Growing Futures at Iroquois Public

Iroquois Public School Grade 6 students Elliott Blancher (left) and Abigail Smail (right) assemble the base of the growing tower with Lucia Eyzaguivre (center) from Growing Futures. The tower is a key component in the Growing Futures pilot program. The tower at IPS is the first Growing Futures project outside of the city of Ottawa and the first in the Upper Canada District School Board. (The Leader/Comfort photo)
Iroquois Public School Grade 6 students Kelsey Duncan, Kathryn Swerdfeger, Emma Johnston and Meredith Windle were working intently on setting up the new growing tower in their classroom. (The Leader/Comfort photo)

IROQUOIS – Growing Futures, a pilot program that allows students and other youth organizations to learn important food skills and financial literacy has just set up its first project outside of Ottawa: they set it up right here in Iroquois.

Tuesday, January 30 Sue Hall, health innovator/project leader from the Parkdale Food Centre in Ottawa, was at Iroquois Public School to help the Grade 6 students and teacher Stephanie Brulé-Guindon set up a tower garden growing system in the classroom that will allow the students to plant, grow and harvest basil, bok choy and Swiss chard, which will be donated to Community Food Share.

Community Food Share administrator Ian McKelvie was pivotal in bringing this project to the community and in forming this partnership to bring the program to Iroquois Public School.

“I heard about this really neat project that Parkdale was doing, and I wanted to bring it here to you,” McKelvie, told the Grade 6s. “It really fits well with what we are doing with Community Food Share, in wanting it to be more than just a food bank.”

“This is a great opportunity to promote hands on learning and to be engaged with the community.”

Everyone had a hand in getting this project up and running. (The Leader/Comfort photo)

“I’m very excited about this cool project that we are starting here today. We’re first in the board to have this,” said Brulé-Guindon.

“You guys are cutting edge,” Hall told the class before the students got to work on assembling the growing tower.

“What a great unique opportunity,” said Sarita Anderson, Iroquois Public School principal. “It’s a natural extension of what was started here last year with the community garden. It’s a great opportunity to get the kids involved while at the same time promoting food and financial literacy. It’s really great that we are the first to be involved.”

While today the students were fully focused on assembling the tower, they are already looking forward to the first harvest.

Hall said that the first harvest is always a time for celebration for the students as they will gather together to share a giant bowl of salad.

McKelvie has plans for a second growing tower project in the board and added that if other schools or community organizations are interested learning about this program or about setting up a Growing Futures garden in their school, they are welcome to contact him directly (admin@communityfoodshare.ca).

He added that if there are businesses interested in sponsoring a tower he can help with that as well.

Project partners: Ian McKelvie – Community Food Share administrator, Stephanie Brulé-Guindon – IPS Grade 6 teacher, Sue Hall – Project Lead with Growing Futures, Lucia Eyzaguivre – Growing Futures, Elizabeth Bojo – Growing Futures. (The Leader/Comfort photo)