A brand new gardening space brightens up Swan Valley Regional Secondary School, thanks in part to a Healthy Together Now grant. Wanting to encourage healthy eating within their school and community, Kari Goethe, an educator at the school, thought the implementation of a garden would create healthy eating options while also encouraging physical activity and mental wellbeing. With the support of the school community, the idea grew into a reality.
After receiving the Healthy Together Now grant this past winter, SVRSS got to work creating their garden. The school’s carpentry department built the raised garden planters, giving students the opportunity to practice their building and designing skills. Prices of lumber altered the original plan for the garden; three rather than four planters were built out of composite decking instead of wood, making them durable and weather-resistant for the years to come. Two compost bins were also purchased to create a composting program. The garden area was complete during the last week of the school year; ACE hardware in Swan River generously donated plants for this season. A variety of tomato, pepper, cucumber, and cabbage plants were planted by staff and students. Staff are planning to help with upkeep over the summer and are hoping to have a great harvest. Already, progress has been made towards the project’s goals of increased physical activity and mental wellbeing, with Kari saying “[the garden] got everybody working together, building a sense of community within the school.”
Since the garden was established at the end of the school year, many of the students have yet to participate in the gardening. Plans for the continuation of the project in the upcoming school year include most of the school community, with staff members eager to get involved. “[The staff] think it’s a great idea for the school and are thinking of ways they can incorporate it into their own classrooms” explained Kari. She foresees students planting seeds indoors in their classroom greenhouse in the winter, then moving the plants into the outdoor garden later in the spring. The educators within the school’s special needs areas are excited the students will have an opportunity to care for the garden. Further additions to the outdoor space are planned for the fall involving several more vocational classes. The graphic design department will be involved in creating signage; the foods department is planning to take on the composting program; and a further addition to the space, a shed to house the gardening tools and hoses, will be built by the welding department. The local Hero club is also planning to help out next season by providing some garden maintenance over the summer.
The vision for the garden is that it will be open and accessible to everyone in the community, including students, staff, and community members: “Whoever can use it, take it,” explained Kari. The school is also hoping the garden will provide healthy eating options for the students by using the produce within the school’s cafeteria. “We’re looking forward to seeing success from it in the future years,” said Kari, and through continued involvement by the student body and community, the garden is expected to flourish.
Interested in receiving funding for a project focused on healthy eating, physical activity, mental well-being or tobacco prevention and reduction in your community? Visit Prairie Mountain Health’s ‘Healthy Together Now’ page for more information on eligibility and how to apply.