Berry Creek, Youngstown Schools of Excellence moving forward

Principal Leanne Jacobson shares a presentation on Berry Creek's proposed School of Excellence Greenhouse with the focus on Farm to Table practices. ECA Review/Screenshot
Written by Terri Huxley

The principals of Berry Creek and Youngstown presented separately on their ideas for schools of excellence in recent weeks.

At the regular board meeting for Prairie Land trustees, the final decision was made to allow both school projects to come to life thanks to an irregular surplus for the 2020-21 year.

Both schools have chosen to pursue a greenhouse type project and many were skeptical they would be too similar when the schools of excellence are designed to create diversity but after explanation, they are quite different.

For Berry Creek School, gardening and a greenhouse have already taken root in and outside the classroom.

Leanne Jacobson led an insightful presentation including a video with students, parents, teachers and community members giving their two cents on the benefits of having the Farm to Table & Beyond theme as their choice in schools of excellence.

“We want to showcase the excitement and enthusiasm this project is generating in our school and amongst our community members,” said Jacobson.

Many ideas have come from students like aquaponics and fishing, a succulent and fern living wall, a butterfly garden, growing herbs for tea production, poultry incubation and production, hydroponics table to expand current grow towers, bees and honey collection.

The school chose a greenhouse and community garden as Cessford is an isolated community where it can be hard to get fresh produce and other necessities.

A parent in the video that was shown shared that they felt better knowing they could pick their child up from school and grab some produce at the same time.

“These are natural extensions of the projects already taking place,” said Jacobsen.

She added that the school’s current projects are ‘bursting at the seams’ so this is the time for them to expand their current operations.

Farm to Table & Beyond is a vision to bring the program of studies to life and re-imagining what great teaching and learning looks like by connecting and embracing rural roots while celebrating and honouring cultural traditions and ensuring a legacy of environmental stewardship.

“It provides an experience where students can embed themselves in the work they do,” she said. “It links to their roots and allows them to be proud of being rural students.”

A passport will be given to students from Grade 1 to Grade 12 where they will track their findings, challenges and outcomes of their horticulture projects and by the time they leave the school, they will have this documentation to reflect on.

The school applied for a grant/program from the University of Guelph where they were selected as one of 200 schools to have bees for research.

During the summer months, the box will be installed to record and better understand the pollination practices of bees and their interaction with traditional plants.

The box will then be sent back to the university where results will be shared.

Berry Creek will be getting $227,000 to support this initiative as part of their surplus.

Youngstown School is focusing on research and entrepreneurship within their greenhouse endeavour, hoping to make it a jewel within the community.

The board of trustees will be giving them $322,000 to cover the first year and to purchase and build the building.


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.