Hilson Avenue public school is one of the newest schools in Ottawa to green its schoolyard and incorporate an organic vegetable garden. When I contacted Hilson Avenue back in February, they were in the midst of a long term grand project to green their schoolyard located in Westboro. An organic vegetable garden seemed like a natural fit...they agreed! Since then, the garden project has blossomed, thanks in large part to two dedicated B. Ed. students who chose to pursue the garden at Hilson, as a social action project, something students are encouraged to design through the Global Cohort program of Ottawa U's B. Ed. program.
Thanks to Laura and Ailsa, eight teachers at the dual-track school are now participating in the garden project. The project at Hilson is an exemplary look at how school gardens can be used as educational tools across the curriculum, while providing and opportunity for students to be directly engaged in the design of their own school, instilling pride and in their surroundings and appreciation for their environment. Hilson Avenue's engagement also showcases how educators can build off Growing Up Organic's workshops, to integrate the garden into their pedagogy everyday by creating their own garden-based lessons and activities.
Early in the spring, Laura and Ailsa invited two classes to begin work on a garden care manual. Students researched the different vegetables that would be planted in the garden and created a bilingual booklet that includes instructions on how to plant the seeds, how to care for the plants as they grow, when to harvest them, and some ideas for enjoying the harvest!
A couple weeks ago, students got to work planting the first seeds outside, and creating artistic signs to identify their vegetables and add colour to the garden.
Yesterday, it was time to start squash seedlings. We started by identifying 17 edible seeds we could find in the kitchen: corn, rice, kidney beans, wheat, lentils, and even tiny mustard seed! Then we got to work planting heirloom varieties of summer and winter squash: yellow bush scallop squashes, table queen winter squash and yellow straightneck squash.
Thank you Hilson Avenue Public School for your enthusiasm and hard work! Don't forget to water!!