Jardin des élèves
Our vision for our Jardin des élèves (Student’s garden) is to create a holistic and indigenous place-based outdoor learning environment. The simple practices of giving students a leadership role in the production, maintenance, promotional and other duties have empowered students at our school and given FNMI and other second language learners an opportunity to have a voice in their education. Our ultimate goal is to have a holistic learning environment after year two.
Last year, my french immersion class of 20 grade 5 and 6 students built a plan for our garden. Very basic. Our original goal was to have 4 quadrants that represent the 4 quadrants of a Plan Cartésian – to support graphing and cross-curricular teachings for other students. From there we sent letters to local businesses to help donate machinery and time to get started.
Home Hardware – Tiller, Backhoe, some soils = Free
School Shop – Built the benches for around the school and garden = Grant from Ecoleague (good thing it was last year with prices)
Vegetables and Flowers – Students raised money by selling tomatoes during COVID Spring 2020. Seeds were free from Tomotosphere and we submit our totals of germination. I also have a grant through Little Green Thumbs so we have a green house in the class to support germination of plants and experiential learning. We raised 65$ last year. And purchased flowers from the photos. Unfortunately, during the summer Meadow Lake SK received high winds and tons of rain flooding our garden and killing everything once the drought of August hit and extreme sun blasted the tomatoes. We weren’t exactly sure how we were going to maintain over the summer and students weren’t at the school since March, but we continued planning through Microsoft Teams through online learning. Photos and such will support.
This year during 2021 Academic year we have continued where we left off and continued all the same programs, but improved our process and timing.
Straw and Tulips = We had tulips left over from previous years and a local farmer donated straw to cover the garden during the winter.
Flowers and Tomatoes sold as mother day packages = 165$
Purchased soil from a local company to build garden up = used the 100$ from Ecogrant 2nd cheque as well as school funds.
Students next week will be going with me in small groups to buy flowers at the local Extra Foods garden centre to build empowerment.
Next year we plan to incorporate a ‘greenhouse classroom’ designated to build a garden year-round. It will also be more accessible for teachers who typically stay inside. A extra-curricular gardening club will be started as well. This year we could not have clubs because Sask Health regulations. Students are exciting for gardening. Also our administration is on board to devote budget money to this cause of Eco-Sustainability with our garden. Future looks bright. More planning will be needed. Trees and shrubs around garden to provide a windbreak after last year failures.
Reflection & Celebration
Lots of trial and error. It is the only way to truly build and scaffold the knowledge. More planning is required and branching out to local businesses, knowledgeable community members and asking for help is necessary. Knowing ones limits physically and mentally.
Indigenizing the garden in a large goal for 2021 academic year starting fall. Our students are really into using our 2nd language as a stage through the garden so I have opened this to the other language teachers and we’re trying to build a sustainable cultural component to the garden supporting the First Peoples Perspective (very important in the North). Very early stages – planning and knowledge gathering.
As for planning a garden – we had nothing not even hoses so instead of bringing mine from home we are investing in a whole entire inventory of tools for the school, adding a compost and other essential components to a garden. We also need to plan our germination of flowers much earlier than last year as some aren’t too strong to stand the wind etc… in late May early June in Meadow Lake.
Students in the soil outside, rain or sun creates happy kids.
We have celebrating differently over the last year and a half during this on-going project.
1) Mini-celebrations -a) Taco party with first year mini-gardens during COVID Online-learning 2020May. (individual houses during an online class May 5th 2020. Cinqo de Mayo.
2) Salad parties throughout out school year after produce and other growing has taken place. 2020 Dec/ 2021Feb
3) Students celebrate sales from Tomatoes by buying flowers and plants for the garden (couple photos on lawn) 2020 during COVID distance learning June.
4) Students will buy plants, flowers, seeds, next week June 2021 for our garden. This will supplement other plants students have grown in our class over last 4 months.