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Friday, October 27, 2017

Actually...One Last Hurrah Before Winter!

I had thought our school gardens were done for the 2017 season, however another St Cecilia parent (thank you Machelle Giovagnoli!) offered us garlic bulbs and rapini seeds.  I didn't know that both of these could be planted in the fall and then will start coming up in spring.  So we got a couple of classes together to do one final planting today.  We learned that garlic likes to be covered with hay as it rests for the winter but that the greens will start to push up in the spring.  We may even get lucky and have some garlic ready before school is out in June!  Rapini is quite interesting - it is a seed but likes to be planted in fall.  It may start to sprout before the first fall - but then gets covered with snow and will apparently keep going in the spring.  If all goes well, we'll be able to harvest the rapini before planting the next set of crops in the spring.

Now that is truly a wrap for the 2017 season...see you in the Spring!  

Grade 4's planting garlic
Kinders planting garlic
Grade 6's planting rapini

Monday, September 18, 2017

That's a Wrap for the Summer 2017 Season!

Last week, we had at least 16 classes come through the gardens to help harvest the crops that were grown and learn about them.  It is fantastic to see such great engagement and use of our school gardens to enhance and further our children's learning!

On Friday, we had 12 classes rotate through each garden and we talked about what makes a crop a root vegetable (something that grows in the ground like our beets, radishes, carrots and potatoes) versus one that is not (something that grows above the ground like our lettuce and kale and pumpkins).  Each class got to take a big bag full of various crops and we were happy to see many tweets of classes exploring them further in the classroom later that day.  It was so rewarding to see this whole project come full circle and to see the students engaged and interested in the process.  

We unfortunately did have some crops go missing (our entire carrot bed was taken home by someone in the public).  We will be officially making a sign for our gardens for the next growing season to indicate that the crops are for student learning (or for donation to Parkdale food centre when crops are ready over the summer season). Please pass on the news to our community that our school gardens are not open to the public for picking :)

We are also considering perhaps growing rapini and garlic over the winter months which would be ready come spring.  I had no idea that this was how they grew but we have a connection for seeds and may be able to make this happen if some classes/teachers are interested - so stay tuned for that!  


This entire gardening project could not be possible without the support of Mrs. Green, St Cecilia's teachers, Mr. Colin and the help of our great volunteer team.  I apologize if I miss anyone, but a special thanks for all that you did. We will be looking to recruit more people next year so if you have interest in gardening and ensuring this project continues to be successful, please don't hesitate to email Brandy McDevitt at

May 13th clean up day
Estelle Mendonca and family
Laura Villeneuve and family
Shannon Bradford and family
Sharon Qiao and family
Brahma and family
Heather Coghlin and family
Laura Stone and family
Fedja and Wendy Pejic
Sarah Yorke and family
Tina McLean and family
Terri Poole and family
Liam Bowman and Julie Dunphy
Myles McDevitt and family
Mrs Green
Mme Drouin
Mrs Smith

Garden Planting Days
Megan Kunsken, Heather Coghlin and Sharon Qiao

Summer Maintenance
Shannon Bradford
Elena Righetti
Estelle Mendonca
Laura Villeneuve
Laura Chisholm
Heather Coghlin
Fedja and Wendy Pejic
Megan Kunsken
Tara-Lynn White
Terri Poole
Tina MacLean

Harvesting day
Megan Kunsken

Monday, September 4, 2017

Welcome Back to School St Cecilia!!!

Welcome back to St Cecilia!  What a great (but fast) summer season!

The school gardens did really well this season and we have some great crops ready for classes and kids to explore, harvest, learn from and maybe even eat during the month of September.

We made another donation to Parkdale Food Centre of kale and lettuce but left a bit for students to check out when they are back.  We have HUGE beets ready for harvest (I have never seen beets this big before!) as well as lots of carrots and potatoes.  There are a few pumpkins growing as well as some onions.

Stay tuned as we wrap up our second year of successfully growing and learning from our school gardens.

Huge Onions!
Student Volunteers among the lettuce

Student volunteers in the carrots!

Biggest Beets Ever!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Almost half way through summer and our garden is thriving!

Thanks to the hard work of our amazing volunteer team, St. Cecilia's school gardens are thriving. Our onions, carrots and beets look fantastic and will be huge by the time students and teachers return.  Our potatoes and pumpkins are growing; we have a new crop of radishes planted thanks to a lovely volunteer and we just harvested our first crop of lettuce and second crop of kale.

There is always a silver lining in everything:  while the rainy weather might be dampening our outdoor activities, our gardens sure do like it and since our irrigation pipe is broken again we are grateful also to Mother Nature for the water it has been providing for our crops.  I don't think there will be a need to ask the fire department to water for us this year!  

Yesterday, we again donated 5 garbage bags full of fresh lettuce and kale to the Parkdale Food Centre and they remarked how excited they were to receive this as lettuce and kale is one of their more expensive purchases to make for clients.   They tweeted about us yesterday to say thanks for the donation which you can check out here:

We hope you are enjoying your summer vacation!
Thriving garden!

Volunteer checking out our carrots

Harvested Kale
Bags of lettuce and kale!

Making a donation to Parkdale Food Centre

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

First crops are ready before school is out!

With just one full day left at school, I am happy that some of the early crops that we planted with the students just 5 weeks ago are already ready!  

Today, I harvested all the radishes (thanks to some of the Grade 5 and 6's for your help in planting them!) and cut the first batch of kale (thanks to Mrs. Smith's Grade 1 students for your help in planting them!).  All the crops (three big bags!) were left in the teacher staff room and hopefully some students will get to take a taste test in their classes before leaving for the summer.  
Radishes are harvested!  Many of them are huge!
First crop of kale harvested!

Kale plants cut down and ready for new growth

We again planted potatoes this year.  Since I am not too experienced with how these grow, I decided to do a little experiment.  I had been told that covering up the greens of the potato plants with additional soil allows potatoes to continue to grow on top of each other.  So today, using just one corner of the potato garden, I mounded up soil over 9 potato plants.  We'll see if that little corner yields more potatoes compared to the potatoes that are not covered.   

Carrots, onions, lettuce and beets are all growing well.  All the rest of the crops will be ready for the students when they are back in the fall.  



Happy summer break to everyone! Check back here throughout the summer to see how the garden is growing while you are away!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

TLC for the Garden

Thanks to the amazing volunteers that have been coming out so far to help get our garden on a great path!

We have crops growing and kids actively involved in helping that to happen.



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A New Garden Season Has Begun!

St. Cecilia's School Gardens are up and running for hopefully another fruitful season! 

A huge thanks to all those that came out on Saturday May 13th on a cold morning to help prepare the garden beds and clean up the school yard.  It took a lot of helping hands to add new soil, pull up weeds, rake up rocks on the grass left from old snow piles and  pick up garbage and old debris from the gardens surrounding the school.  It is amazing how quickly just a bit of work can start to transform the outdoor landscape.

This year, we organized the vegetable garden planting into 2 separate days so that classes could rotate through and help get the seeds and bulbs into the ground.  We had a majority of the children plant at least 1-2 seeds each which is pretty impressive given how many children are at St. Cecilia!  Thank you to the parents that came out to volunteer and help coordinate the children and classes.  Thank you to the teachers for be willing to participate in this experience for the kids.

Now, the garden is already growing! We have radishes, onions, kale and carrots all starting to come up.  We have planted potatoes, lettuce, beets and pumpkins as well.  The radishes will be ready for harvest before the children leave for summer break and the hope is that the remaining crops will be ready and available when the children come back to school in September.   We will likely be donating some of the lettuce and kale again throughout the summer to local food banks as they are a crop that keeps on giving throughout the season.  

Managing the gardens could not be possible without the help of volunteers over the summer months who have committed to weeding, cutting grass, watering and managing the crops as they grow. Thank you so much for your participation in this project - it is so valuable for our children to see how food grows!  

Stay tuned for further updates on this blog as the garden continues to grow.  If you have any pictures or comments that would like to be shared with the St Cecilia school community, I am happy to receive your them at