When it comes to learning about nature and how the world of plants plays an integral role in life, Saugeen District Secondary School (SDSS) students who take part in the horticultural program under teacher Keith Day, have the opportunity to experience nature first-hand.
Not only do they learn in the in the classroom and greenhouse but they also reach out into the community crossing generations as they help with plantings at the local seniors’Southampton Care Centre, seniors home Hampton Court and seniors independent living facility Elgin Lodge.
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At each of the seniors’ facilities in the Spring, the students not only learn about weeding and planting but also have the chance to interact with seniors far beyond their own years, and who enjoy watching the young students groom the gardens.
The horticulture program is self-sufficient through its Spring greenhouse plant sales that the public supports and also through planter sales to both downtown cores of Port Elgin and Southampton and with homeowners who have the students create planters.
In addition, when it comes to equipment within the greenhouse and ‘hoophouse’ facilities, the program is fortunate to have partnerships with corporations such as Mowbray’s Canadian Tire that donates a wide variety of grow equipment.
The program also has initiated and sustained an outreach to local elementary schools throughout the community and the region, where early grades come into the SDSS greenhouse and learn how to plant seeds, how insects such as ladybugs play an important role in the eco-system and then can take away with them a seedling of their own. The SDSS program has also initiated individual growing systems in the local schools themselves where students can learn to take care of their own school plantings.
Many students of the program have gone on to post-secondary education in the horticultural and science fields. “We are very proud of our students who have gone on to follow a path in the field of science, horticulture and agriculture,” says teacher Keith Day, “and we also appreciate the support that we receive from the community and our partners that provide most of the equipment that we use.”
This term, the horticulture program has involved six exchange students from Brazil. “We don’t have anything like this in Brazil,” says Geovana Ferreira, “and I only wish we did.”