June 22, 2023 (Cornwall, ON) – Students learning at the Dev Hotel and Conference Center, which has been serving as a satellite location for newcomer students set to attend Bridgewood Public School, are reaping what they sow after winning top prize in the Canada-Wide LSF Empowering Youth for Climate Action Awards.
The Climate Action Award came with a $3,000 grand prize that will go toward funding and enhancing an outdoor learning space at Bridgewood P.S.
The class began the growing project in January with help from Williamstown Public School Kindergarten teacher, and recent Red Apple Award winner, Rose MacCulloch, and local hydroponic manufacturer ZipGrow Inc. The company donated an indoor hydroponic system to create a ‘growing wall’, where Grades 3 to 6 students were able to by plant, water, and monitor the indoor garden.
The outdoor garden process began in March, with all the plants relocated to a permanent location on the east side of the building in June. Vegetables in the garden include cucumber, tomato, jalapeno and eggplant.
Dev Centre students are new to Canada and are offered the opportunity to learn essential social skills and English prior to being immersed into the Canadian school system at Bridgewood Public School. They come from various countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru. For many, this project was their first experience with gardening – and the first time using hydroponic methods for all.
“I learned that plants need sun, plants need rain and soil like this to grow,” said Grade 5 student Usman Jan, who’s favourite vegetable is tomatoes.
I liked watching everything grow,” added Grade 4 student Reeman Awadalla. “My favourite part is watering every day.
“Having this real-world learning experience in the classroom really helps engage the students because we started with meaning,” explains Crystal Seguin, a teacher at the Dev Centre and the one who spearheaded this project. “Food is something that connects all of us, and for them to experience it hands-on, in real-world experiences, really means a lot more than learning from a video or a textbook. Food has really brought this class together and engaged them in learning language.”
The community garden was able to teach students all aspects of the curriculum, including language development, math, social studies and science.
“This has been an exciting project that has been driven by the students,” said Bridgewood Public School Principal Julie Pollock-Iwachniuk. “Not only have they continued to build their English vocabulary through this RWL opportunity, but the project has connected many community partners with our school. We are thrilled that this community garden will benefit the newcomers to Canada throughout the summer. It’s a project we hope to continue in the fall.”
The project also transformed a classroom initiative into a collaborative community effort, with the assistance of the UCDSB’s real-world learning team, including high school students and staff from the green industries class at Cornwall Collegiate & Vocational School (CCVS), Malyon Excavation, who provided the soil, Transition Cornwall+, who helped plant the garden, and The Dev Centre, who provided the garden site, and loaned the tools.