Students in the Garden: An Edible Schoolyard?

From a distance, Dr. Arthur Hines Elementary School looks much like any other small school in this area, its neat and tidy grounds punctuated by crayon-colored play equipment. Upon closer inspection, however, you’ll find something quite unique–and quite wonderful–taking place in the schoolyard.

Three years ago, the principal of Dr. Arthur Hines Elementary School, along with the Health Program Coordinator for the Hants Shore Community Health Centre, decided to introduce the students to the process of growing their own food and they started an organic vegetable garden in the school yard. Students from all grades chose what would be planted, tended the garden, and harvested the produce. Teachers were also encouraged to use the garden as a tool to teach parts of the curriculum. A healthy lunch program was developed using ingredients from the garden whenever possible.

Chef Michael Howell helps students with harvest.
Slow Food NS, used with permission)

Chef Michael Howell of Tempest Restaurant in Wolfville, NS guided the students through their garden, gathering ingredients and introducing them to the various textures, smells and flavors of the different plants. Tomatoes, beans, pumpkins, onions, cucumbers and turnips were selected and carted off to the school kitchen by the eager student chefs. Michael’s plan was to combine these local ingredients with readily available supermarket items to illustrate how healthy food can become part of children’s diets and to give the students some ownership over what they eat and the choices they make.

A 20-minute video detailing this process was produced which follows a year in the life of the garden at Dr. Arthur Hines Elementary School. This video will be made available at no cost to schools and School Boards, the Nova Scotia Department of Education, the Nova Scotia Department of Health, N.S. Health Promotion and Protection and all other interested groups who want to work with Slow Food Nova Scotia on the distribution of this video to meet their particular needs and objectives. A short segment of this video may be viewed here.

“The tangible reward is a meal that comes from their own garden. The deeper reward is re-establishing an understanding of and connection between the garden and the possibilities of a healthier lifestyle.”

I should say this project is a resounding success, and kudos to the students and their mentors! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see such projects in every school on some scale?

For more information, contact Brian Kienapple at


Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

20 thoughts on “Students in the Garden: An Edible Schoolyard?”

  1. Nancy,

    Indeed it would be wonderful to see this in every school…so much richness would be added to a child’s life.

    I love the slow foods movement and feel fortunate to have a few local
    restaurants participating in the experience.

    So glad you posted about the school program.


  2. Absolutely wonderful to see this! I dream that one day all schools may do something similar. The rewards are so great for the children, and the greater community. If we start teaching these things early we will create generations that are healthy in so many ways. Thank you!

  3. That is quite inspirational. Although our school gardening club is only two weeks old I have quite high hopes for it.

  4. Some of my favorite things to do with kids in the botanical garden where I work are ‘finding’ potatoes, pulling up onions, discovering strawberries, having them sniff herbs of various sorts in our raised bed Food for Thought garden– but even better is when kids grow their own vegetables!

    Thanks for a nice post!

  5. It would be wonderful to see this in every school Nancy. What a wonderful project.

    Chicago has an agricultural high school on the south side. My now-adult niece attended that school, and had a wonderful experience that greatly contributed to her love of gardening.

    Kudos to the adults who have the vision to create programs like this for kids, and may there one day be many more such programs.

  6. I bet they pay it forward for generations to come. Little children are where to start. I love children. They go at it so innocently and watch with such anticipation. They are tender hearted too.

    Bravo to this idea and it will reap and reach more than anyone can imagine. You saw that too didn’t you?

  7. How wonderful, thanks for sharing this with us, it’s inspirational to see what people are doing around the world.

    I also love the photo at the top of your blog!

  8. This is a wonderful program! From my teaching experience I can say that kids learn more from doing than from just reading and listening. And I bet they will gladly eat more vegetables, when they’re ones they’ve grown themselves.

  9. Great post Nancy! I wish my daughters school would do something similar. I think it’s a fantastic idea.

  10. Hello Nancy!
    Its a real inspiration when this happens – it makes children appreciate food more.

    Schools in the UK should do this more, rather than selling off their playing fields for housing!

    Would make us all a bit more self reliant, rather than supermarket reliant. Bred from an early age…..Fantastic!

  11. This is pretty cool! Yes, we should see this sort of thing EVERYWHERE, for lots of reasons. My goodness–it’s so easy, isn’t it?

  12. My wife (Shala) was telling me about this and so I had to come and check it out. I think it is AWESOME. They should have this everywhere.

  13. Absolutely it would be wonderful! In fact, I think growing food should be a requirement in schools

  14. Our school had a little veggie garden, but I don’t think anyone “stepped up to the plate” this year to keep it going. It would be wonderful to see it revived! This was an inspiring story.

  15. Hi Nancy,
    This sort of thing is happening over here to As more and more people realise the benefits.
    I had the first veggie out of my plot this morning, it was such a wonderful feeling, to think I had grown it.

    Cheers Mark

  16. What a fabulous idea. I think it’s wonderful to find ways to help children learn about the natural world in a good hands on way.

    Thanks for sharing.

  17. Thanks for the info Nancy. I would love to see this implemented in other schools.Thanks for the contact information as well!

  18. I’ve seen this sometimes at schools, but I’ve never been able to figure out how it would work in colder climes. By the time you plant, other than say, lettuce, school is over for the year. And then, who tends it in the summer? A year round school situation would be a perfect mix for a school garden.

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