NEW MINAS – A growing student greenhouse initiative is giving back to community gardens whose plants were killed off by last week’s heavy frost.
A group of Evangeline Middle School students involved in the school’s Greenhouse Program donated 70 tomato and 20 squash plants to gardens involved with the Sharing Our Unappreciated Produce program.
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The program, headed by vice-principal and teacher Stephen Rovers, is a volunteer sign up yet has over 70 students giving their time and effort to tending to the plants – something Rovers said he wasn’t expecting.
“These students want to be here and want to help. We were looking for a time and recipient to donate to, and everything just fell into place,” he said.
The students arrive at the school each morning to water and care for the plants, which include tomatoes, basil, squash, chives and thyme.
Led by parent volunteer Sonya Shaw, a gardening expert, the students water, repot and prune the plants as necessary, ensuring they grow to their full potential.
Grade 8 student Maddie Myles, 13, is one of the volunteers. Getting involved was the first time she ever planted a plant herself, but she said planting and giving back both came naturally.
“My grandmother is a pro at planting, so I have some skills from her,” she said.
“It feels kind like respectful, or helpful. Since the frost, we gave all of our stuff to them. That felt nice,” she said.
Rovers described how the students assembled the greenhouse inside the school in October and began growing plant shoots that winter, keeping them inside until the weather warmed in March.
Once the greenhouse was brought outside, students worked together to build shelves to sit the plants on. The process has taught them a lot, according to Rovers.
“This project is teaching them a lot about teamwork, and to care for something that requires daily care. There are students who’ve come in to care for something that needs watering every morning since mid-March,” he said.
The program is funded mainly by several grants that selected it based on its community impact. Grade 8 student Liam Bosworth, also 13, said giving back has meant a lot to him and the other students.
“It’s pretty fun to just be around other people and help out with a pretty interesting project. I’ve never been involved with a project like this before,” he said.
“My favourite part is that part of what we grow goes to the community, part to the school and then part to replanting. I enjoy the fact that it helps the community.”