Glengarry District High School students recently created a community garden that will benefit area residents while teaching students new skills.

The Communities in Bloom Project has created and planted five vegetable garden boxes at the Community Living Glengarry Day Centre in Alexandria. The new gardens are being used to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, beans, peppers, onions, broccoli, and lettuce – some of which were grown by students from seed. Intermediate students devised and planned the garden as part of a multidisciplinary project involving math, language arts, and science skills. Grade 12 construction technology students built the boxes. They are in the process of building benches that people can sit on while enjoying the new garden.

Community Living clients will have access to the garden. They will maintain it as part of their programming, and will also benefit from the food grown there.

“It was a great opportunity for our students to gain some of the skills they’ll need should they choose the trades,” said Lindsey Howes, the intermediate teacher in charge of the project. “It was an opportunity to learn by doing.”

The program also took students on a visit to Marlin Orchard and Garden Centre in Cornwall, where the owner talked with students about “companion gardening” – what vegetables to plant alongside each other to ensure the best growth. In addition, students learned about career possibilities around greenhouses and orchards.

The initiative provided valuable lessons in mathematics and design, as intermediate students were asked to draw scale diagrams of their garden, and had to use math to figure out how much soil was needed for the boxes, how deep to plant the vegetables, and how much space was needed between the plants. They were also asked to use math skills to determine expected yields from the garden, and work out how much it would cost to buy an equivalent amount of vegetables at the grocery store.

The garden project was paid for through an Experiential Learning and Community Partnership Grant from the Ontario Ministry of Education.