Tarbiyah students enjoy their time in the garden and help to create their own green space!
by Chantelle Misheal
What happens when you introduce gardens and plants to your students? Well, they get awfully interested in learning more! We’ve had such an amazing time working with the students of Tarbiyah Elementary School in Milton, ON and a large part of that is due to the students’ excitement of being in the garden!
Given the generous funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to provide programming around gardens, as well as the funding from the Ontario150 Youth Partnership Program to install a garden at two schools, we were more than fortunate to have the resources to allow the children to really dig deep and get their hands dirty as they learn more about the benefits of restoring natural habitat.
We started off with a workshop from our partners at EcoSource, who took us to the Iceland Teaching Garden with 30 students from Tarbiyah. The girls got a first hand look at a community garden with a tour and basic information about everything that was growing, as well got the chance to help contribute to the garden by first making room in the garden beds for new seedlings to be planted.
Initially, I was worried someone would be terrified of getting their hands dirty. Soon enough, I realized the girls were racing to plant more seedlings and were eager to learn more! Learning about the processes of the garden helps to reconnect us to the process of food, and allows for a greater appreciation for the food we are so fortunate to have. The time outside was beneficial as their school is surrounded by quite a bit of concrete, and there isn’t too much opportunity to spend time in the garden.
As we celebrate Canada 150, we have also made it a point to ensure we are acknowledging what 150 years really means. We’ve turned our efforts towards honouring the land and its original caretakers, looking for the support from Six Nations and the Indigenous Council to help us make this project representative of what the next 150 years will be through Truth and Reconciliation.
Sherry Caevil, the Aboriginal Liason Officer for the Halton Catholic District School Board, offered to take us to visit Six Nations. We were interested by the Kayanase Greenhouse and the amazing selection of native species, so we’ve made the decision to purchase most, if not all, of the plants for the schools from this greenhouse. After a tour and a quick bite at the Burger Barn, we left Six Nations with open minds and open hearts, a full belly and a van jam packed with beautiful plants!
You can plan your next visit to Grand River with a little help from this website!
BUILD DAY AT TARBIYAH
On June 13th, we held our official Canada 150 Build Day at Tarbiyah Elementary School. Planning around a shorter school schedule, busy last weeks at school and also being mindful that the students were celebrating Ramadan, made this build day nothing short of exciting! We were visited by MP Indira Naidoo-Harris who gave a special speech to the girls before we “broke ground”.
With a focus on native species, we invited Erin from Conservation Halton to teach the girls a little more of the importance of natural habitat. Luckily, the rain held off long enough for us to do the majority of the planting, but we will have to return over the summer to complete the rest of the garden beds. Even with most of the students fasting, so many wanted to continue working throughout the day to be involved in the garden!
While all the fun was happening outside for the older grades, I hosted a few sessions with the younger grades making some seed balls to help transform the bushy areas around the school! Students were more than happy for the opportunity to help the bees and butterflies and eagerly asked to make more to take home for their own gardens.
Pictures will be up soon to show you the before and after of our wonderful garden, which includes a new rain barrel to help our thirsty plants this summer! With plans already underway for our next garden, we are optimistic and hoping for the same reaction from our students at Christ the King Secondary School in Georgetown.
Stay tuned to see what projects we’re working on! Follow us on Instagram and Twitter at @GSSHaltonPeel. See you next time in the garden! This article originally appeared on Faith and the Common Good on June 26th, 2017.