Cold slows start for school gardens

Kindergarten student Nathan Swedgan takes his turn at planting a potato during the Jubilee Elementary School Garden Club's first planting day May 10

By Rachel Muenz

Cool temperatures earlier this spring have meant gardeners are a bit behind on their planting so far this season, including school groups.

“We were probably half done our planting at this time last year,” said Cally Daongam, the community school coordinator for Jubilee Elementary School, a couple of weeks ago as she led the school’s garden club in planting the first vegetables of the season.

However, she added last year saw delays later in the season when a huge amount of rain and mud meant not much could get done in the school’s garden located just right of the Jubilee parking lot.

“There was a break where we couldn’t work, so finishing (the season) took longer,” Daongam said, adding the fruit trees, rhubarb and raspberry plants the club planted last year all look like they wintered well.

If the group gets caught up on planting the main vegetables they plant each year, such as the potatoes they were busy with May 10, Daongam said they hope to try a bean and pea tipi this year.

Over at Rapid View’s Green Acre School, students don’t have to worry as much about outside temperatures as their growing is partly done in the school greenhouse, now in its second year.

But the season hasn’t been without its challenges.

“We have to start everything inside the school but once the plants germinate, they need direct sunlight,” said Grade 7 and 8 teacher Kaare Gunderson. “We had trouble with our heating in the greenhouse so we didn’t get things outside as soon as possible.”

That meant some of the flowers were a little more behind than usual this year but the school still had plenty of plants for sale at its second annual greenhouse fundraiser, which took place at the school May 12 and 13 and the Meadow Lake Co-op Service Centre May 17.

“We have sold out of certain types of plants already,” Gunderson said outside the Co-op. “Today has been fairly steady since we started.”

He added the school decided to start a greenhouse in order to teach students a practical skill, with the money raised mostly going towards travel costs for extracurricular activities, something that’s even more important with rising fuel prices.

“(The event) was a different idea for a fundraiser, getting away from the traditional chocolates and catalogues full of trinkety things,” Gunderson said. “This way the kids can do something practical by learning to grow their own food.”

Anyone looking for flowers, tomato and pepper plants can stop by the school to purchase them anytime as anything left over from the fundraiser will go back in the greenhouse, he added.

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