The “We Can Sea Can”
Our pre-existing community garden at the Career and Technology Centre at Central Memorial High School is being worked on by many students in order to keep it running and in beautiful shape for our use as well as the communities. However, with the climate in Calgary, we (including the community) are only able to enjoy the garden a little less than half of the year if we’re lucky. Our shipping container indoor community grow space makes it possible to enjoy a garden all year round, which is a privilege little people can enjoy. In addition, this opportunity will make our community garden more practical when thinking about providing for the Culinary program at our school. Ultimately, by stretching the typical limitations a community garden faces in our climate, we are able to have a broader vision for success that will, in no doubt, carry over into other aspects of our lives. We want other communities that experience less than ideal growing winter climates to be able to build off of our project. This way, communities in Northern Canada would be able to grow their own food, and really reduce the cost and ecological footprint created by shipping fresh produce to them. We want to encourage this farm to table movement, and motivate community members to learn about where their own food comes from, and how we can receive this food more sustainably.
We are proposing to recycle an old shipping container and modify it to become an indoor community garden space. As a connection to our current community garden, we have decided to build upon this project for many reasons:
1) We want to make a difference in our community.
2) We want to find greener ways to produce our own fresh and local greens, and as an addition to this we would be able to supply greens and some vegetables for our Culinary program.
3) We want to create an opportunity for experimentation with growing technologies and renewable energy technologies for our EEI program.
4) We want to provide members of our community with a space to grow their desired plants, like in the community garden, but all year long.
Students started with research on how to successfully create an indoor garden from a shipping container. This is how we came into contact with Mark Van Engelen. He has experience from created his own small business by selling local greens that he grew in a shipping container to restaurants here in Calgary. He explained the logistics, materials and strategies that would lead us to success. This is when the students involved in the projects started creating a design: they took our previous knowledge and experience with hydroponics systems and integrated that into our project.
We have reached out to a connection from CN for a donation of a shipping container and are looking forward to getting it here in the near future.
Students then sought out experts in all fields. Our program is partnering CTC’s Pre-Engineering class where students from this program with be helping us with the automation of the system (water and energy). Central’s construction class was also contacted by students, and they will be receiving help and expertise on framing and insulating to maximize our growing conditions. Construction students will also be helping us with the construction of the container. Students from the EEI program were also in contact with Central’s PVA Art program where their students will be creating an environmental mural on the outside of the shipping container, which will relieve the shipping container’s reputation of being an ‘eyesore’. One of the Art teachers is applying for grants in hopes of getting a professional muralist to come in and teach the students some skills, with their final project as our shipping container.
Youth have displayed huge levels of leadership in this project. From contacting and collaborating with fellow students and teachers within the school, holding community input evenings and reaching out to experts, these students have been excellent leaders!
Reflection & Celebration
We still have a long ways to go! This project had many barriers, but our students have learned to be very patient as a result! We are still waiting for the shipping container to arrive on campus, but the students involved in this project are still very motivated. They are committed to staying on the project for the following year, which is amazing. Our teachers and admin involved in this project are also very committed to seeing this project through into the next school year. Next year, we plan on having a fully functioning indoor community grow space!