Growin' their own

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September 6, 2016 9:36 AM

GRADE 1 teacher and new garden operator at Neilburg Composite School, Allison Winsor, recieved a cheque for $1,500 to go toward the school's new gardening project from general manager of Silverwood Toyota, Danny Ulmer. Winsor and Ulmer pose with some of the Grade 1 students who helped plant the first crop of lettuce. JAIME POLMATEER LLS PHOTO

NEILBURG—Many Neilburg Composite School students will be sporting green thumbs from here on out, after recently getting a cash boost to go toward a new garden project at the school.
The $1,500 grant, which was issued Thursday, came from the Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds program and will go to the school’s garden, in which they plan to grow a long list of vegetables to teach students the joys and benefits of growing food.
“We’re going to send it home to sample with their parents and we will eat some of it in the classroom for snacks and that sort of thing; we’re going to have the kindergarten class and the Grade 1s and 2s work on this in the spring,” said Allison Winsor, Grade 1 teacher and leader of the garden project. “There was talk of a horticulture program in the industrial arts in the high school—we’re hoping to branch out more and what’s better than hands on learning?”
Winsor ordered a number of organic seeds through the Evergreen Learning Grounds program and plans to plant everything from carrots, cucumbers, lettuce and pumpkins to peas, beans and cilantro.
The students did plant a quick crop of lettuce on the first day of school in hopes it will come up before the frost hits.
Besides the obvious benefits of having fresh produce from a trusted source, Winsor said the children will also learn skills they can carry with them throughout the rest of their lives.
“There’s so many skills involved and it’s something they can do as adults; if they’ve done it enough at school as a child than they’d probably have better success as an adult if they want to try something on their own,” she said, adding the little bit of gardening already done last week is already a hit with her students.
“When it came to planting the kids absolutely loved doing it; they all wanted to take turns with the trowels and they had their gardening gloves on—they were dropping seeds everywhere, so who knows what we’re going to have growing here,” she laughed.
It was the donation from Toyota that made everything possible, with Winsor going as far as saying none of it would have happened at all without the offering of funds.
So many other initiatives are carried out at the school, most of them involving things like math and literacy, she said, and that’s where most of the funding goes.
“I would like to thank Toyota for this opportunity because, like I said before, we wouldn’t likely have done something without the financial support—so we can’t thank Toyota enough for this, it’s great,” she said.
Danny Ulmer, general manager of Silverwood Toyota, who presented the cheque to the school, said Toyota has always been a frontrunner in green technology, and this project is just another way for the company to make the world a cleaner place.
“It’s just a good fit for Toyota to partner up and get grass roots with local communities and connect the dealerships with local schools,” he said.

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