Morinville high school students joined a province-wide movement this month to introduce some 18,000 youths to gardening.
Morinville Community High School students delivered free seed kits to hundreds of area residents May 18-20.
The kits were provided through Grow Alberta — a new province-wide initiative meant to teach students about gardening and leadership. The program was highlighted during the online Cultivate: Youth Agriculture Leadership Summit held May 19.
Grow Alberta started last year when teacher Adam Robb of Calgary’s Career and Technology Centre got the idea to distribute free seeds and soil to students to get them into gardening, said MCHS teacher Neil Korotash. Korotash and a few other Alberta teachers copied Robb’s idea with their own garden kits.
Korotash said he, Robb, and about three other teachers decided to do a more organized province-wide campaign this year. With the help of students and sponsors, they set up five hub schools in Morinville, Edmonton, Red Deer, and Calgary to distribute seeds and soil to some 18,000 students at 255 schools.
Korotash said he and volunteers from his Urban Agriculture class helped package bean, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, sunflower, and wildflower seeds for distribution at about 30 area schools. The team also set out buckets of seeds and bags of dirt at MCHS so area students could make their own kits.
“I was constantly having to refill the (seed) buckets,” said Korotash, who estimated that about 150 students picked up free kits at the school.
Korotash said students would grow these mini-gardens at home or at school, and were encouraged to post pictures of the results on social media under the hashtag #GrowAlberta.
Speaking at the May 19 summit, Career and Technology Centre student Shelbie Chayeski said it was a lot of work for her and her peers to assemble some 5,000 seed kits, as they had to measure out the seeds for each packet with a spoon. Growing these plants was particularly rewarding, and helped her think about the realities of agriculture.
“It really expands your mind into bigger issues,” Chayeski said, such as climate change and food waste.
Korotash said these garden kits got students outside and moving around, improving their physical and mental health. They also helped people connect with nature and should hopefully spark interest in nutrition and an eco-friendly life.
“The benefits are endless!” he said.
Korotash said he hoped Grow Alberta would run again next year with the addition of student-led gardening workshops. He also had a few seed kits left for those who missed last week’s distribution.