congratulating people for their support. Finally, if you are just starting a garden I'd recommend using fertilizer spikes to keep your plants well fed in their new beds. Organic and synthetic fertilizer spikes can be purchased at Canadian Tire/Home Hardware for a reasonable price.
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