In the weeks following Cultivate, schools across the country began closing due to COVID-19. We knew that this unanticipated situation would impact projects, however, we are encouraged by the efforts of teachers and students across the province who have been able to pivot and continue to explore agriculture leadership. Below is a highlight of a few school teams who have really impressed us with their quick thinking, and we will continue to follow up with schools in the 2020/2021 school year as things improve and intended projects are reinvigorated.
Inside Education would like to acknowledge Grow Alberta. Efforts from Robert Thirsk and Morinville are born of inspiration from Adam Robb’s students at the Career and Technology Centre (CTC) in Calgary. Adam is no stranger to Inside Education! We love what happens at CTC and are so pleased to see teachers sharing their creative ideas to highlight the importance of our relationship to food.
Robert Thirsk High School
While initial plans for an “Agriculture 101” week at Robert Thirsk were put on hold, a new and exciting project emerged! “Our team noticed that COVID-19 has brought a focus on the attachment to food and inspired a new generation of gardeners. Staying involved with projects occurring even during COVID, our team, a small group of Natural Science students and a small group of environmental educators helped organize and bring to fruition an initiative known as Grow Alberta. This group was able to raise funds and resources to create starter garden kits for many school communities in Calgary….The team decided that the Grow Alberta initiative needs to continue year over year and would like to incorporate this idea into next year’s project.”
– Warren Lake, Robert Thirsk High School
Morinville High School
“Inspired by the Grow Alberta Initiative, we started a “Seeds for Students” program where any student in the school could sign up to receive free seeds, soil and containers. We had approximately 70 students sign up and start their own gardens! They all participate in sharing photos and stories in a google classroom and we made some instructional youtube videos for first time gardeners.”
– Neil Korotash, Morinville Community High School
Bill Woodward School
“We have made a collaborative effort with our Land-based learning department. We have purchased a greenhouse as a combined learning space. We, the Agriculture class, will use it to grow our plants and experiment with growing methods. We will also grow and learn about local flora that has been used traditionally and medicinally in our area with Elders of our community and the Land-based learning classes. We are very excited about this mutually beneficial partnership and consider this one of the bright sides of the chaos in our planning process.”
– Justin Grainger, Bill Woodward School
Mistassiniy School had lots of growing action in their greenhouse this spring!
As you are well aware due to covid-19, our on-site classes at school were cancelled shortly after returning from Olds College. Students were not permitted to participate. However, we did make an initial start to our plan as shown in the photos below. It has been a cold and wet spring here but we have had some successes.
In addition, shortly after returning we were informed that our school will be demolished in the near future and a new school will be under construction starting spring 2021. The Principal has indicated that we will need a new plan as the existing area will be levelled. We plan to meet with interested students in 2020-21 to discuss a replacement plan.
Thank you for everything we learned at the conference and we look forward to
participation again in the future to assist in us moving forward with the
“cultivation” of the North.
Queen Elizabeth (YEG)
Plans are well underway with Queen Elizabeth’s school and community garden plans, and partnerships are blossoming with neighbouring community leagues and local businesses. The first phase of the project will involve the installation of raised bed vegetable gardens, followed by the installation of a food forest and providing students opportunities to earn course credit for helping with planning, landscaping and planting.
-James Stuart, Queen Elizabeth School
“Plans are in motion to build a Geodesic dome Greenhouse to be functioning in Winter 2021 and have plant sales in spring of 2021. We will be installing solar panels and using natural gas.
We are hoping to build another greenhouse in the next year or two. We have partnered with the Village of Rosemary, building an outdoor community garden. This garden has already been started. A chicken coop is being constructed with a start date of spring 2021. All of the farming that will be done will be student driven with supervision from community and staff members.”
-Shannon Thiessen, Rosemary School