Urban agriculture for humans and bees: N.B. students get their hands dirty while learning to garden

Gardening is often said to be good for the soul, but it can also be a lot of work. That’s something second-grade student Amelia Hicks now knows all about.

“You have to make the holes and you have to put the seeds in and then you have to cover up the seeds, but then you have to leave them there and put water on them until they start to grow,” says Hicks.

The students at Bessborough School in Moncton don’t seem to mind digging in and taking on the job.

Principal Nick Mattatall says the school recently received a grant from the World Wildlife Fund to upgrade their current community memorial garden into the perfect place for pollinators.

“We planted 40 lbs. of sunflowers that are actually just germinating in the last 24 hours and about 30 lbs. of wildflower seeds," says Mattatall. "So we’ll have an urban pollinator sanctuary for bees and butterflies and all kinds of other insects."

Fiona Mattatall says her grade two class has been learning about all the different types of insects that will soon call the garden home.

“We’re learning about the circle of life about butterflies right now,” says Fiona Mattatall.

The garden isn’t just for the pollinators, though. Students who help tend to the fruits and vegetables are allowed to take a few treats home to their families.

“At my house, we use the zucchini and mash them up and put them in cakes with chocolate chips,” says Fiona Mattatall.

“It’s just fun to grown them because afterwards, you eat them and I find they taste better because you grew them,” agreed Hicks.

It isn’t just the pollinators and students who benefit from all the hard work. A portion of the fruits and vegetables grown in the garden will be donated throughout the community, as well.

“The kids use it as part of our global goals to support some of our local food banks and the Humanity Project, so they give back stuff that they harvest from our gardens too. Not just to the local community, but also to those who are less fortunate,” said Nick Mattatall.

Soon, the gardening won’t have to stop when the students leave the schoolyard. More than one hundred packets of seeds have been donated to the school by Rainbow Seeds, a local seed supplier in Riverside-Albert, N.B.

“Everything from fennel to corn, to radishes, are going home today, so they can plant their own gardens in their house,” said Nick Mattatall.