Nicola Canford students get digging in their gardens

·2 min read

The students at Nicola Canford Elementary are getting into the spirit of spring by prepping the school gardens for the planting that will take place just as soon as the weather warms up and Mother Nature feels cooperative.

The grade three and four classes of Mrs. Nelson-Smith and Mrs. van Rossum were busy pulling weeds and remnants of last year’s plants, as well as turning the soil, raking and tilling.

“We had our school garden installed about five years ago,” said Nicola Canford principal Burt Bergmann.

“It has been a big part of both our spring and fall activities since then.”

The garden is mutually beneficial, providing traditional medicine and food plants as well as providing the students with outdoor time and important experiences.

“We use it for Science and Health classes as well as for social emotional regulation,” said Bergmann.

“The practical, hands-on learning provided by a school garden is extremely valuable. To talk about seed germination, seasons or the characteristics of a living organism and then to be able to head out to the garden and have hands-on interaction with those concepts is wonderful.”

In today’s busy world which often focuses on technology and provides ample distraction, working in the school garden can be a source of calm and productivity students may not find elsewhere.

“In addition, the social emotional work that can be done be getting your hands in the dirt, planting and nurturing something to harvest provide our students another tool of self-regulation that can travel with them for life,” explained Bergmann.

“One of the features of this space is the sensory garden. In it we have a number of scented plants like mint or lavender, and tactile plants like Lamb’s Ear. This is a great section of the garden for kids to care for that also provides other sensory-regulating tools.”

Nicola Canford Elementary is located on the traditional territories of the Nlaka’pamux peoples, and incorporates some of their cultural traditions and teachings, something that is reflected in the school garden.

“We also connect our gardening to our indigenous communities and culture,” said Bergmann.

“Between our garden and the outdoor calming space, we care for a number of plants that are significant for traditional medicines and food crops.”

Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald