Kemptville school partners with local Giving Garden

Photo submitted by Upper Canada District School Board

Grade 6 classes at Kemptville Public School (KPS) have partnered with the Giving Garden to bring real world learning and Indigenous education opportunities to the students and the wider community.

The Giving Garden is located at the Ferguson Forest Centre and is a community garden, run by volunteers. Sandra Pignon, Grade 6 Teacher at KPS, approached the group earlier this year to introduce them to the concept of Real-World Learning and to see if they would be interested in a partnership with the school. The group was excited by the opportunity and met with the students to explain how the garden works, what they hope to accomplish, and some problems they’ve encountered that the students could help them with.

The students went to work and developed various presentations, focusing on the concerns of the volunteers, or “clients” as they became known by the class. The presentations tackled topics such as community awareness, Indigenous considerations, and pest control.  

“I was so impressed with them! They are so techy and had wonderful presentations and didn’t miss a beat,” said Giving Garden volunteer Michelle McEvoy.

Ultimately, the group decided on a few directions for the project that included the construction of scarecrows to keep birds and groundhogs out of the area, as well as the planting of a traditional Indigenous three sisters garden, and the design and installation of Land Acknowledgement signs throughout the space.

With the focus of the project determined, the students began planning how to best implement their ideas.

“They treated it very much like a business,” said teacher Sandra Pignon. “We had managers, district managers and so on. There were emails, letters and presentations. Research on how to plant. It really brought the curriculum to life for them. It was so nice to see them so excited for Giving Garden Day!”

The students were enthusiastic about a learning opportunity that gave them a chance to work with their hands. Student Maddex Simon explained how they designed the scarecrows to be movable. “We’re putting tubes in the ground and we’re going to have them all around the garden. Then we’re going to be able rotate the scarecrows so the animals don’t get suspicious about them.”

He also noted the challenges they faced, and how they had to alter their design during the process. “We couldn’t get the head on at first, so we tried different things and then just added them together and it finally worked.”

“We put all of our goals towards this and then we got to meet our goal to help with the garden,” added student Savanna Van Den Bos. 

Mandie Bates, a parent of one of the students, appreciated how the project is getting students involved in their learning. “It’s great to see the kids get into the dirt and really get their hands in there. We’re all literally covered in dirt! Everybody is using the tools and is very respectful and they each have their tasks that are assigned. It’s really, really impressive to see.” 

The project has been beneficial for the students, the Giving Garden and the community.

“The garden is meant for giving. At this time of food instability, it’s a perfect opportunity,” said McEvoy.  “And the children are very clever, they know what’s going on. So here’s a simple answer that can help.”

“It’s nice for them to realize that as young people, you can contribute to the community,” added Pignon. “It’s very easy to be a part of and to give back and I think that’s a really great lesson for them too.”

Looking forward, Pignon is optimistic that the project can continue, and the school can highlight the garden for years to come. “The Giving Garden has been very supportive and a fabulous partner, so it would be nice see the same process happen again, and to see what their next steps are and what goals they have in mind.”

The six scarecrows have been installed and the 3 sisters garden consisting of corn, squash and beans have also been planted. The Land Acknowledgement signs that were designed by the students are being printed and will be placed at the location later this month.

Submitted by the Upper Canada District School Board


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