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Nurture Through Nature

Nurture Through Nature

Tuesday, July 05, 2016
Categories: Great Things, Happenings @ TDSB, School Web Stories

A new program at Humewood CS is receiving attention for its innovative approach in combining eco literacy and wellness. "Nurture Through Nature" (NTN) features a sensory garden section in the school’s larger Early Years Garden.  

Vice-Principal Barbara Sandler said that the garden is very much a whole-school initiative. “Whether together with friends, or individually, this garden is a space to relax, rejuvenate and reflect on how a community can come together and cultivate healthy relationships with one another, one's self and one's environment,” she noted. “The sensory garden engages not only the physical senses but also each person's emotional well-being.” 

To support the initiative, staff worked with the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) to develop and grow the garden, selecting indigenous plants that would draw butterflies and bees.  DSF representatives also hosted workshops for every class on how to grow a seedling. 

Sandler and Principal Julie Whitfield said that school staff have embraced the project, incorporating various areas of the curriculum. Humewood teacher Martha Toulouse, who leads an Ojibwe language program, utilizes the garden to help students learn about the four sacred medicines in the Anishnabe culture. The garden is now home to sage and sweet grass plants. The school’s librarian, Todd McNamara, worked with classroom teachers this past year to host seed-planting sessions using biodegradable containers. He also coordinated partnerships between kindergarten and junior classes with the "planting partners" program. At the same time, teachers France Castonguay, Jessica Salamon, Carrie-Anne Dyson and Lindsay Resnick and their grade 3 students designed and built greenhouses in which many pots were placed. The seedlings grew and, as the weather warmed, were brought outside to be transplanted into the garden.

Students also learned the value of weaving as a meditative and calming practice, which they also incorporated into the NTN project. In April, Humewood hosted an ECO-Fair where all classes showcased work related to environmental themes. Staff sourced recycled materials and parent volunteers led a "weaving wishes" station at the ECO Fair. Students and their families took a strip of material and wrote a wish for the world and/or their community and wove the strips through the fence. 

During the ECO Fair, families also worked hard to prepare the beds for the sensory garden. A list of preferred indigenous plants was shared and families donated those plants to the garden. 

“Humewood is proud to watch this garden grow,” said Whitfield. “Each student can proudly say that they planted a seed that will blossom.”

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To enable all students to reach high levels of achievement and well-being
and to acquire the knowledge, skills
and values they need to become responsible, contributing members of
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