Good things will continue to grow at Caledon public schools.
The school vegetable garden project, led by Caledon’s Peel District School Board (PDSB) trustee Stan Cameron, was a big success this year.
With large amounts of fresh vegetables donated to Caledon Community Services (CCS), and a positive response to the project from Caledon’s school communities, plans are being made to continue the project annually.
First announced in early 2023, the school garden project saw students, staff and parent volunteers create their own vegetable gardens at each of Caledon’s public schools.
Community partners like the Albion Hills Community Farm (AHCF) and many local businesses supported the project, and are planning to continue their support.
“The school gardens are coming to an end of their harvest time… it’s been very exciting for students,” said Cameron. “We most recently made a donation to The Exchange (CCS’ food bank) of 113 pounds of fresh vegetables.”
Cameron said students felt great knowing their gardening efforts went towards helping families in need get fresh, healthy food.
An offer of free seeds and seedlings for next year’s school gardens has already come in from Caledon East’s Davis Feed and Farm Supply, who provided seeds and seedlings this year.
“It’s a huge offering… schools and parent councils don’t need to worry about cost or raising money to purchase seeds or seedlings,” said Cameron.
Glen Echo Nurseries has offered to provide soil for the gardens, as well as seeds.
As this was the first year of the garden project, plants were chosen by the garden project leaders for the school gardens across Caledon. Moving forward, Cameron wants to see each school community choose what they’d like to grow.
Cameron said the garden project has garnered support from many places.
“We’ve had help from the director of PDSB, the associate director, the board superintendent, our facilities manager, our custodians, our amazing teachers who are our gardening leaders within our schools, their students, and the community members who helped out throughout the summer to water and weed those gardens,” said Cameron.
Cameron said a colleague told him she’s never seen a school project that involves so many people contributing to make it work.
“I was at a garden once during the summer… I was watering and… in walks this mum with two little girls and all three of them had a watering can,” said Cameron. “It was pretty amazing to see how this family had decided even though it wasn’t necessarily their scheduled week to water (they would still come and help).”
Cameron said in a time where there’s a lot of negativity, the school gardens have been a good news story that brings positive energy to the community.
Grants from the Town of Caledon and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) helped out with the garden project this year, and Cameron expressed his thanks for those grants.
Moving forward, Cameron is hoping to make the gardens even more sustainable.
“For example, we can get a large compost bin for each of our schools,” said Cameron. “The leftover that comes out of the garden can go into a composter to then be regenerated as organic soil (and put) into our soil the following year.”
Zachary Roman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Caledon Citizen