CHARLOTTETOWN – Dec. 19, 2017 – Learning how to produce food, transferring knowledge and establishing a magnificent collaboration between several partners throughout the province: these are but a few of the many benefits of the Gardens for the Future project that RDÉE Prince Edward Island initiated a while back.
The RDÉE’s youth development officer, Stéphane Blanchard, says he is extremely pleased with the success of the first year of this vast project, whose primary goal was to establish vegetable and herb gardens on the grounds of the province’s six francophone school-community centres, which of course also involved the French Language School Board’s six schools. The primary audience for this project were the children from the early childhood centres (ECC) located in the six schools.
The members of the « Good Workers » Youth Services Co-op, aged 12-17 years, played a large role in the success of the program. They first served as carpenters for the construction of picnic tables and raised vegetable beds. But they primarily served as mentors for the pre-school children, aged 0 to 5 years, by teaching them how to plant seeds and to care for the resulting vegetable plants.
The Gardens for the Future project first benefitted from a $7,500 contribution from Farm Credit Canada’s Expression Fund.
« This first funding served as leverage to get contributions from other funding sources to expand the project. The provincial francophone health network, Le Réseau de santé en français de l’Î.-P.-É., then made a contribution to increase the number of raised beds for the ECCs, in addition to providing gardening picnic tables for children aged 0-5 years, » explains Blanchard.
He notes that the Société Saint-Thomas-d’Aquin also used the FCC leverage to obtain supplementary funding through Canada 150 to provide an opportunity for the six school-community centres to improve their school-community gardens that had earlier been started thanks to the FCC funding.
Next, the six francophone school-community centres got to see nice little gardens growing thanks to the Youth Services Coop and the ECCs throughout the province. Some installed rain barrels to help maintain their gardens.
« Some of the centres had different needs than others. We built raised beds for all ECCs. We provided basic gardening tools, such as shovels, hoes, watering cans, planters, etc. We also bought large quantities of seeds to distribute to each centre, » explained Blanchard. « We also set up strawberry and raspberry beds in each ECC so that the children will be able to literally continue harvesting the fruits of this project for many years to come. »
« Overall, we accomplished much more than we had anticipated at the start since the initial project created a momentum and several other sources of funding were tapped into, thanks to the original funding from the FCC Expression Fund, » concludes the development officer.
CUTLINE: The young Sophie Hilton and Dlan Andrews-Christian are seen watering plants in the garden at the early childhood centre, Les petits rayons de soleil, in Rustico, which was set up by various partners and gardening projects, including one that was funded through Farm Credit Canada’s Expression Fund.
For more information:
Youth Development Officer
RDÉE Prince Edward Island
(902) 370-7333, Ext. 402