“What a beautiful, natural area you have here. Where is your garden?”
At Brantford Elementary, a school which includes approximately 400 French and English students, we are lucky to have a green space in our back schoolyard.
But what we’ve been missing since the school was rebuilt in 2011 has been a school garden.
Luckily, we have a number of dedicated staff & parents that are passionate about outdoor education and meaningful hands-on learning opportunities for our students…and that’s where the adventure began.
Through grants and PAC funding, Brantford has partnered with Burnaby School District Maintenance Department, to have 9 garden troughs installed this year, with the goal being a total of 16 gardens (one for each class) by Spring 2019.
Our hope, originally, had been to have our community help build beautiful, natural looking garden beds, but due to building code stipulations in our district, we had only one choice…galvanized garden troughs. They may not be the most appealing to look at, but they do work fairly well, and we didn’t have a second choice…so garden troughs it is.
We then brought in Barb, from Sprouting Chefs, to survey our grounds to figure out the best placement for our garden with regards to sunlight, drainage, and security. From there, Barb helped us conduct classes on planting, where students (Kindergarten to Grade 7) were involved in planting a crop appropriate for the season (salad greens, kale, etc…) after learning garden space guidelines and rules. More recently, she conducted Harvesting classes where students had a chance to taste the fruits of their labour…yummm.
Our garden committee has also recruited a parent horticulturalist as a consultant and program coordinator for our school to help plan future classes and ways to support student learning around plants.
Our future plans are to grow our garden even more. First, we will work on signage and beautification projects to get our troughs painted by students and clear signage welcoming visitors to be respectful of our garden space. We have had 2 incidents this year in which community members either removed plants or soil from our gardens; so we’re looking at ways to dissuade this from happening again.
Next, we are hopeful that we will be able to link with our Healthy Snack and Lunch Program to have our garden provide some of the food our students eat. By the end of next year, we should have every student at our school contributing to our garden to make it a part of what we do here at Brantford. So when someone asks, “Where is your garden?”, everyone will know.