Students at Elmbank Junior Middle Academy grow garden with help of The Rotary Club of Etobicoke and PACT

News May 23, 2014 by Tamara Shephard Etobicoke Guardian

The Elmbank Junior Middle Academy garden is growing not only students’ awareness of environmental sustainability, but also yielding lessons in math, science, and even arts and social studies.

Nearly all the kindergarten to Grade 8 students plant, water or weed in the large garden of 29 raised beds soon to be teeming with varieties of lettuce, radishes, peas, kale, cabbage, broccoli, garlic, carrots and onions then tomatoes and eggplant.

Elmbank’s harvest is shared with nearby Jamestown Food Bank and sold at the Sorauren Farmers’ Market.

Elmbank’s garden, sponsored by The Rotary Club of Etobicoke, is one of five PACT Grow-to-Learn Schoolyard Gardens in the city the organization calls “living classrooms”. PACT gardens are planted at other Etobicoke schools, including Lakeshore Collegiate, Thistletown Collegiate and West Humber Collegiate, and at John Polanyi Collegiate in North York.

PACT or Participation, Acknowledgement, Commitment and Transformation Urban Peace Program is a social-based organization, working mainly with at-risk and under-served youth in priority neighbourhoods in the city through partnerships with the Toronto District School Board, Toronto police, the courts and other community organizations.

The garden is a “transformative place,” said Christine O’Brien, who divides her teaching duties between ESL and primary science at the Finch Avenue West and Martin Grove Road-area school.

“I’ve been teaching here 15 years and this is one of the best positive spaces in the school,” O’Brien said, noting the garden provides peaceful exploration, a coveted nature experience, while promoting health and access to healthy, free food.

“Some kids want to go out there because they like to plant. Others want to go out there and burn off energy,” O’Brien explained. “All our teachers support the kids’ involvement in the garden and most of our students are in there.”

O’Brien’s class did a drama skit in the garden pretending it was pioneer days. Other teachers have used the garden to grow students’ vocabulary or as a subject for sketches in art class.

For some students, it is a thing of wonder.

“One instructor pulled a carrot out of the ground. The kids’ eyes opened wide. ‘Is that where a carrot comes from?’ some of them asked. It’s very powerful,” O’Brien said.

Unseasonably cold temperatures one day this month didn’t deter students from throwing on jackets and heading out to tend their fledgling crops.

PACT established the program six years ago with a goal of teaching at-risk youth how to grow and share food. Since, PACT has expanded the program to meet community need, transforming unused space into bountiful gardens where children and youth learn about harvesting food, sustainability and community building.

“The benefits of the gardens go far beyond the bounty, which is amazing in itself,” David Lockett, PACT co-founder, said in a statement. “They provide experiential and positive, active learning environments where youth, teachers and volunteers connect to their communities, connect to nature and learn about making more healthful food choices.”

Rexdale Community Garden Hub and Etobicoke Master Gardeners also participate in the program.

Many Elmbank staff assist in the program, including Gregory Anderson, Artemis Kapakos, Carla Wilkins, Christine Pasparakis, the Green Club of students from various grades, as well as homeroom teachers and students.

Antonia Nalli, a special needs assessment teacher, goes to Elmbank and North Kipling Junior Middle School one day a week with food she purchases to teach her 15 Healthy Eating Chefs in Training how to cook everything from soup and mashed potatoes to spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, even polenta. Every six weeks, she teaches different students, both boys and girls, from any and every grade.

“They really enjoy it. I’m really enjoying it, too,” Nalli said while offering a tour of her well-stocked school kitchen. “Parents come to me to thank me. I do it from the bottom of my heart. Food brings people together.”

When the crops grow, Nalli will incorporate vegetables from the school’s garden into her recipes.

There are plans to build a “bee hotel,” as well as a pollinator garden to attract bees, birds and butterflies to further improve the garden’s crops.

Students planted raspberry and strawberry bushes last fall soon to be supplemented with blueberry and gooseberry bushes.

Carolina Arenas, PACT’s Elmbank garden co-ordinator works in the garden 20 hours a week with Ontario Studies in Education Bachelor of Education graduates David Mook and Kim Munroe.

“These kids are really, really into it. They love it,” Arenas said of Elmbank students. “It’s hands-on and kids can apply all their knowledge.”

Students at Elmbank Junior Middle Academy grow garden with help of The Rotary Club of Etobicoke and PACT

Garden supplies produce to farmers’ markets and teaches invaluable lessons

News May 23, 2014 by Tamara Shephard Etobicoke Guardian

The Elmbank Junior Middle Academy garden is growing not only students’ awareness of environmental sustainability, but also yielding lessons in math, science, and even arts and social studies.

Nearly all the kindergarten to Grade 8 students plant, water or weed in the large garden of 29 raised beds soon to be teeming with varieties of lettuce, radishes, peas, kale, cabbage, broccoli, garlic, carrots and onions then tomatoes and eggplant.

Elmbank’s harvest is shared with nearby Jamestown Food Bank and sold at the Sorauren Farmers’ Market.

Elmbank’s garden, sponsored by The Rotary Club of Etobicoke, is one of five PACT Grow-to-Learn Schoolyard Gardens in the city the organization calls “living classrooms”. PACT gardens are planted at other Etobicoke schools, including Lakeshore Collegiate, Thistletown Collegiate and West Humber Collegiate, and at John Polanyi Collegiate in North York.

PACT or Participation, Acknowledgement, Commitment and Transformation Urban Peace Program is a social-based organization, working mainly with at-risk and under-served youth in priority neighbourhoods in the city through partnerships with the Toronto District School Board, Toronto police, the courts and other community organizations.

The garden is a “transformative place,” said Christine O’Brien, who divides her teaching duties between ESL and primary science at the Finch Avenue West and Martin Grove Road-area school.

“I’ve been teaching here 15 years and this is one of the best positive spaces in the school,” O’Brien said, noting the garden provides peaceful exploration, a coveted nature experience, while promoting health and access to healthy, free food.

“Some kids want to go out there because they like to plant. Others want to go out there and burn off energy,” O’Brien explained. “All our teachers support the kids’ involvement in the garden and most of our students are in there.”

O’Brien’s class did a drama skit in the garden pretending it was pioneer days. Other teachers have used the garden to grow students’ vocabulary or as a subject for sketches in art class.

For some students, it is a thing of wonder.

“One instructor pulled a carrot out of the ground. The kids’ eyes opened wide. ‘Is that where a carrot comes from?’ some of them asked. It’s very powerful,” O’Brien said.

Unseasonably cold temperatures one day this month didn’t deter students from throwing on jackets and heading out to tend their fledgling crops.

PACT established the program six years ago with a goal of teaching at-risk youth how to grow and share food. Since, PACT has expanded the program to meet community need, transforming unused space into bountiful gardens where children and youth learn about harvesting food, sustainability and community building.

“The benefits of the gardens go far beyond the bounty, which is amazing in itself,” David Lockett, PACT co-founder, said in a statement. “They provide experiential and positive, active learning environments where youth, teachers and volunteers connect to their communities, connect to nature and learn about making more healthful food choices.”

Rexdale Community Garden Hub and Etobicoke Master Gardeners also participate in the program.

Many Elmbank staff assist in the program, including Gregory Anderson, Artemis Kapakos, Carla Wilkins, Christine Pasparakis, the Green Club of students from various grades, as well as homeroom teachers and students.

Antonia Nalli, a special needs assessment teacher, goes to Elmbank and North Kipling Junior Middle School one day a week with food she purchases to teach her 15 Healthy Eating Chefs in Training how to cook everything from soup and mashed potatoes to spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, even polenta. Every six weeks, she teaches different students, both boys and girls, from any and every grade.

“They really enjoy it. I’m really enjoying it, too,” Nalli said while offering a tour of her well-stocked school kitchen. “Parents come to me to thank me. I do it from the bottom of my heart. Food brings people together.”

When the crops grow, Nalli will incorporate vegetables from the school’s garden into her recipes.

There are plans to build a “bee hotel,” as well as a pollinator garden to attract bees, birds and butterflies to further improve the garden’s crops.

Students planted raspberry and strawberry bushes last fall soon to be supplemented with blueberry and gooseberry bushes.

Carolina Arenas, PACT’s Elmbank garden co-ordinator works in the garden 20 hours a week with Ontario Studies in Education Bachelor of Education graduates David Mook and Kim Munroe.

“These kids are really, really into it. They love it,” Arenas said of Elmbank students. “It’s hands-on and kids can apply all their knowledge.”

Students at Elmbank Junior Middle Academy grow garden with help of The Rotary Club of Etobicoke and PACT

Garden supplies produce to farmers’ markets and teaches invaluable lessons

News May 23, 2014 by Tamara Shephard Etobicoke Guardian

The Elmbank Junior Middle Academy garden is growing not only students’ awareness of environmental sustainability, but also yielding lessons in math, science, and even arts and social studies.

Nearly all the kindergarten to Grade 8 students plant, water or weed in the large garden of 29 raised beds soon to be teeming with varieties of lettuce, radishes, peas, kale, cabbage, broccoli, garlic, carrots and onions then tomatoes and eggplant.

Elmbank’s harvest is shared with nearby Jamestown Food Bank and sold at the Sorauren Farmers’ Market.

Elmbank’s garden, sponsored by The Rotary Club of Etobicoke, is one of five PACT Grow-to-Learn Schoolyard Gardens in the city the organization calls “living classrooms”. PACT gardens are planted at other Etobicoke schools, including Lakeshore Collegiate, Thistletown Collegiate and West Humber Collegiate, and at John Polanyi Collegiate in North York.

PACT or Participation, Acknowledgement, Commitment and Transformation Urban Peace Program is a social-based organization, working mainly with at-risk and under-served youth in priority neighbourhoods in the city through partnerships with the Toronto District School Board, Toronto police, the courts and other community organizations.

The garden is a “transformative place,” said Christine O’Brien, who divides her teaching duties between ESL and primary science at the Finch Avenue West and Martin Grove Road-area school.

“I’ve been teaching here 15 years and this is one of the best positive spaces in the school,” O’Brien said, noting the garden provides peaceful exploration, a coveted nature experience, while promoting health and access to healthy, free food.

“Some kids want to go out there because they like to plant. Others want to go out there and burn off energy,” O’Brien explained. “All our teachers support the kids’ involvement in the garden and most of our students are in there.”

O’Brien’s class did a drama skit in the garden pretending it was pioneer days. Other teachers have used the garden to grow students’ vocabulary or as a subject for sketches in art class.

For some students, it is a thing of wonder.

“One instructor pulled a carrot out of the ground. The kids’ eyes opened wide. ‘Is that where a carrot comes from?’ some of them asked. It’s very powerful,” O’Brien said.

Unseasonably cold temperatures one day this month didn’t deter students from throwing on jackets and heading out to tend their fledgling crops.

PACT established the program six years ago with a goal of teaching at-risk youth how to grow and share food. Since, PACT has expanded the program to meet community need, transforming unused space into bountiful gardens where children and youth learn about harvesting food, sustainability and community building.

“The benefits of the gardens go far beyond the bounty, which is amazing in itself,” David Lockett, PACT co-founder, said in a statement. “They provide experiential and positive, active learning environments where youth, teachers and volunteers connect to their communities, connect to nature and learn about making more healthful food choices.”

Rexdale Community Garden Hub and Etobicoke Master Gardeners also participate in the program.

Many Elmbank staff assist in the program, including Gregory Anderson, Artemis Kapakos, Carla Wilkins, Christine Pasparakis, the Green Club of students from various grades, as well as homeroom teachers and students.

Antonia Nalli, a special needs assessment teacher, goes to Elmbank and North Kipling Junior Middle School one day a week with food she purchases to teach her 15 Healthy Eating Chefs in Training how to cook everything from soup and mashed potatoes to spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, even polenta. Every six weeks, she teaches different students, both boys and girls, from any and every grade.

“They really enjoy it. I’m really enjoying it, too,” Nalli said while offering a tour of her well-stocked school kitchen. “Parents come to me to thank me. I do it from the bottom of my heart. Food brings people together.”

When the crops grow, Nalli will incorporate vegetables from the school’s garden into her recipes.

There are plans to build a “bee hotel,” as well as a pollinator garden to attract bees, birds and butterflies to further improve the garden’s crops.

Students planted raspberry and strawberry bushes last fall soon to be supplemented with blueberry and gooseberry bushes.

Carolina Arenas, PACT’s Elmbank garden co-ordinator works in the garden 20 hours a week with Ontario Studies in Education Bachelor of Education graduates David Mook and Kim Munroe.

“These kids are really, really into it. They love it,” Arenas said of Elmbank students. “It’s hands-on and kids can apply all their knowledge.”