PACT URBAN PEACE PROGRAM, TORONTO

Student garden

Our Adventure in the PACT Urban Peace Garden: by RJ Lang Elementary & Middle School

“Thank you again for being our community partner. The staff and students have not stopped talking about how amazing the experience has been and how awesome your staff is. Thank you!”
– Grade 3 teacher from RJ Lang Elementary & Middle School

The Grade 3’s excitedly left the familiar classroom environment, journeyed on the TTC (some for the first time), walked past the brick walls of the huge high school… past the basketball court… around the parking lot leaving behind the suburban life they know.

RJ Lang Grade 3 garden lessons

Nestled in the field is a magical place they couldn’t wait to discover. As the students walked through a path of bushes (almost like a maze), they entered a place where imagination and collaboration collides! The PACT Urban Peace Garden is not only an urban farm it is also a peaceful garden of learning.

Students in garden

The PACT Urban Peace school garden at John Polyani C.I. is a wonderful place for students of any age (Kindergarten to Grade 12) to learn about the world of agriculture and so much more. Our school, RJ Lang is very fortunate to have a partnership (and friendship) with PACT. The Grade 2/3 students have been given the opportunity to visit the garden three times in the last two months. After meeting with the dedicated team of David, Adam, Taylor, Mikayla, Paige and many more at our school, we discussed our learning goals and focused the lessons on Plants and Soils.

On our first visit, we were introduced to the energetic and caring facilitators who would be our guides. PACT takes care of the whole student by providing them with opportunities to warm up, play co-operative learning games like salmon run and collaborate with one another to plant pole beans and bush beans.  Students also planted beets using real garden tools.  Real world experiences helped our students develop real world connections. The leaders at PACT also took the time to teach vocabulary words as stories were told during garden walks. Students were encouraged to ask questions, make comparisons and to think critically about the plants they were observing and tasting like pineapple weed (a plant which they found when they came back to school) and chocolate mint.

Vermicomposting in the school garden

On our second visit we were able to set up a vermicompost by finding our own worms and insects. We worked together to build a safe habitat that would eventually give back to nature. We currently have 10 vermicompost bins at our school and the children take turns feeding and taking care of them.

While on our third visit of the year we were surprised to see how our seeds grew into healthy plants. We harvested sweet peas, wild strawberries and even made our own fresh salad to eat for lunch. Students observed the chickens and sprayed plants with compost tea.

Students in garden

PACT is a place where students can learn about their “own environment so we know how to take care of the nature in our city”. We learned to help other people set up a garden, compost bin and so much more. We cannot wait to collaborate with PACT to create our own learning garden at RJ Lang. PACT is an amazing organization. Whether you are visiting the garden, booking a field trip or researching their amazing community gardens, PACT is an amazing group of dedicated educators, environmentalists and humanitarians. The world is in good hands with programs like PACT. We are grateful to know them.

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