July 26, 2017
ERIN, Ontario – Beautiful things are growing at Erin Public School. For the third year, teaching gardens are growing at the K-8 school.
The gardens are situated in various locations around the school, and feature a mix of pollinator-friendly flowers and vegetables.
The idea for the gardens started a few years ago with Kindergarten teacher Mr. Adair, who wanted to transform the school’s outdoor learning space. Mr. Adair, teachers Mrs. Rowe and Mr. Curry along with school volunteer Jen Edwards have embraced the gardens and work to keep them beautiful and bountiful. Edwards maintains the gardens throughout the summer months – planting, watering and weeding – and has added many educational signs throughout the space.
Many of the plants were started from seed in the school, before being moved outside for planting in the warmer months.
Students can come out to the gardens for lessons and to help plant. In the fall, they will help harvest. Food from the gardens is in the classroom, by the school’s Cooking Club, and will go home with students to eat.
Features of the garden include a butterfly and pollinator garden, filled with bee and butterfly-friendly plants like bee balm and lamb’s ear for bees, milkweed for monarch butterflies and butterfly bush to attract all types of butterflies. Many of the beds contain companion plants, like marigolds, to help keep pests away naturally.
The variety of vegetables growing is impressive: asparagus, tomatoes, corn, broccoli, blue potatoes, beans, many types of herbs and more.
The grounds also have a tree nursery, featuring trees that were started from seeds in the classroom, a forest exploration trail, and a compost system that was built by Transition Erin. Throughout the school year, students will empty food scrap buckets into the compost bins and finished compost is used in the gardens to improve the soil.
A complimentary project started by Edwards is the creation of a seed library. In the fall, seeds taken from the Erin PS teaching gardens are placed in packets in the seed library. Members of the community can borrow seeds to use in their garden, and then return new seeds at the end of the season. To date, she has lent out 150 seed packages, many of them from the Erin PS gardens.