On August 30, Glencairn Public School kicked off a new school year with a symbolic passing of its school garden from summer program students back to the school.

Led by teacher Katherine Brown, the Glencairn garden has become a spot to cultivate unity and learning since its inception in 2019. In 2022, the garden was expanded from two planters to four, thanks to student leadership and grants from the Youth in Food Systems garden grants. Smart Waterloo Region Innovation Lab (SWRIL) also funded & led this year’s Nurture program, offering stipends to youth who cultivated the garden over the summer.

Student watering the garden at Glencairn Public School.

A summer student watering the garden at Glencairn Public School.

The garden, which was tended to by past and present Glencairn students, encourages a ‘near-peer learning style, where students of various ages work to support one another.

This coming year, students will use the garden to learn essential life skills, including how to grow and cultivate food, while developing an understanding of proper nutrition and food security.

The garden also featured traditional companion planting techniques. This traditional planting method, mutually benefits the crops, as they support each other. This type of planting illustrates to students the interconnectedness of nature.

Vegetables are picked when ripe and are sold at Youth Food Markets hosted at Chicopee Community Centre and Eastwood Collegiate Institute throughout the summer. The produce is sold at half the price of traditional grocery stores, making fresh and nutritious food accessible to those who need it most and helping to address food insecurity concerns. Proceeds from the market will fund Youth in Food Systems programs.

Similar gardens can be found at several Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), including Floradale Public School, Franklin Public School, Eastwood Collegiate Institute, and Rockway Public School. Together, these gardens foster a sense of community and shared responsibility for sustainability and education.

A special thanks to the 2023 Summer Growers Krithik, Dante, Haru, Daniel, Jacob and Phillip, who worked to cultivate the Glencairn garden over the summer,

As the Glencairn Public School garden enters a new school year, it remains a vibrant symbol of growth, learning, and community spirit. With its strong commitment to sustainability, education, and accessibility, it serves as an inspiration for schools across the region.

Categories: Feature