Paul Rowe's NEW Green Thumb Program filled with real life learning experiences, citizenship opportunities and community partnerships

Paul Rowe's NEW Green Thumb Program filled with real life learning experiences, citizenship opportunities and community partnerships

Thanks to the support of North Peace Applied Research Association (NPARA) and Amicis Gardens through donations of land, equipment, seeds and expertise, Paul Rowe High School’s new Green Thumb program teaches students how to grown their own vegetables and help those in need.

It all started when NPARA approached Paul Rowe High School wanting to get involved in the school and specifically with sustainable living. Once Amicis Gardens heard about the partnership through the local paper, they contacted the school wanting to be involved.

On May 30, 2014 students completed the first Paul Rowe Green Thumb garden filled with kale, carrots, potatoes, beets, peas, squash, pumpkins as well as a field of corn.

For some of the students, this is their first exposure to gardening and working with community organizations.

Proceeds from the sale of the produce and fundraising the group has planned will be donated to a school in Kenya through the school’s involvement in a Canadian based program “Farmers helping Farmers.”

“Whatever we raise will go to a school in Kenya to help with their school and community” says grade eleven student Chris Hager.

Farmers helping Farmers is an organization that allows Canadian schools the opportunity to partner with schools in Africa. Involvement in the program provides both Canadian and Kenyan students a greater understanding of each other’s way of life and the means to communicate and learn from each other.

“I wanted to be a part of this because it is a good opportunity to give back to people that do not have as much as we are blessed to have” says grade eleven student Keandra Lacasse-Carpenter.

Before planting the garden, students spent time researching various planting methods and chose the ancient “three sisters” method of planting which grade eleven student Kyleigh Lacasse-Caprenter explains.

“The three sisters method of planting is where you pick three types of vegetables that grow well together” says Kyleigh. “For instance, we planted corn, bean and squash together in one hill. The research says that doing it this way helps the vegetables to grow better and it is an easier and symbiotic way to plant.”

During the summer and fall students will spend time weeding and harvesting the produce. Students will earn credits for their involvement through Special Projects programming.

With the corn field, students have a special treat planned for the community.

“We are going to organize a corn maze in the fall after harvest” says grade eleven student Lorna Peters. “The entire community and surrounding areas are welcome to attend.”

Principal Matt Taylor says the program embodies the characteristics of Inspiring Education – the current transformation of education in Alberta.

“What these students are doing with the Green Thumb program represents everything we are trying to do in education with engaged thinkers, ethical citizenship and entrepreneurial spirit” says Matt.

Paul Rowe High School thanks Lori and Marilyn at Amicis Gardens and Tom and Nora at North Peace Applied Research Association for their generous support and partnership.

“We are very grateful for how involved and giving our community is in our school” says grade eight student Sharman Bigler. “It shows that they care and we really appreciate it.

Paul Rowe Green Thumb class members:
Sharman Bigler (grade 8) Chris Hager (grade 11) Kyleigh Lacasse-Carpenter (grade 11) Keandra Lacasse-Carpenter (grade 11) Lorna Peters (grade 11) Jazmyn Teige (grade 11)