St. Thomas Aquinas launches gardening club

St. Thomas Aquinas launches gardening club
Posted on 12/03/2021
This is the image for the news article titled St. Thomas Aquinas launches gardening clubTeacher Ashley Shouldice picks some lettuce off the garden tower at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

Students wishing to turnip their gardening skills now have a new outlet at St. Thomas Aquinas High School. The school cut the ribbon on their brand new gardening program on Friday by handing out salads that had been prepared with lettuce grown indoors in their very own aeroponic tower.

“I have always had a love of gardening and another colleague of mine approached me and we saw this grant we could apply for and receive money so that we could have a school garden. We applied for the grant in the spring and we were awarded $3,000 for the program,” said teacher Ashley Shouldice.

The $3,000 grant was provided by the Whole Kids Foundation, an organization that gives funding to schools across North America for school gardens, salad bars, educational beehives and cooking and nutrition education. The school previously bought the aeroponic tower through Experiential Learning funding.

Grade 11 student Kylie Camire spoke more about the club.

“We started about a few months ago. We put the tower together and then we planted seeds inside planters. It took about three weeks to start sprouting and once they were about four inches we put them inside the garden tower,” she said.

Students of the gardening club pose in front of the garden towerThe tower now has lettuce, strawberries, parsley, peas and more growing in it, however, the tower is just one part of the plan.

“So in year one we are starting to grow plants in the garden tower and establish a good growing group of students who want to come out. Then the money will be used in year two and year three to establish a garden in front of the school and to purchase supplies and that kind of thing,” said Shouldice.

Grade 10 student Brooklynne Penner explains why she got involved with the gardening club.

“I thought it would be fun because I can’t grow anything, so I thought it would teach me how to do it and what I learned is that it’s not as hard as people make it seem,” she said.

Community partner Karen Status played a key role in helping the school get the tower up and running and was on hand to see the progress the students have made. She explained why she was so happy to see the gardening club get started at St. Thomas Aquinas.

“I want students to learn that there is an option to eat fresh food and to introduce fresh food to kids to get them away from processed foods and offer them better food nutrition because it powers their minds and fuels their bodies better,” she said.

Shouldice added that the Life Skills class would also be getting involved with the gardening programming by helping prepare the fresh produce for the lunch program and maybe even teaching younger students about gardening.

“Kids from the daycares could even come up and do mini-lessons with our Life Skills students so they can gain confidence in public speaking,” she said.

Shouldice added that once the program really gets rooted in the school they’re hoping to involve more community partners in gardening over the summer months when students and staff are away. But for now they’re happy to provide students with some extra produce grown fresh right in the school.

Students cut the ribbon at the gardening club launchTrustee Jeffrey White accepts a bowl of salad from a student
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