A.R. MacNeill Green Team
- Grade 8
- Grade 9
- Grade 10
- Grade 11
- Grade 12
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A.R. MacNeill Secondary
Our school focuses a lot on gardening and we challenged ourselves to see how far we could stretch the use of our garden to promote learning, benefit the community, show the positive reasons to have a garden and help protect the environment.
We strategically chose a variety of things to grow over the summer that would create big impacts.
First there was food. We grew an assortment of fresh produce. We learned how much work it took to grow food from seed but we also learned how impactful it was for people to eat these fresh, pesticide free foods that came from their own school grounds.
We tried to grow things that would be ready before the school year ended, such as carrots, peas, herbs and salad greens. Next we ran a delivery service where teachers, students and parents could order produce that we would deliver (lowering their need to commute to a grocery store, and giving them fresh and healthier options). Some students remarked that our carrots were the best they had ever eaten! Much of the produce was also provided to our foods classes so that they had fresh ingredients.
We also have a plot dedicated to pollinator friendly plants and became one of the first Butterflyway Project Schools in Richmond with support from the David Suzuki foundation.
We also used what we were growing to create other products. We made ice cream with all-natural ingredients that was infused with rosemary, lemon balm, lavender and mint from our garden. We also created salves using local beeswax and oil that was infused with our garden’s lavender flowers to show a simple way to replace moisturizers and creams that are mass produced with multiple ingredients that are anything but natural. We also used our herbs to make cookies that were very popular!
During the summer, dedicated students harvested and donated produce to our local food bank.
Currently we are getting our gardens ready outside and have purchased an indoor aeroponic tower to keep the greens growing all year round! This helped our science teacher and foods teacher find a common ground to work together.
After one full season, with only six garden beds our school was able to create multiple products, we were able to support our teachers, we were able to support pollinators, we were able to feed lots of people, and we were able to do it all without the use of pesticides! Gardening can be hard work and requires dedication and a team effort. Our school community was greatly impacted by our efforts and we can’t wait to start the next season. Growing your own food is truly beneficial, sustainable and educational. We recommend anyone to grow their own produce in their backyard, on their balcony, indoors and at their schools!