The horticultural program, ‘Young Growers’, at Saugeen District Saugeen School (SDSS) is about more than growing plants.
It is about growing positive attitudes of students and growing their interactions with the community.
The SDSS students begin their horticultural spring studies in the greenhouse but, throughout the year, they participate in the community in a wide variety of ways.
They grow flowering baskets to beautify the core downtown areas of Port Elgin and Southampton. They also hold an annual month-of-May plant sale open to the community in order to be self-sufficient, as the program receives no-to-little funding from the government ergo the school board.
The program has also become an integral part of the community with the students weeding and planting at the local seniors’ independent living facilities, in addition to the local long-term care home, where they create a colourful garden for those who were once used to creating their own gardens.
“While learning about horticulture is important, learning about the value of another generation and how to give back is an even more valuable life lesson,” says teacher Keith Day.
This year, Elgin Lodge wanted a special garden created and the students of SDSS moved into high gear to get it done.
It is a special memorial herb garden, in memory of former Elgin Lodge Executive Director, Deb Wallace, who recently passed away. It is a special garden that is located adjacent to the kitchen area so that that fresh herbs will be available for the chef preparing residents’ meals.
“The ‘ Young Growers’ program is invaluable,” adds teacher Keith Day. “Many of our students have gone on to pursue careers in environmental sciences, horticultural and agricultural related fields. It is really a hands-on learning experience.”