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St Adolphe classrooms growing green

By: Adriana Mingo

Posted: 04/13/2017 9:30 AM

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Lynn Gobeil and Grade 3 student Brinley Harder and Grade 1 student Luke Diduke stand next to the greenhouse.

ADRIANA MINGO | THE CARILLON Enlarge Image

Lynn Gobeil and Grade 3 student Brinley Harder and Grade 1 student Luke Diduke stand next to the greenhouse.

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If you look at the hands of students at St Adolphe School, at least 40 of them will have green thumbs.

Beginning in January, four classes with students ranging from Kindergarten to Grade 8 work in a classroom that has been converted into a greenhouse to produce their own vegetables and fruit.

The program, which is called Little Green Thumbs and is part of Ag in the Classroom, provides participating schools with the supplies to build a greenhouse.

Students use the greenhouse for lessons across different subjects once a week for 45 minutes.

"We come in once a week, because if we come in too often, you don’t see the growth," said Lynn Gobeil, a Grade 1 French immersion teacher involved in the program. "It’s nice to see the look on their face."

Students begin with one pea pellet, they soak it in water and then they plant their own seeds, Gobeil said. This plant grows under a dome for about three weeks. The students then transplant their plants into the larger ‘greenhouse.’

As students watch cucumbers, beans, peas, peppers, kale, tomatoes and lettuce grow, they do different activities across several subjects.

Activities include writing, studying the life cycle and parts of the plant in Science, measuring, charting and collecting data in Math and drawing vegetables that grow in the ground in Art. Since Gobeil teaches French immersion, everything she does is in French, so her students also learn vocabulary for vegetables, fruit and parts of the plant in the language.

This is the second school year St Adolphe School has been involved in the program. In the program’s first year, two classes participated. This year, four classes—two French immersion and two English classes— are participating. Gobeil said this is due to the positive response from students and their parents.

"They love it. That’s why we’re four classes now. Even the parents would ask the principal ‘can my child do this?" said Gobeil. "They absolutely love it. Sometimes [the students] peek through the window at recess to look at other classes."

When asked by The Carillon what he likes most of the Luke Diduke, a Grade 1 student in the program, said he likes to eat the vegetables. Brinley Harder, a Grade 3 student, said she loves to plant the vegetables. Both of them cite the cucumber as their favourite vegetable to grow.

As the program grew, the school purchased a second lamp to expand their greenhouse.

Spending time in the greenhouse may be a fun activity for the students, but the program does promote a variety of skills, including good social skills, healthy eating, connecting to nature and being good citizens, Gobeil said.

Teamwork is another important aspect of the program, Gobeil notes, as the two French immersion classes and the two English classes buddy up with their respective streams.

Sometimes, you’ll even get paired up with your sister, as Diduke notes.

"Sometimes the sibling will get paired up. It’s cute to see," said Gobeil.

Vegetables and fruit aren’t the only thing the students grow.

"We also have worms," Gobeil laughs, adding the students use them to make their own fertilizer after composting apple cores, egg shells and coffee grinds.

Since lettuce only takes three weeks to grow, students grow it later in the program. Once the lettuce is ready to eat, Gobeil said the students will have a ‘saladbretion’ at the end of the program.

Harder said she’s really looking forward to that.

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