A School-Based Vegetable Garden Project


The Green Team (eco club comprised of mostly Grade 2 and 3 students, and a few Grade 6 students) at Copper Cliff P.S. led an initiative to start a food and traditional medicine garden in our outdoor classroom area, in conjunction with classes, and the school re-greening committee. Many students in our school struggle with food insecurity. Additionally, our community does not have a grocery store. The students want to learn how they can take ownership of food production, and make their food use more traditional (as related to Indigenous medicines and foods) and more local. The school truly is a hub in the community. By creating a shared garden, students and the community can come together to develop a higher level of food security with the skills they can develop through this project, the resulting school gardens, and community networks created.


In order to start a food garden, the Green Team wanted to get the plants growing from seed, inside the school, especially as we are in a northern location and have a short growing season. With the LSF grant, and additional fundraising, we purchased three hydroponic grow kits from SucSeed. In the time leading up to the arrival of our hydroponic systems, the students on the Green Team learned about seeds, seedlings, and caring for plants. They learned about how to grow plants in hydroponic systems. They brainstormed fruits and vegetables that they like to eat and/or would like to try, and learned about if they are feasible to grow in our location. In three small groups, they each chose 12 plants that they wanted to try growing. When our grow kits arrived, the students put it all together. They read instructions and built their light stands, and put together the aquarium pump and tubes and put all of the little grow baskets into the spots. Finally, they were ready for planting. They explored the different seeds, and learned that when planting little seeds, we would use several seeds, but if we were planting big seeds, we would only plant two or three in each pot. The real excitement began the following week. Over the weekend, seeds began sprouting. Students around the school began discussing the growth of our vegetables. The grow kits were housed in the resource room, and when groups of students would come for lessons daily, they would first sit in front of the plants and excitedly observe the plants, noting the changes from the day before.

As we waited for the time to plant the seedlings outdoors (early June), we learned more. The Green Team contacted community partners and arranged a trip to learn more about growing plants from seed. They (along with their classmates from Gr. 2 and 3) visited Vale’s Copper Cliff Greenhouses to learn about the Sudbury re-greening initiatives, the process of growing plants from seeds, and how greenhouses play a role in the process.

Our seedlings grew well, and seemed to outgrow the space (and we wanted to start more seedlings), so the larger plants were transplanted into pots and distributed to classrooms around the school where they could receive the most sunlight. Students on the Green Team instructed small teams from each class on how to care for the seedlings until it was time to plant them outside.

The Green Team took part in a celebratory salad feast when our first batch of spinach and lettuce was ready. Some students had never tried spinach before. We added some vegetables that we had in our school snack program and the students learned how to make salad. Students left excited, saying, “I have these ingredients at home! I’m going to make myself a salad tonight!”

As it is currently early May as I am filling out this form, our project has not yet finished. Our plan is to transplant our plants into the vegetable garden boxes in our outdoor classroom area during the last week of May or the first week of June. Additionally, direct sow seeds (carrots, beets, beans, peas etc.) will be planted soon by the Green Team.

We will build a team of community members and Green Team students who will care for the plants and harvest the vegetables over the summer. Fall harvest vegetables will be used during our annual “Stone Soup” lunch event, allowing all students to share the harvest.

Reflection & Celebration

The vegetable garden in the resource room became a focal point, and a topic discussed among students and staff throughout the school. The senior kindergarten class of 11 students who came to the classroom for daily phonics lessons would excitedly plop down on the floor in front of the plants as they arrived in the room. They would note new growth, discuss the tall plant that seemed to be reaching for the sky, ask for the names of the plants, notice flowers budding, and act like they could sit their for ages, just looking at the plants. Each group of students visiting the resource room would first visit the plants and comment on their growth. Teachers and other students around the school would pop into the room just to check out the plants. The most wonderful thing was that even though the plants were not ready to eat, the students across the school had this buzz of excitement about the vegetable plants that were growing in the school.

From all of our Green Team’s hard work on environmental actions this year, especially considering this project, Copper Cliff Public School was awarded the annual Elementary School “Go Green Award” in May.


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