Last month, the Green Schools NS Engagement Officer Amber McMunn visited Springvale Elementary to discuss all of the ways the students can waste less. Lee Anne Weber’s Primary students and Stephanie Lynch’s Primary/One students excitedly shared their stories about their efforts to help the Earth by getting outside and growing vegetables in the Springvale school garden. Primary teacher Lee Anne Weber runs the garden with her students. The gardens are planted by her grade Primary students in the spring, and later in the fall, the new incoming primaries get a chance to harvest and eat the healthy school food that has been grown. During the spring, students do the weeding and preparation of the garden beds. This spring they planted pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, spinach, kale, lettuce, peppers, and cucumbers. In the fall, the new students take out picnic blankets and eat straight from the garden. Students are encouraged to get in the garden with their bare hands to feel the soil and explore with all of their senses. They smell the garden harvest, and through taste, they notice how the vegetables from the garden are different than what is purchased in a store.
While they started out with two garden beds, with a grant Ms Weber received from Healthy Schools, this spring Springvale expanded into four garden beds. The school also used this grant to buy gloves and gardening tools for students to use. Now that the gardens are in use and there is a system in place, the next step is expanding them. Ms Weber is hopeful to use the leftover grant money to create an indoor growing station which will allow students to see the process of growing food throughout the seasons all year long. She also plans to start a vermicompost system which is easy to maintain and helps the garden by creating fantastic compost.
Throughout the summer, the garden beds are maintained by parent volunteers. Families volunteer to participate and each is allotted one week of the summer to look after the garden beds. This means they come to the school to water, weed, and harvest when things are ripe and ready to eat. That means the families take home the fresh, healthy produce! By dividing the work duties and responsibilities among volunteers for only one week each summer, the work is shared and the students continue to have an opportunity to work in a garden all summer long. Parent volunteers also help at harvest time and make salsa from the tomatoes and herbs that might grow in the garden. Students can enjoy many delicious snacks from vegetables they helped to grow from seed to leaf to flower to fruit, right outside of their classroom!
Engagement Officer, HRM