Students creating vegetable garden to foster well-being, assist others
By Laura Lennie
Stoney Creek News (Oct 11, 2017)
St. Francis Xavier Catholic Elementary School is embarking on a hearty venture.
The school’s Health Action Team, composed of 20 Grade 6 to 8 students, is spearheading an initiative that will see the school’s peace garden transformed into a vegetable garden.
The team is getting assistance from public health nurse Carol Fedoryshyn as part of the initiative aimed at fostering student mental well-being and helping others in need. It’s also looking to involve the community in the project.
“I like that we’re changing things up and getting a chance to garden,” team member and Grade 8 student Emma Davies says.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” fellow member and Grade 8 student Vanessa Da Silva said. “It feels good knowing that we’re going to be helping people too.”
The Health Action Team began working with Fedoryshyn on the initiative after student mental well-being was identified as a health priority at the school.
The project promotes five ways to well-being: connecting, learning, being active, taking notice and being creative.
Fedoryshyn said it allows students to connect with their peers and community members who can offer advice, expertise and other support; learn about what is planted and the process behind it; be active; and take notice of what is harvested in terms of smells and tastes.
The initiative also enables students to be creative with respect to how the garden is laid out and what to do with the harvest, she said.
“The idea is, the harvest will be used for a school soupfest, but more importantly the overflow will be used to support St. Patrick’s Church’s De Mazenod Door outreach program, which helps feed those in need in Hamilton’s downtown core,” Fedoryshyn said. “It’s going to be a long process in terms of deciding what we’re going to plant, but things are well underway.”
The Health Action Team started the peace garden’s transformation on Oct. 3.
Students cleared out rocks, dug up weeds and got beds ready for the vegetable garden.
They received a helping hand from Randy’s Gardening Lawncare owners Randy and Eszter Hull, who volunteered their expertise, time and tools to the effort.
The Hull’s, who learned about the initiative from a family they worked for that’s connected to the school, also will continue to help out when the planting season begins in the spring.
“It’s just part of our nature to do something like this,” Randy said. “It makes you feel good to help others less fortunate. It’s all about paying it forward.”
Principal Olga Scheer said all students will be involved in the initiative in one way or another.
The underlying hope is to motivate those students who may struggle academically/emotionally, she said.
“The garden will be a place that they can meet with success and feel great accomplishment and satisfaction,” Scheer said. “Overall, the project will help all students see the necessity of co-operation and problem solving in bringing ideas to life.”
For more information on the initiative and how you can help in the form of guidance, donations and time, call the school at 905-523-2333.