2019 is turning out to be the most remarkable year on record for the Foundation’s programs. Over the past month, we have reported on the success of our causes which seek to promote the health, wellness, and education of youth across Canada.
We recently shared the story of the latest Plant a Seed & See What Grows Foundation’s sponsored project which can be found sprouting proudly from the grounds of Deer Lake School in Burnaby, BC and now it seems we have even more on the near horizon in the Lower Mainland. The Surrey School District has reached out to the Foundation in search of support for a slate of new school gardens and we’ve rolled up our sleeves in response and are ready to dig deep to provide the funding they need. This up and coming project is set to be one of the most exciting ones to date. Here’s why.
What’s So Exciting About the New School Gardens Coming to the Surrey School District in 2019-2020
The Students Planted The Seed
When Stephen Church, Career Development Facilitator at the Fleetwood Park Secondary School was asked about what sparked to expand this program, he indicated student interest was a primary driver:
“Several of our students were interested in expanding our greenhouse in order to cultivate more vegetables and herbs for our teaching cafeteria. Our Gardening Club was adamant that they wanted to produce vegetables and herbs that the whole school could enjoy.”
“Many of the students in the Home Economics classes were much more involved than I expected. These students were very enthusiastic about having the opportunity to plant what they wanted in the garden and share what they had made in their Food classes.”
Meanwhile, Johnny Zvi, teacher at Royal Heights Elementary, noted that success of their existing Gardening Club prompted expansion of their food growing initiatives:
“All of our students love to work in the garden! It was particularly heartwarming to watch students reactions to our potato harvest this spring. There were shouts of glee and looks of astonishment as students pulled the potatoes from the ground. A similar reaction was observed upon our return to school in September as students spotted the sunflowers towering above them.”
Heartwarming indeed! Our Foundation loves nothing more than to hear this sort of feedback.
Four Surrey Schools to Participate
With the financial support of the Foundation, the Surrey School District will be able to support four new school gardens at the École Woodward Hill Elementary, East Kensington Elementary, Royal Heights Elementary and Fleetwood Park Secondary schools. The Foundation has now created and supported a total of 21 school gardens across Canada since its establishment in 2015. These gardens will have a significant impact for generations to come.
The Gardens Are Leveraged for More Than Growing Food
The benefits of outdoor education are well-documented, and the four new gardens will help Surrey School District children understand the growth cycle of plants , as well as the source of the food they eat. However, it will also be used to provide students with hands-on learning activities that foster their motivation for learning and to present them with opportunities to develop skills that are applicable throughout their lives. Understanding all that’s involved in the seed-to-table process is extremely important and Stephen also sees how the gardens can be leveraged for even more, such as a channel for fostering creativity:
“We are a high school that has many teachers and students involved on many different levels. The Cafeteria students will be harvesting vegetables and herbs for use in the dishes they serve to students at lunch. The Arts classes have and will continue to use the plants as ‘subjects’ for their art work. They also hope to add artwork to the garden to make it more inviting and aesthetically pleasing.”
The new gardens will also help students who are traditionally more reserved, shy and/or challenged by disabilities:
“The garden has created a unique, non-threatening space for our students with exceptionalities. This space allows students to bond with each other through shared gardening tasks. It is a space that has become greatly valued by students who experience challenges.“
The input we’ve received from the district so far has been tremendous. While we encourage you to read our words on the importance of community and school gardens programs we would like to conclude today’s story with observations from Antonio Vendramin, the District Principal for the Surrey School District, who so eloquently stated:
“School gardens supported by Plant a Seed Foundation have become beautiful places to learn and grow. They have created hands-on opportunities for peace, contemplation, and to help children understand the growth cycle of plants as well as the source of the food they eat. Students learn about plants and the conditions that lead to a successful harvest and often demonstrate more willingness to try fruits and vegetables they might not normally eat. Gardens have the potential to unify a learning community around a cause that is beneficial to both humans and the environment.”
Fleetwood Park Secondary School
Help us continue to do our good work for schools across Canada. With your support, we will be able to expand our reach into your own communities and beyond. Please sign up to be a Friend of the Foundation here, and if you’re able, please donate. The future generations of Canada thank you in advance for your generosity!