The Mt Pleasant Elementary School Garden is a joyful, calm community space. It was created by the school community to encourage outdoor education, connection to nature and to share gardening skills for food security and community resilience. The garden was designed through collaboration between teachers and parent volunteers to be a place of active learning for all children, K - Grade 6.
The garden grew out of knowledge that years of research has demonstrated - our kids are likely to be happier, healthier and more engaged with each other and their community when they are learning outside together doing meaningful work.
Each grade has a designated raised garden box that they keep throughout their elementary journey. Each year they will learn about growing different crops so by the end of Grade 6 every child will have experienced growing a variety of crops and what is required for success, including the best growing conditions, crop rotation, pests and disease, harvesting and seed saving skills. This year was our first full year of growing.
Parent volunteers provided spring and fall workshops for each grade and teachers were encouraged to bring their kids down to the garden as often as possible to watch the garden grow and tend to their plants.
The Town of Hudson kindly filled our water barrels throughout the summer and parent volunteers and families came to water the garden on a rotating schedule with great success. By September the garden was overflowing with flowers, fresh vegetables including radish, carrots, kale, peas, beans, squash, herbs and garlic. During the summer months some of the produce was provided to a local food bank to ensure we had no waste!
As a parent who helped in the garden design and delivered workshops, it was a real joy to work with the whole school community and ultimately witness the children enjoying being in the garden and eating the vegetables they had grown together. They were so proud of their efforts! Our garden has also created excellent opportunities for community building as the garden is accessible for all local community members. This has resulted in new connections such as with local neighbours and parents who began tending to the garden throughout the summer months. A beautiful community space!
We have great plans for the garden area, this year the Home and School Association is aiming to add an outdoor classroom structure nearby which will facilitate water collection for the garden, making it self sufficient and providing may learning opportunities. The seeds we have saved will be used again next spring and we hope to expand the garden by planting more perennial fruit bushes and trees, building on our existing 6 tree apple orchard.