Nutrition month: experimenting with the school vegetable garden

Why not take advantage of Nutrition Month to explore the power of food and the educational potential of food experiences.

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Why not take advantage of nutrition month to explore the power of food and the educational potential of food-related experiences.

In the past, each family had a vegetable garden. It was not necessary to teach the children that carrots or potatoes grow in the ground. Today, many students live in town and have known nothing but frozen or pre-packaged vegetables. Industrial food is unfortunately part of the daily life of many.

It is perhaps to reverse this trend that we notice a growing craze for school gardens. This article aims to offer some general considerations to guide teachers who would like to provide a gardening experience for their students.

Soil, water and minerals: essential elements for plants

I hope that I will not teach you anything by affirming that the plants grow rooted in the ground and that their roots draw from the latter the water which is essential to them but also quantity of minerals from which they manufacture their tissues.

However, it would seem that nearly 500 schools in Quebec are located on contaminated land, in the Laurentians, Center-du-Quebec, Estrie, Montérégie and on the island of Montreal.

So before embarking on a school gardening project, it is essential to carry out an analysis of the soil around the school to ensure that it is healthy.

March is sowing month

Despite global warming, the frost-free season in Quebec remains fairly short. Quebec is big. There are several hardiness zones, or the ability of a plant to withstand difficult living conditions. Zone 2b has the shortest gardening season while zone 5b has the longest gardening season.

Many vegetables and herbs cannot be sown in the ground because the too short season does not allow these plants to reach their maturity before the onset of the first frosts in autumn. However, you can start seedlings indoors, which is an interesting educational experience. In the coming weeks, you will find articles proposing some activities to promote learning science from gardening activities.

Cardboard egg cartons are a great container because they cost nothing. In addition, they make it possible to separate the buckets and plant everything directly in the ground since the recycled cardboard decomposes in the ground.

Drill the bottom and place some gravel. Then, fill everything with universal potting soil mixed with a little sand.

If the seeds are fine, place them on the surface and sprinkle them with a little potting soil. For larger seeds, form holes about 2 cm deep. Then place each seed in a hole and cover with potting soil.

Finally, don't forget to water with a spray bottle to keep your soil moist.

Depending on the species, the emergence will take more or less time. You have to know how to be patient. Much like with children, each species of plant has its own growth rate.

Switch to second gear: transplanting

Transplanting a young plant from a seedling is called transplanting.

As soon as the first leaves have appeared on the plant, you can proceed to transplanting. If it is still too early in the season to transplant the young plant into the ground, we will put it in a pot or in a container.

In some cases, above-ground or container gardening may be the perfect option for your school's vegetable garden. However, it is important that the container has drainage holes and that it is deep enough to allow plant root development. The height of the bin must also be considered according to the age and size of the children who will be involved in the gardening project.

Ensure the sustainability of a gardening project

It is quite easy to join a committee that will take responsibility for the school garden because many parents see this summer activity as a way to instill in their children the basics of healthy eating. What's more, it is a trendy concept. In order to ensure the viability of the project, it is important that all stakeholders - students, teachers and parents - get involved in the project from the start. When it comes to taking care of the garden during the summer, successful experiences have shown that an effective way is to pair up families and give each group thus formed the responsibility of one or two week (s). precise (s).

The Importance of Celebrating: The Harvest Festival

It all depends on the success of the process and the amount of vegetables produced, but whatever the result, it is possible to organize a day of the Harvest festival in which the school and the community as a whole can participate. Costumes, songs, decorations, exchange of recipes, there are a thousand and one ways to celebrate the harvest.

This is a different way to develop the creativity of teachers, parents and students.

And maybe also “living it together”. Why not showcase one or another of the cultures of our students from various origins. One year, make a South American or Mexican garden. The following year, showcase the cultures of the Middle East or the Mediterranean basin. Then will come those of India, Asia, etc.

In short, why not go around the world with our vegetable gardens?

Some recommendations

If you are interested in this practice or you want to live the experience of school gardening with your students, here is a link to training: "educational and educational gardens: how to link education and urban agriculture" which will take place on Saturday April 14th.

For more information or to get organic untreated seeds, I recommend Lufa farms.

Finally, the Croquarium organization offers fun and educational activities around gardening with the program A treasure in my garden.

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About the Author

Ninon Louise Lepage
Ninon Louise Lepage
Ninon Louise LePage is a pedagogue and museologist who recently came out of premature retirement to be reborn as an educational designation. She has taught at the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Université de Sherbrooke in science education, in addition to working at the Canadian Heritage Information Network as a museology consultant. She also writes for our French friends at Ludomag. She also invites all interested to contact her so that she can talk about you, your students, your school and your particular experiences in digital and computer education.

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