Students in P.E.I.’s French school system had the opportunity to learn about producing food in their own gardens this year thanks to a 2017 program.
The Gardens for the Future project was initiated by RDÉE Prince Edward Island with the primary goal of establishing vegetable and herb gardens created by children in the early childhood centres (ECCs) of the six French schools/community centres.
Members of the Good Workers Youth Services Co-op, aged 12-17, first served as carpenters for the construction of picnic tables and raised vegetable beds, but also served as mentors for the pre-school children by teaching them how to plant seeds and to care for the resulting vegetable plants.
The Gardens for the Future project first benefitted from a $7,500 contribution from Farm Credit Canada's Expression Fund. The provincial francophone health network, Le Réseau de santé en français de l'Î.-P.-É., then made a contribution to increase the number of raised beds, in addition to providing gardening picnic tables.
The Société Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin also obtained funding through Canada 150 to provide an opportunity for the six schools to improve their gardens.
Some schools installed rain barrels to help maintain their gardens.
“Some of the centres had different needs than others,” explained RDÉE’s youth development officer Stéphane Blanchard. “We built raised beds for all ECCs. We provided basic gardening tools, such as shovels, hoes, watering cans, planters, etc. We also bought large quantities of seeds to distribute to each centre.
“We also set up strawberry and raspberry beds in each ECC so that the children will be able to literally continue harvesting the fruits of this project for many years to come."
Blanchard said the program accomplished much more than was anticipated because the initial project created several other sources of funding.