Please describe your garden, is it raised beds, in the ground, do you have a greenhouse?
The garden is in-ground on a large vacant school lot. We have a small greenhouse in the school courtyard. We are currently raising funds for a large greenhouse in the garden. It will have alternative energy sources, student interns, community volunteers, and newcomer mentorship programs. All food will be donated within the community.
What vegetables/fruit do you grow in your garden? What do you have a difficult time growing in your school garden?
Corn, potatoes, beans, cabbage, tomatoes, kale, etc. Newcomers planted some things I don't recognize (unusual beans, herbs). Peas have not been a huge hit. They got dry and people didn't seem to want them.
We tried Saskatoon berry trees, but they didn't get enough TLC to get started. We'll try again and include apple and cherry trees. We might try some hascaps because they're so hardy.
Why did your school decide to add a school garden?
We wanted a project that would bring together newcomer and Indigenous students. We've had such a positive response from the community, and we have tripled the space. It's been such a positive experience to see Canadian-born people make friends with newcomers and build a strong community.
Sadly, this year, we had a lot of theft. It's great to know people want fresh food, but they have to take only from the public section. Consequently, we will fence the private area. The fence is being donated (100 x 200 ft)
What classes participate in the garden, what subjects are taught in the garden?
Cree classes, English as an additional language, science, practical and applied arts, video class, art class, grade 9 home room, life skills work study
Who manages the garden day to day? Who manages the garden over the Summer break?
I go to the garden every day with my students. The LSWS class is getting more involved. We have a strong community support group that is in the garden all summer. I visit once a week or so. We'd really like to find funds for youth internships over the summer.
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?
This year we had some tomatoes for the school cafeteria. The EAL students make salsa every year as part of their practical and applied arts class, and they invite other classes for a salsa part.
Do you have community involvement? Do you have parents and volunteers? Have been able to source other funding to help your garden grow?
As mentioned previously, our community support is tremendous. One retired fellow visits the garden at least once a day. He mentors newcomers and helps us get loads of mulch. He's the fix-it guy for leaking hoses and broken signs. We get some funding from the school division. We got funding for start up, but we haven't been able to find funds to maintain. The city of Saskatoon gives us free water. A rototilling company, Wilco, donated their time to rototill the third section.
What are your future plans for the school garden?
Expand. We have the space and support from the principal. We'd like to buy a rototiller because this is our biggest expense. Our composting project expands each year; we have the cafeteria staff and caretakers on board. We'd like to set up more bins around the school.
Any words of encouragement/tips for a school starting a school garden?
Start small and see how the school/community responds. Find what people want and develop the garden around those needs. Never give up. There will always be people who cause grief, but generally people are responsive and eager to build a strong community. A garden helps develop a sense of belonging. Reach out to the larger community; people are interested in helping.
Nutrients for Life is supported by: