Beaconsfield High School Three Sisters Garden
Beaconsfield High School’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee collaborated with students from the Green Team to create a Three Sisters Garden. The students were interested in understanding the traditional growing methods of local Indigenous cultures. The harmonious relationships between growing corn, squash and beans were explored. The intent was to create and nurture an outdoor garden that could provide produce for our neighbouring Indigenous food bank. The creation of a colourful garden would also beautify the school’s outdoor courtyard while teaching the larger student body about the importance of sustainable planting practices which was very well understood by Indigenous peoples throughout time. The addition of orange flowers such as marigolds and lilies is a nod towards our new found appreciation of Phyllis Orange Shirt Day initiative.
The students eagerly began the planting process by preparing their organic seeds. Using large upright indoor hydroponic growing towers they planted squash, corn and many other varieties of vegetables during the winter months. Maintaining these systems throughout the winter and during an enforced lock down proved to be very challenging however the staff and students rallied together to ensure a good crop of seedlings would be available for late spring planting. It was decided that raised beds would be ideally suited to the courtyard environment and would also give us the opportunity to grow many other varieties of vegetables in the same local.
Reflection & Celebration
The students were very invested in the entire process. Witnessing the growing process take place daily within their classrooms increased their commitment to the project and enhanced their understanding of the symbiotic relationships in agriculture. The building of the raised garden beds was a team building exercise as well. The students were able to explain to other students why it’s so important to plant these items together. We are very fortunate to have teachers interested and invested in this garden who will maintain the project throughout the summer. We eagerly await the fall when students return and see the twisting beans climb the rigid corn stalks and the gorgeous squash plants that run along the bottom of the garden. The planting of white pines near the garden was done in honour of the kindness shown by Indigenous communities towards the European ancestors who came to this continent centuries ago. The use of white pine needles for medicinal purposes has only increased the students awareness and understanding of this ancient knowledge and has spurred them on to begin planning next year’s medicinal garden project…one beautiful project inspires the next.