Nutrients for Life Foundation Canada, a registered Canadian charity, has launched a network to support the growth of school gardens in Canadian middle and high schools.
The hub is a new website, www.schoolgardennetwork.ca that provides a showcase for existing gardens, links to new curriculum resources and points to community resources that can help schools interested in joining the trend.
Picking up on the flourishing number of community gardens in cities across Canada, schools are increasingly looking to their schoolyards as a valuable teaching resource, giving teachers a powerful experiential learning tool that can support a broad cross-section of subject areas across all grades.
“Our own focus is on the science of agriculture, introducing a new generation to Canada’s potential to help feed the world’s growing population. But we’re just as excited to help schools that might have a different focus such as nutrition, organic or heritage gardening. This network can help existing school gardens develop best practices, identify new community resources and help other schools plan their own first steps to building a school garden,” said Tim Woods, executive director of Nutrients for Life as the network was announced in conjunction with the International Science Student Fair at the University of Manitoba.
“The network’s website already has dozens of stories from school gardens, each one being an inspiration for others to follow. We have also commissioned a curriculum mapping project and garden-based learning resource activity guide tailored for British Columbia that can be adapted for other provinces,” said Woods.
Education research on school gardens is also on the rise, as evidence mounts to the role of gardens in promoting healthy diets, building life skills, increasing environmental awareness, improving learning outcomes and meeting the needs of students with disabilities.
“We’re confident this initiative is going to attract many new community partners willing to volunteer their time and expertise, and donors that would like to see young people have the opportunity to learn more about food security issues, and even careers in the agricultural sector,” said Woods.
The School Garden Network hopes to launch additional programs to allow schools to share their garden experience with others inside and outside Canada, to offer free soil-testing services and to build an archive of “how-to” and garden-based educational videos by a broad range of experts.
Nutrients for Life also develops free educational resources that address aspects of sustainable food security for middle and high school students. Visit www.nutrientsforlife.ca to learn more. The School Garden Network is a new initiative that will be managed by Nutrients for Life.