Growing, preparing and sharing food part of school’s grant-winning program
- Andréa Ledding | February 24, 2021
Staff and students at St. Mary’s Wellness and Education Centre in Saskatoon were delighted to win a $10,000 grant from Mosaic for their grassroots initiative to increase nutrition and reconciliation.
“We try to put an Indigenous lens on much of the learning we do in the classroom, striving to make a connection to the land and Indigenous Knowledge,” said Greg Bubnick, a grade 8 teacher at St. Mary’s. Classes have sewed ribbon shirts and skirts, cut up deer and geese for cooking and prepared hides.
The school was able to buy indoor garden towers that are great for growing lettuce year round.
“We have a couple kids a week build a salad and bring it home. We used to feed each other, make soups and salads and sandwiches once a week, but COVID shut that down, so we get them to build a salad and bring it home and feed their family with it,” Bubnick said.
The school also plants an outdoor vegetable garden from May to September.
“This year we’re also adding a medicine garden with native species. It’s a teaching garden and the kids are helping to pull that together, and another big part of the project is a food forest.”
They’ll use some of the grant money to buy fruit trees and plants for the school yard, and the entire community will be welcome to harvest the saskatoon berries, haskap, chokecherries and blueberries.
The Mosaic money is also going towards field trips to swales, ponds, habitats and natural settings.
“The bus is a big deal because most classrooms can’t afford to get around everywhere,” Bubnick said.
He says the kids really enjoy processing meat, planting seeds, and digging in the dirt, but they also embrace the curriculum aspects where they display, through computers or technology such as PowerPoint, films and essays, what they’re learning about through gardening.
The goal is to fulfill curriculum requirements and outcomes while incorporating Indigenous teachings and active learning.
“(We) try to make it benefit the community as much as we can,” Bubnick added. “We ask, how can we better the school, the neighbourhood, help our friends and family and the community? When the kids know they’re cooking supper for their family they kick it up a notch.”
Another outcome is kids are always asking for the next experience out on the land and looking forward to the next trip, he said.
“Attendance always goes up, land-based experience elevates attendance in the classroom,” he said.
Since 2006, schools from across the province have submitted projects to compete for $100,000 in prizes, provided by Mosaic.
Recipient schools chosen by the Saskatchewan School Board Association in 2020 were part of the Good Spirit, Greater Saskatoon Catholic, Horizon, North East, Prairie South, Regina Catholic, Saskatchewan Rivers, Saskatoon Public and South East Cornerstone school divisions and Muskoday First Nation.
Earl Greyeyes, Public Affairs Indigenous Engagement Coordinator for Mosaic, says they are happy to support the programs.
“It’s nice to see all the different initiatives that have come forward - breakfast programs, lunch programs, kitchen renovations, it’s all around providing a really good environment for the youth of Saskatchewan,” said Greyeyes, adding that St. Mary’s unique ideas have been exciting to see.
”It’s a wonderful and interesting program and I‘m just happy to be a part of it.”