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While Hugh John Macdonald School
was selected as a winner of a 2014 Manitoba Garden Makeover Award, the school’s
green space project has been a success story since 2010.
The Hugh John Macdonald Students’
Garden offers students and the community a chance to learn and enjoy nature.
Community members can sit and relax in the garden and even pick some vegetables
if they wish. Approximately 10-15 students are hired to look after the garden
over the summer, providing an early employment opportunity.
“We look for students who are
really interested in what we are doing and have that willingness to learn,”
said teacher Karyl Elliot. “Each of the students has their own section to look
after. They learn so many skills through this.”
One student gardener said much of
the work involves watering, weeding and picking up litter that might
“It’s fun getting to know everyone too,” he added.
“We mostly just took care of the
plants and made sure they were growing well,” said another student gardener, who came to Canada from Kenya two years ago. He said the toughest part of the job was the
mosquitoes. “But we had that in Kenya too.”
He added the garden was a great
opportunity for students.
“People are getting a chance to
learn how to grow...one day, when they’re older, they can grow a garden in
their own backyard.”
The garden takes shape in the
classroom during the cold months of the year. Students learn to budget and purchase
plants to be used in the spring.
“Everything starts in the classroom,”
said Raymond Ngarboui, who is the Community Economic Development Association
(CEDA) worker at Hugh John Macdonald. “Most of the students here are involved
in the garden during the school year. We’re developing leadership qualities
with these students. We encourage them to bring their families and involve them
Students are given a blue box full
of seedlings and soil to take home, and excess soil is offered for community use.
A spin-off of the green space
project is From Garden to the Table, a nutrition program. Produce from the
garden is taken directly to the school’s newly renovated kitchen space, where
students can learn how to cook through partnerships with other community
“We try to get everyone involved in the garden
as much as possible,” Ms. Elliot said.