Guest post by Hazel Nicholls, Project Coordinator in SD&G for Growing Up Organic
You may already know that school gardens are wonderful teaching tools, providing an ideal space for teachers to engage students in hands-on learning across disciplines. Gardens are known to increase physical activity, healthy eating habits, and positively impact student achievement and behaviour.
Impressive benefits to be sure! But, did you know that a school gardens can also serve as a tool for building resilient communities? Consider these four resilience-minded reasons to add an organic food garden to your local school grounds:
1. To build community gardening knowledge & skills: students are equipped with the knowledge and skills to grow at least a portion of their own food, protecting food security in the face of future economic, transportation, and climate changes.
2. To create food system awareness: students learn and interact with an ecosystem that is directly impacted by their actions. By learning about how choices in food production impact the planet, students are better equipped to advocate for sustainable and equitable food systems.
3. To promote community networks and broaden civic engagement: school gardens are created by the whole school community, which provides opportunities for students to engage with community agencies and volunteers.
4. To provide a space to experience nature: in addition to the health benefits associated with consumption of healthy produce from the gardens, students, teachers and volunteers also experience the relaxation and satisfaction that comes with completing garden tasks, improving mental health and ensuring community members can better cope with change.
Convinced? Ready to help build resilience? Growing Up Organic (GUO), a project of Canadian Organic Growers Ottawa–St. Lawrence–Outaouais Chapter, can help! In the fall of 2013, École élémentaire catholique Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire built the first school garden in partnership with GUO in SD&G and we continue to seek additional school partners in the region.
To get started, you can visit the Growing Up Organic website to learn more, or contact me directly at guo-sdg(at)cog.ca. It’s the perfect time to start planning for a garden at your school this spring!