New Brunswick

'It just makes me joyful': Moncton students harvest school garden

Students at Beaverbrook School in Moncton returned from their summer vacation to find a project they started last spring in full bloom.

Beaverbrook School students unite to grow bountiful vegetable garden for free lunch program

Grade 4 students, from left, Ella Stewart, Bella Comeau, Dalia Osman, Esta Moo and Danysha Diallo harvest onions and lettuce from their school garden. (Vanessa Blanch/CBC)

Students at Beaverbrook School in Moncton returned from their summer vacation to find a project they started last spring in full bloom.

"It was just like, wow," said Grade 6 student Deborah Soe. "Everything grew a lot over the summer. I'm just proud of it all."

Since 2015, students and teachers at this kindergarten to Grade 8 inner-city school have been planting, weeding, watering and harvesting their own vegetables.

Grade 6 students Deborah Soe and Carson Field were amazed to see how much their school garden grew over the summer. (Vanessa Blanch/CBC)

Retired teacher Doran Ramsay started the raised-bed garden as a project with his alternative education students. They built the 12 garden boxes that now overflow with tomatoes, onions and garlic.

"There's a lot of money invested, a lot of person hours invested as well but you saw the kids today and this is why we do it," he said. 

Students find joy in growing their own food

Grade 6 student Carson Field joined the garden club in the spring and tilled the pumpkin patch and planted sunflowers.

"I like planting stuff because it just relaxes me," he said. "Especially that I have ADHD."

Carson Field loves every part of gardening, even the weeding. He has ADHD and feels calm when he is outside tilling, planting and watering. (Vanessa Blanch/CBC)

Ella Stewart, who is in Grade 4, calls the garden "amazing" and can't wait to try everything they have grown.

"Yesterday … we picked green beans in the garden and I brought some home and I washed them and I brought some for snack today," she said. 

Teachers and community members checked in on the garden over the summer.

Me and my mom love eating sunflower seeds and sunflowers — I just love to look at them. Like they're so pretty once they bloom.- Carson Field

All of the vegetables grown in the garden will be used by the school's free hot lunch and breakfast club programs.

"Sometimes we have corn on the cob for hot lunch and it's really, really good and it's from this garden," said Ella. "And the salads — the lettuce from the garden too and I think the lettuce is really, really good."

Carson also loves that they can pick fresh vegetables from their own garden for the hot lunch.

"Cheaper than using your credit card, that's for sure," he joked.

Students at Beaverbrook School have been learning the art of gardening, which also has them connecting over food. 0:47

Making connections

Teacher Heather Lewis now leads the garden club and is most proud of the connections it has created.

"We're really looking for ways to get our parents more involved," Lewis said. "They want to talk, they want to know what's going on. Passing lettuce that's ready to them, inviting them in."

Retired teacher Doran Ramsay and Beaverbrook School teacher Heather Lewis spend hours every spring and fall teaching students to plant and care for their garden. (Vanessa Blanch/CBC)

Beaverbrook School has a large number of students who are new to Canada, and Lewis has seen the garden become a way for children to connect.

"We pulled out a bulb of garlic and one of the students who is a newcomer recognized it and was able to teach us what garlic is in Arabic … so it is a chance for sharing culturally, sharing all kinds of food experiences."

Carson is already looking forward to planting again in the spring.

When students left for summer vacation there were only sprouts and dirt in their school garden. They were amazed to see how much their plants had grown when they returned to class last week. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

"It just makes me joyful," he said.

"Like that tomato there, it was barely spreading when I left, and now it's over the edges of the box. I just love planting gardens."

For Ramsay, hearing Carson's enthusiasm is the reason he still helps with the school garden he started, even though he is retired.

"The kids come and have a lot of questions — what things taste like, what things feel like … so they're embracing it and that's the age to learn."

Danysha Diallo and her classmates try some of the fresh vegetables they harvested on Friday from the school garden they planted in the spring. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

Carson can't wait to harvest everything they have grown, especially the seeds from the sunflowers he planted.

"Me and my mom love eating sunflower seeds and sunflowers — I just love to look at them. Like they're so pretty once they bloom."

It's harvest season at Beaverbrook School's community garden. The CBC's Vanessa Blanch dropped by to talk to students and teachers. 8:49

About the Author

Vanessa Blanch is a reporter based in Moncton. She has worked across the country for CBC for nearly 20 years. If you have story ideas to share please email: vanessa.blanch@cbc.ca

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