KING’S POINT, N.L. — Learning at Valmont Academy has extended beyond the classroom, so much so that residents of King’s Point now have a community garden.
In recent years, Grade 2-3 teacher Roxanne Blanchard has been teaching students about sustainable living through The Little Green Thumbs Project.
“I never had a green thumb, but King’s Point was once a wealth of farmers, that like any other small community, that is what we depended on for our food supply,” Blanchard told The Nor’wester. “Now, the fields are growing over and kids really don’t have any idea where their food comes from.”
The teacher said the “Getting Dirty With Science” theme was taken literally and figuratively to heart by students. In their classroom, they have their own garden where they have been growing everything from mint to cucamelons, lettuce and vines to basil. After the first year, they took their peppers and tomatoes and made a meal.
In the second year they dug deeper and got into vermicomposting — composting with worms.
Blanchard wanted to expand the project even further to include growing fruits and vegetables outside.
The school sent a proposal to the provincial government to seek funding for a community garden.
They received $5,000 from the Community Healthy Living Fund to get things started. They partnered with the Town of King’s Point to make 20 wooden plots available this year. The plots were made by Boyd Tucker, the town’s superintendent of public works.
“I think it is a wonderful experience for our students who are learning about sustainability, but they are also getting some important skills that may have been lost,” said Valmont principal Ryan Kelly. “They are learning to grow fruits and vegetables through some old techniques, and hopefully this will bring them a little closer to some farmers in our area.”
Friday, June 15, students utilized their two plots to plant three types of potatoes. They used the composting from throughout the year as fertilizer for the gardens. Once harvested, the potatoes will be donated to the food bank in Springdale.
“Hopefully, we will have a beautiful community garden that will bring back some of the lost art and gift of gardening,” Blanchard said. “We want to teach the kids how they can become gardeners on their own and make some hobby gardeners of them, if nothing else.”
The town is offering plots at no charge to residents through an application process. If there is more interest than the 18 available plots, a random selection process will take place. The plots are placed at a parcel of land near Paddy’s Brook, and the soil and water system is being provided by the town.
Tucker expects the site will be an asset to residents and another attraction in a town known for its beauty and tourism activity. They will be adding to the area with stone and vegetation.
“Hopefully it gets people out, like some of the seniors,” he said. “It will be a great spot to plant some onions and carrots, things like that.”
While most resident see it as an opportunity to grow some local produce, Angela Strickland sees it as a chance to continue the education process. She works with the Training Wheels Family Resource Centre in King’s Point. She is hoping to secure a plot to be able to bring the children there to plant, grow and eventually harvest food.
“It will be nice to just to do this as a community and to get the children involved as well,” she said. “I think it is awesome, a wonderful idea.”
Anybody interested in a community garden box can contact the town office or apply online through the town’s Facebook page.