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James McQueen garden is growing

FERGUS - They came, they dug, they conquered.

The James McQueen Learning Garden is officially up and growing. A team of parent volunteers worked to tidy up and fill in the existing beds and construct an edible garden at the front of the school.

With help from parents and students it has been planted with goodies from peas to pumpkins, lettuce to lavender, and many colourful varieties in between. Another initiative launched by a spin off parent council group, Greener McQueen, the Learning Garden will serve as an outdoor classroom bringing the curriculum alive, getting kids outside and upfront and personal with Mother Nature.

From the lifecycle of the butterfly, to the connection between field and fork as well as learning how to plan and work as a team, the garden is intended to be an education tool for staff and serves to highlight what one can achieve in a small, urban space.

An open space perfect for an outdoor classroom has also been created. The edibles will be focused on spring and fall harvest fruit and vegetables so students can see - and taste - the produce they have helped to grow. Despite the slow start to spring all are hopeful they may get some produce prior to the end of term.

“This really has been a community effort,” said Terri Hobson, of Greener McQueen. “We have many people to thank - the Fergus Horticultural Society and the Fergus Optimist Club for their generous funding, along with the Green Up Your Schools grant.

“And local merchants Dixon’s Home Building Centre, Yard Weasels, and Littletree Nursery for their materials and generosity. A parent volunteer built the raised beds and many more donated plants, seeds, even manure.”

Greener McQueen hosted a big dig in May and many families came out on a wet Saturday morning and helped dig, plant, rake, weed, and shovel. Now staff, students, and parents get to see this project come to fruition – literally. Murray Skerritt’s tech class at Centre Wellington District High School is responsible for the obelisks, the focal points of the garden.

Greener McQueen has now handed over most of the yard work to Mlle Martin, whose grade 2 and 3 class is taking ownership of the garden to tend, water, weed, stake, and teach others about the wonders of nature, gardening and growing your own food.

For the summer, Greener McQueen is looking for willing families who could tend the garden for one week of the holidays – total commitment for that week would be just an hour’s work. It would entail weeding, dead-heading, watering, and a general tidying up and the family gets to keep any ripe produce that is ready during that week. To book a week email

Greener McQueen is an informal group of volunteers at James McQueen Public School. Its goal is to increase the environmental awareness of our students, their families and our wider community.

The three-pronged approach emphasizes making healthy food choices, promoting environmentally friendly actions and caring for the green environments within thee school and beyond. The group welcomes new ideas and enthusiasm. JamesMcQueen Public School is located at 365 St. George Street West, Fergus. Call 519-843-1700 for more information.


June 17, 2011


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