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A growing success story

Hugh John Macdonald Garden web.jpg

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 accumulate. 

“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 as well.”

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 agencies.

 “We try to get everyone involved in the garden as much as possible,” Ms. Elliot said.


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