The YMCA Academy is located right in the heart of the downtown core, however we do our best to stay as connected to the environment as possible. We have a green wall, plants all around the school and even a vermicompost! One of the highlights of our annual YMCA Cedar Glen trip is the time we spend on the farm, planting, harvesting and caring for the grounds. It is so nice to see the students getting their hands dirty, being outside away from technology, and finding relaxation in this work. For all of these reasons we decided to build our very own urban garden on one of the terraces connected to our school!
Step 1: Design
Our Green Industries class designed sub-irrigated planter boxes. With the location of the terrace, distance of a water source and direct sunlight, it was important that the planter boxes were designed with these limitations in mind.
Students in our Gardening Club, and Green Industries class worked together to build and assemble the bins. Building these bins required students to have a strong grasp of the design, collaborate with each other and follow the design instructions.
Our Personal Fitness class spent the morning hauling heavy soil and materials to the terrace garden. Each of the bins required several bags of soil so the team had lots to carry! Students were instructed on proper carrying techniques to avoid injury.
Every student in the school was assigned one plant to bring in for the garden. Once they were all brought in our Green Industries class organized and planted them. Students brought in an excellent variety of herbs, vegetables, fruit, and flowers that attract bees and butterflies.
As a community of staff, students and volunteers we all play a role in caring for our garden. Depending on the weather, the gardens are watered once a week and checked on each day for changes, needs and the opportunity to harvest.
The fresh vegetables in the garden were harvested by students daily, many vegetables and herbs such as cherry tomatoes, chives, and green were harvested for lunch time snacks and cooking club. The majority of hot peppers were harvested by the students in the 7 / 8 program and made into hot sauce!
It has been incredible to see the impact the garden has had on our school community since the garden has been built and begins to grow. Many students and staff have expressed how much they love getting the opportunity to spend time outside and around the plants. Many of us are over the moon when something begins to grow, fruit, or is ready for harvest. One of our students in particular has expressed that a quick visit to the garden helps to settle him, reduce stress and anxiety and gets him ready to focus in class.
Overall the garden has been a great success and we are looking forward to expanding our garden even more next season!
Take a look at our Hot Sauce blog to see what we did with this years harvest and check out the rest the rest of the pictures on our Facebook page!