Urban gardeners help special needs students grow their own vegetables
Anyone with a green thumb knows there's nothing like eating vegetables you've grown yourself.
That's the idea behind a new business that helps Montrealers set up their own organic vegetable gardens. But it's not all about making money -- these gardeners volunteer their time to help students grow, too.
Started with a bunch of seeds and a few trays, the founders of Urban Seedling guided students at Summit School for five weeks, helping them meticulous caring for their crops -- even mapping out the progress of their lettuce of radishes.
The special needs school in St. Laurent helps young people by creating an enriching environment, and this project is no exception. The real lesson, of course, is about independence, said teacher Shannon Casey.
“We want them to feel confident and that what they're doing is serving the class and serving the community,” she said, a goal Summit School has had for the past 50 years.
“You learn by doing -- and for our population that's wonderful,” said principal Gloria Cherney.
The founders of Urban Seedling - organic vegetable gardeners for hire - were happy to volunteer their time to the school, even though they worried students, like some of their clients, might get discouraged.
“It was totally the opposite,” said founder Shawn Wayne Manning. “Even when things weren't going well, they were great about it and understood that some things grow better than others, and that gardening isn't an exact science.”
Despite some challenges, the results – fresh, delicious produce -- are delicious.
For Manning and co-founder Bryce Nagels, the experience has been just as rewarding.
“You walk in they're always so happy to see you,” said Nagels.
When asked if it made him a rock star, he replied with a laugh: “Yeah -- a vegetable rock star.”