Creating Connections Between Food, Gardens, Trees, Shrubs and Compost


Creating connections between the food we eat and land care and gardens was primarily the focus of our project. As such each of our classes took a role in planting a specific vegetable or a variety of vegetables to provide nourishment to themselves and their class or school. Students also planted the beginnings of a food forest & food forest trail, plus continued to collect kitchen scraps from our volunteer-run hot lunch program to make compost. Our vision is for the school to be a food producing entity and celebrate this both through annual cropping and perennial cropping (food forests) all the while integrating it with the rhythms of the seasons for children and their teachers to be full on participants and leaders with! Indeed we are bringing the garden back to the school yard and in doing so, creating a connected, vibrant ecosystem in which to learn.


Falcon Class (Grade 4-7) Class Teacher, Agnes Took:
While the snow was still piled over the land outside, we got started with planting flowers and herbs which can take a long time to germinate, and the colours on the packages looked so inviting! We planted pollinator mixes, morning glories, lavender, sage, chamomile, onions, celery and summer savoury. Also with the LSF grant, we purchased a small indoor greenhouse and the students had to figure out how to put it together… It was a real example of working as a team! We then planted dill, lettuce, radishes, arugula, and cilantro in our school greenhouse and by mid May were enjoying fresh radishes and our first little harvests of greens for salads to augment the hot lunch program.
We also planted tons of varieties of heritage tomatoes: cherries, beefsteak, plum, paste, slicers, canners and black, orange, yellow, pink and lots of red varieties. This was fun, but also challenging to keep the different varieties labeled as we transplanted them into bigger containers over the course of the 2 months of indoor care. Finally, they are in our greenhouse waiting for the last frost date to go out! In the meantime, we’ve planted now most of the children’s garden! First weeding the beds, then planting carrots, onions & celery (started from seeds indoors earlier), beets, kale & potatoes, and beans so far. We also started a little tree nursery and started planting a food forest- but more on that later. The last things we need to plant are the tomatoes and some pumpkins!

Alumni Passion Project: Grade 11 student – Michael D. @ Carleton North High School, Florenceville-Bristol, NB
One of our graduates (who went to the KANS from preschool upto Grade 8) approached his principal to see if he could clean up the small attached greenhouse at the school and grow a salad for his English class as his final project of the term (a passion project). The greenhouse had been sitting unused for a couple of years and the principal said that he could try, but seemed doubtful that it would be possible. Watering was a big challenge, over the weekend especially. Michael planted a number of varieties of greens and devised a timer based watering system using a soaker hose, a small submersible pump and an aquarium. Over the course of 12 weeks, he grew enough greens to harvest and feed his class!

ii. The Second Part of our project was to plant some perennial plants that can feed the school community into the future and also contribute to sequestering carbon longterm as shrubs, trees and soil building efforts through establishing some nut and fruit trees on the land. The whole school participated in these efforts as follows:

On Wednesday, May 10th – we planted 4 chokeberries, 5 nanny berries, 5 arrow wood and 10 burr oaks along one of the main trails that connect the school to the gardens out in the field.
On Thursday, May 11th – the Falcon class planted 5 hazelnuts, 6 chokeberry and 5 butternuts out at the edges of the forests near the children’s garden (on Kids’ Land). The Falcon class also planted 10 service berries, 5 nanny berries, and 5 arrow wood in a small tree nursery that they made with their teacher beside the garden. These will grow out a bit longer (maybe until the fall or next spring) and then will be planted out to continue the food forest trail or the plantings on kid’s land.

iii. Finally our last part of the project was to look at ways that we can make compost more engaging. As a school we already collect all our kitchen wastes made during the day (including the prep for hot lunch on 2 days when parent volunteers come prepare at the school a meal to share). These kitchen scraps are placed into a compost bucket and then at the end of each day, one student from the senior elementary class (Falcons) has it as their chore to empty the contents outside into our compost bin and then come back in to wash the bucket. In the summer, this compost is turned with added green matter from weeding the raised beds outside our school. By fall it is emptied and added to the raised beds before they go to sleep for the winter. As such, we do have a composting system that is working at the school, and the students are involved in their daily chores. But they rarely see the process in action. As an add on to this project, we requested a Lomi composter unit to be donated and it was. We were able to follow the instructions and within 24 hours our kitchen scraps were ‘cooked’ into compost.

Reflection & Celebration

Why we were so excited about doing this project, was that it is fun getting our hands dirty and it is fun to grow our own food. As a school we are fortunate to have parent volunteers cook a simple, vegetarian hot lunch 3 days a week and as the first dill, radishes, lettuce and cilantro came in from the greenhouse, the students themselves were very proud to place these out for sharing. The tree / shrub planting was fun too, but we will not know the direct benefits for a few years. Finally the composter experiment was super fun in creating awareness around the decomposition process in a sped up way! The balance of short term and long term actions is what is really neat about our project. It has given us food and compost in the short-term – but it will continue to have an impact for years to come!

1. No Poverty
2. Zero Hunger
3. Good Health and Well-Being
4. Quality Education
10. Reduced Inequalities
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
12. Responsible Consumption and Production
13. Climate Action
15. Life on Land
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