Vankleek Hill Collegiate’s (VCI) new Green Industries class is receiving tremendous support from the community and local businesses, with donations pouring in for the course, just in time for outdoor planting on the school’s property.

“It’s been incredible,” said teacher Tamany Booth, of the more than $6,500 in the class has raised through donations and plant sales since The Review published an article on the class in the April 26 edition.

The donations have allowed students in Green Industries – which focuses on learning about how to help the environment through sustainability projects – proceed with their planned activities, including the planning and building of a school-wide compost system, installing flowers and vegetable gardens, planting a fruit orchard, and building a greenhouse.

The support has also encouraged the students, and the school, to look towards ideas for future years and how members of the community can become more involved in the project.

“It’s definitely made me think about next year and what are the possibilities,” Booth commented. “One of the things it’s made me very aware of is how the community could be involved in the course.”

Lessons emphasized in VCI’s Green Industries class are not just about saving the planet. Students also learn real-world business tools and have to consider such things as costs and sustainability of their projects. To help involve the community, ideas include bringing in guest speakers from local farms and businesses, and field trips to local sites. The class was scheduled to visit the Vankleek Hill Tulip Fields during the week of May 30 to June 3 to learn about the operation.

“I know the tulips are done, but the kids really seem to like the business side of it,” Booth said, adding she is expecting lots of questions from the students to the tulip farm’s owners.

The most important tasks for the students this spring has been the ongoing outdoor projects on the school’s grounds, which began as the weather warmed up in late May. It’s the culmination of ongoing growth in the Green Industries course’s first year of being offered at VCI.

VCI students Montgomery Campeau (left) and Palace Pete at work planting one of the trees on the school’s property. Submitted Photo

“It’s gotten stronger as we’ve gone on and that’s largely from community support,” Booth said. “We would have struggled to achieve everything we have if we didn’t have the community support and the fundraising.”

Students have already planted more than a dozen fruit trees on the property, installed the new greenhouse and have completed a makeover on the garden at the front of the school. New flowers are also being planted in the courtyard within the school and raised garden beds are ready for installation.

“We came out with big ideas for the project and fortunately we’ve been able to see it all come to fruition,” Booth enthused of the student projects and support from the community.

Future revenue will be maintained by creating income from the gardens, orchards and compost systems created by the students, who plan on selling worm castings, along with vegetables, flowers and fruit. Donations continue to be welcome to help with the various projects. Anyone wishing to contribute can email Tamany Booth at [email protected], or contact one of the students from the class. Tax receipts are available from the school.

In addition to several anonymous private donors, local businesses which have donated to the VCI Green Industries course so far include Roy’s Accounting Office, MacEwen Gas Station, Pawsitively Perfect Pets, Howe’s Farm Equipment, Deppaneur Lalonde, Levac Furniture, Hillcrest Funeral Home, Cliftondale Construction, Jade Garden, and Garden Path Homemade Soap.

VCI Teacher Tamany Booth and student Nathan Baron plant a creeping phlox plant. Submitted Photo

Left to right: Mitchell Durocher, Jordan Anderson, Llivethan Suppiah and Vincent Lalonde in front of the green house constructed by students in Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute’s Green Industries class. Photo: Reid Masson