Students at École Arthur-Pigeon (EAP) in Huntingdon got their hands dirty on October 24 as they helped to plant over 280 trees, edible plants, berry bushes, and shrubs that will grow to become their school’s new food forest.
As the winners of the “L’Écocitoyenneté, j’en mange!” contest, which was initiated by Quintus and the Jeunes engagés pour le développement durable (JEDD) organization, the high school officially inaugurated its food forest last week in the presence of representatives from JEDD, the Centre de services scolaire de la Vallée-des-Tisserands, and local elected officials. The contest prize, valued at $25,000, includes the creation of the food forest as well as eco-educational supports for the school over the next three years.
The contest organizers were impressed by the seriousness of the school’s approach, as well as the detailed and well-structured project that was proposed. The project stemmed from a career exploration activity launched by teacher Marianne Forget that involved planting seeds and caring for seedlings while learning about the horticulture profession. Last year, she decided to expand the project and stumbled somewhat serendipitously on the description for the L’Écocitoyenneté, j’en mange! contest.
“This competition was an incredible opportunity for the school and for our students,” said teacher Sophie de Montigny, who was also part of a team behind the project at EAP that equally included Lydia Ranger and Simon Lecompte. “We had a lot of ideas in mind. We wanted something that was immediate for the students and for the community,” she explained, noting the project was concrete and hands on for the students, but also very visible so they would be reminded daily of the project. “We hope that this experience will inspire students and help raise their awareness of environmental issues and food self-sufficiency.”
To make the edible landscape a reality, students received help from Arbre-Évolution, a co-operative specializing in social reforestation, edible greening, carbon technology, and environmental awareness. Students will now be responsible for cultivating and maintaining the forest, as well as harvesting. The food will then be offered through the school cafeteria and will be used in cooking classes with students where the prepared dishes are distributed in the community.
The school is also counting on the Les Complices Alimentaires organization to support students as they learn to process the harvested food. During the summer months, the school will also partner with the Maison des jeunes de Huntingdon and the Carrefour Jeunesse-emploi de Huntingdon to help maintain the food forest.