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Since the spring of 2012 at Highland Secondary School, many hard-working, dedicated students have been getting back to the basics by developing our new sustainable school garden.
As times change and we become more and more aware of climate change and environmental issues, we are faced with the fact that we must find new and innovative ways to combat this.
Our school’s Eco-Team had been working for a very long time on issues such as recycling, composting, and a myriad of other environmental projects. In the fall of 2011 the Eco-Team handed off the challenging task of daily composting the school’s fruits and vegetables to the Foods Department.
An application had gone in to the school district by foods teacher Mrs. Mann to start a school garden. By the spring of 2012, construction was slated to begin on the perimeter fence and after a week’s work, the garden was finally in place.
This garden was to be used by the Foods Department so it was decided that they would take the reins and guide the project to its completion.
In early May, only a few weeks after the fence was completed, a small group of Foods students started the first big project. We spent those next few weeks constructing six four-by-four-feet raised garden beds, and the beginnings of our standalone shed.
Another cooking class also used the space to grow new potatoes as a part of the Spuds In Tubs program.
In late June after exams, a small army of environmentally conscious students got together on the first day of their summer break to prepare the garden for the summer. We planted raspberries and rhubarb, moved our five composters into their new spots in our garden and mixed the garden soils into the new beds.
As summer break passed, I started the process of beginning an independent study for the following school year. Under the guidance of Mrs. Mann, I would lead the garden project and work to provide our school kitchens with a local source of fruits, vegetables and herbs. In addition, I would be pioneering the schools garden club and working toward my future career of being a teacher.
In the beginning of this school year, in my construction 11/12 class I started the task of building the new garden shed. While we worked on finishing the project, I was also planting three new fruit trees and four blueberry bushes.
Once these projects were finished, a new rainbarrel system was set up on the back of the new shed and four beds of garlic were planted. In addition, the Eco-Team raked 24 bags of leaves for our composters.
Our future plans include more raised beds, year round greens and a variety of other small projects. I will also work to bring students to the awareness that we can grow what we need in a sustainable, biodynamic garden within educational and home environments.
In addition, I will host elementary and secondary classes to explore my future plans of becoming a teacher. I am passionate about gardening and would love to pass on my knowledge to my peers as well as future generations.
Greg Murray is a Grade 11 student.