Health & Well-being

Classroom Gardens

Learning to Grow! From seed to harvest, in-school gardens nurture minds and nourish bodies.

Can you think of a better way to teach children about plants and nutrition, and to support healthy eating, than to grow vegetables in the classroom? 

Classroom Gardens brings indoor gardening into elementary and secondary classrooms across all four Ottawa school boards. Throughout the school year, and even through the cold winter months, these students are growing plants from seed, and learning in a hands-on way about plant life cycles, nutrition, and entrepreneurship. Most importantly, students have the opportunity to eat the food they’ve grown, which is a proven way to get kids excited about eating healthy, fresh vegetables. 

To get involved, contact Program Manager Doreen Manley at dmanley@onfe-rope.ca.

COVID-19 Update

 

When schools closed in March, ONFE put together 800 Classroom Gardens seed kits that went out to children through Ottawa Community Houses. We also piloted a seed kit program for teachers, sending seeds, seedling journals, and curriculum supporting materials for students to use at home. Vermicomposting units were also sent home with interested teachers to use as a remote learning tool, and to prepare them for use as an in-class teaching tool. 

 

We are now actively working with the 4 school boards to develop in-class and at-home Classroom Gardens models that consider all health and safety protocols. 

About the Program

Need

Poor nutrition is linked with many chronic and costly health conditions including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, and hyperactivity among children. Growing food in the classroom is proven way to get kids excited about eating healthy fresh vegetables, while learning about nutrition, entrepreneurship, and the wide range of career choices related to food. Learning about healthy food at school is especially critical for the one in five children in Ottawa who live in poverty. Not surprisingly, there is a direct link between nutrition and household income.

Response

Now in our fifth year of Classroom Gardens, ONFE is partnering with elementary schools and high schools across Ottawa’s four public school boards to bring this program to students. Classroom Gardens engages students of all ages (with a special focus on grade 3 classes) in planting, growing, harvesting, and most importantly, tasting and enjoying their own classroom garden vegetables. Each indoor classroom garden can grow up to 50 edible plants at a time, all year long. That’s a lot of healthy food to share with students, their families, and their neighbourhoods! 

Impact

Classroom Gardens engages local teachers and students in creating and tending to indoor gardens. Targeted lesson plans and growing programs connect hands-on gardening activities with curriculum goals in a variety of subjects. Students gain a better understanding of plants, food supply and demand, nutrition and healthy eating, and food-related careers.