Planting and tending to a garden can teach us many important things about nature, pollinators and where our food comes from, which is why we’re extremely excited about our School Gardens project that kicked-off earlier this spring.
Bee City Canada founder Shelly Candel speaks with students and teachers at North Bendale Public School. The Bee City team visited all participating schools during the winter to talk about plants, pollinators and begin the garden planning process.
This initiative, which is being generously supported by the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and Patagonia, will bring pollinator, herb and edible gardens to several Toronto-area schools including Tredway Woodsworth and North Bendale Public Schools in Scarborough, Valley Park Middle School and Marc Garneau Collegiate in Thorncliffe and Cottingham Junior Public School in Summerhill.
Students learned that an essential step of establishing a garden is creating a good design and plan.
Gardens are a simple way through which we can help children build a greater sense of connectedness with nature, especially those growing-up in highly urbanized environments. In addition, they promote physical activity, self-sufficiency and encourage healthier eating, which includes more fruit and vegetables. Some studies also suggest that students who are exposed to outdoor learning activities can perform better academically.
Building the Gardens
As I write this, the first and most laborious phase of the project is taking place. Truckloads of compost, which will serve as the base for the gardens, have started arriving at the schools and the students have taken up shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows to begin shaping the planting areas. Seed for hardier, cold-tolerant varieties of plants, like kale, swiss chard and lettuce, are being sown directly into the beds, while more tender varieties will be planted as the risk of frost passes. Several other plants that will eventually find their way into the gardens were started by the students and cared for in their classrooms, providing an excellent opportunity to observe the growing process up-close and learn about the ways of nature.
By early June, focus will shift to the maintenance phase of the project, which will include tasks like watering, weeding and checking for any potential problems. By the end of the school year, we hope that the students will have learned a great deal and, with some good fortune and a healthy dose of sunshine, be able to harvest the first fruits of their labour.
We’ll “bee” updating our blog with more photos and our latest school garden news throughout the growing season so, please make sure to check back often to see what’s “growing” on!