Building a Meditative Garden at Christ the King Catholic Secondary School
The students at Christ the King Secondary School received tremendous support from TD Friends of the Environment, Ontario150, and Greening Sacred Spaces Halton Peel to build a new meditative garden on the property in Georgetown.
When we first introduced the project to the students, there was a little bit of hesitancy. Lots of the students had never worked in a garden before. Many did not realize the beneficial properties of a garden not only for the environment, but for the students as well. But once we started building, it did not take long for the students to get out of their comfort zone and indulge in the earth, connecting to something much bigger than they expected.
For one week, our garden facilitator, Andrea Rowe, had full classes of students join her in the garden for hands-on workshops, informative discussions, and to physically start the building process. Not only were we able to get the students excited about the garden, but the teachers loved that it could tie into the curriculum with ease, providing more incentive to utilize the outdoor classroom in the spring.
Throughout the process of making and planting our meditation/pollinator garden, I was struck by how easy Andrea made it on me as a classroom teacher. She was prepared, organized, and full of positive enthusiasm. She was collaborative and worked to incorporate student ideas and curriculum expectations, while fielding all the questions the students had. I appreciated her endless patience and knowledge of the native species we were planting. The students were kept engaged throughout the cleaning and planting process, and were encouraged to try to do things that was new to them. I would not hesitate to do this project again and would highly recommend it to any school who would like to green their space.
— Carolyn Montgomery, Geography Teacher
Let Imagination Grow
It was easy to find out that you don’t only need gardeners to build a meditative garden! While the students may have been new to growing plants and flowers, they all have their own skills and interests that will contribute to the garden in the future.
We wanted to challenge the students, while emphasizing that everyone can meaningfully contribute to building a communal space. The art students have been left with the task to decorate, perhaps even painting the raised garden beds or creating up-cycled garden ornaments. CTK has a wonderful woodshop that has shown interest in creating items that can be placed in the garden, such as log benches and trellises to support the growing plants. The culinary program will now have raised beds to grow herbs to incorporate into their cooking to really understand the beauty of fresh foods from the garden.
Not only are we helping wildlife, but we're learning about planting native species and also benefiting others whilst we make the meditative garden. People will have a place to study or eat lunch during the warmer months and admire nature’s beauty. We also got to plant milkweed which is the only source of food that Monarch caterpillars will eat, we feel like we're actually making a difference by doing our part of planting the milkweed.
— Amanda W., Grade 11 student
This communal space has so much potential to bring students together, but more importantly, to signify how each student can contribute, not only to their garden or school, but how they can find purpose and meaning to applying their passions to improving their communities.
We had so much support from our local community, including the amazing volunteers that came out from the local TD branch in Georgetown. We were more than grateful to have volunteers who were eager and willing to get their hands dirty, while contributing to their local community. We can’t thank TD Friends of the Environment enough for their generous contribution! Also, to our friends at Ontario150 and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, whose funding allows us to continuously create positive change in our local community! Most of the plants used were purchased from our friends at Kayanase Nursery in Six Nations, providing a beautiful selection of native plants and a wealth of knowledge!
While we are excited to see how this garden grows, we are more intrigued to see how the students will own up to the challenge of maintaining and caring for this space. GSS was more than happy to plant the seed, but it’s up to the students of CTK to create a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy and appreciate what nature has to offer.
In an environment where people are busy and burdened, new projects aren’t always welcome. However, staff and students were eager to be involved and ready for this challenge. At every turn we had enthusiastic cooperation, whether it was to lend gardening tools, to bring classes to dig or to help with the watering schedule.
It seems that we all crave the connection to earth this work gives us.
It is encouraging to see our garden emerging. We’re anticipating that non-humans will enjoy our garden as well. We’ve already seen a Monarch butterfly. I’m expecting to see increasing numbers of worms and other little creatures in the soil, too.
We hope that our garden will open hearts to care for the earth.
— Mary Lozowski, Chaplain, Christ the King
This blog is part of a series of posts for the Ontario 150 Youth Garden “Growing Community” projects that are part of Ontario150 Partnership Program which provides youth with opportunities to actively participate in their communities in ways that reflect their creativity, cultural expression, diversity, inclusion, environmental stewardship, entrepreneurship, healthy living, and civic engagement.
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