CGN blog: Growing Up Organic

This is the fourth piece in an ongoing CGN’s blog. This blog will be filled with snapshots of the network, garden activities, garden profiles, coordinator profiles & more!

This post is about Growing Up Organic, a garden and farm-based educational program for children and youth.  The post is written by Nancy Moir at her blog Grown In My BackYard.

Parents and teachers, are you looking for a unique way to engage school-aged children in learning, teach them food skills and nutrition, and connect them with the environment?  Growing Up Organic (GUO) may have a solution for you!

GUO is a garden- and farm-based educational program for children and youth provided by the Ottawa, St. Lawrence, and Outaouais Chapter of Canadian Organic Growers.  Since its inception in 2007, GUO has enabled many schools across the region to build their own school garden programs. These gardens do more than produce delicious, healthy food; educators use them to foster experiential learning to meet their teaching goals.  They enliven the curriculum for students who feel disengaged or who could benefit from hands-on experience to help with their comprehension.

Implementing a school garden does not add to a teacher’s workload; rather it reduces it by providing a simplified, vivid, real-world model that can be used to teach almost any subject.  This program requires that students draw plans, calculate many different types of variables, engage in physical activity, and much more.  Students of all ages and backgrounds have expressed delight at working within a school garden and their schoolwork reflects this newfound excitement.  Through this, they acquire a solid understanding of the life cycles of plants, and an appreciation of the environment.

So, how does it work?  GUI hosts gardening workshops in the spring and fall that are free to OCBSB educators, and available to other schools for a fee.  In these workshops, GUO provides educators with an overview of the garden-based activities that they can facilitate in their schools. Their website offers a thorough overview of the preparation that should be undertaken before a garden is built. As well, each garden requires a support team of interested parents, teachers, and other community members.  GUO provides the information needed to fundraise, build, and maintain a school garden, and most importantly, to use as a tool within the curriculum.

GUO is more than just a repository of information.  Behind the website are the friendly faces of its facilitators and volunteer advisory committee (teachers, master gardeners, and stakeholders), who shape the program and provide support.  For more information, visit their website.

Start-up Farm Program

Just Food established the Start-Up Farm Program to support new farmers in the Ottawa region. By offering access to land, shared infrastructure/equipment, and training, the program aims to enable more people in this region to start their own successful farm business.

> Read More about Just Food’s Start-up Farm program