Forest Park’s Indoor Community Garden
Our vision for Canada is that children will have multiple opportunities to reconnect with nature, plants, and one another through our indoor community garden. During the long winter months, our community garden is a place where students can gather together to grow vegetables that will be cared for, harvested, and eaten by our children. Our project addresses the issue of the disconnect that exists between children and plants as well as the economic burden of having to buy produce from the store for our students. It is an important issue as children in our community are becoming increasingly isolated from nature and one another as they are spending large amount of time on screens. Additionally, our school offers a breakfast program each morning to our students. The intent is for the food our garden club grows to be used to supplement this program.
To make our vision of a community garden space come true, we will set-up grow lights within the accessible space of our front entrance/library to create a “plant wall”. Everyone within the school will be able to help tend to the plants and watch the growth as they pass through the space daily. Our project addresses environmental issues as we are growing our own food for student consumption. Social dimensions are addressed as the garden space will be a place for both students and staff to gather and learn from one another. Economic factors are also addressed as we will have to buy less produce from grocery stores for our breakfast program and instead, will consume the food we harvest during garden club. The youth members of garden club will have a say in the planning process (e.g. which plants they want to grow) and will take a leadership role as they take care of the plants in an engaged, hands-on way.
Reflection & Celebration
One of the highlights of our community garden project was seeing the original Garden Club members’ excitement when the plant wall was first installed. They were passionate to teach other children in the school all about gardening. Many other students joined in the tending of the plants as a result. Community members had nothing but positive things to say about our garden as they came to view it on a variety of different family nights. We have very limited space at our school so finding a place for our indoor garden was challenging. After careful consideration and consultation, our school decided upon mounting grow lights, racks, and containers to the wall of our front entrance space. This set-up has worked well for us. From this project, I learned of the power nature has to inspire children. They loved tracking the growth of their plants and even had “funerals” for the plants that didn’t make it. The level of engagement in both the students and staff and the two to three year lifespan of the grow lights will ensure that this project continues for years to come.