Planting and tending to a garden teaches us many important things about nature, pollinators and where our food comes from, which is why we’re extremely excited about Bee City Canada’s School Gardens project, which kicked-off 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, is bringing 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 as well as Cottingham Junior Public School in Summerhill.

Students learned that an essential step of establishing a garden is creating a good design and plan.

Why Gardens? 

Through the simple task of gardening, children and communities can become more connected with nature, especially those in highly urbanized environments. looking after a garden also promotes physical activity, self-sufficiency and encourages healthier eating that includes more fruit and vegetables. In addition, there have been studies which 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 have been started by the students in their classrooms. These are providing an excellent opportunity to observe the growing process up-close and will eventually find their way into the gardens.

Starting seeds.

Next Steps                                

By mid-June, all planting will be completed and focus will shift to the maintenance phase of the project, which will include tasks like watering, weeding and looking after any potential problems. Our hope is that the students will have learned a great deal through their work in the garden and, with good fortune and the right weather, can harvest, enjoy and share the fruits of their labour throughout the summer months.

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 to see what’s “growing” on!