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New CCS garden to have wide-ranging impact on local education

Canora Composite School has started on a significant project this year called the CCS Student Wellness and Sustainability Initiative. We are striving to improve our students’ learning experience by embracing agriculture and getting outside.

Canora Composite School has started on a significant project this year called the CCS Student Wellness and Sustainability Initiative.

We are striving to improve our students’ learning experience by embracing agriculture and getting outside. Our goal is to incorporate experiential, hands on learning, with a focus on holistic health. In 2020-2021 students, staff, and community volunteers built a 5,750 square-foot garden that is used to teach students how to plant and maintain crops. Students learn about soil science, plant science, healthy eating, hard work, and sustainability through hands on experiences.

Students from each grade, including the Grade 4 students from Canora Junior Elementary School were involved in the planting process. Students weeded the garden and watched it grow in June. Over the summer, a few CCS students will have the responsibility of maintaining the garden and harvesting any produce ready during July and August. They will be packaging these vegetables and selling them at the Canora Farmer’s Market. The income generated from this project will go back into our CCS Student Wellness and Sustainability Initiative.

A big thank you goes out to Darcy Korol who donated nine loads of composted manure to our school. Danny Rakochy donated his time and equipment to rototill the garden plots. Shannon Leson from Leson’s Funeral Home hauled manure to the school with his truck and trailer. Canora Home Hardware donated a portion of the tools purchased and we received a discount on plants and seeds purchased from the Canora Greenhouse. To ensure we can maintain the garden over the summer, Logan Stevens Construction also provided a discount on a rototiller for our school. None of this would have been possible without the support of grant funding.

Canora Composite School was nominated through the Canada’s Farmer’s Grow Communities Grant sponsored by Bayer in the total of $2,500. CCS received an additional $2,500 grant from the Nutrien Garden Grant, and a $3,000 grant from Nutrients for Life. We want to say a big thank you to everyone who contributed to our initiative. Your support has had an immediate impact on our students’ learning.

The CCS Student Wellness and Sustainability Initiative does not stop here. Our next goal is to renovate the school’s kitchen to make it into a suitable and safe learning environment. The goal is to use the produce from the garden to teach students how food ends up on their plate. Students will harvest their own produce and prepare it in the kitchen. Currently, our kitchen is inefficient and lacking space which limits the number of students who can work in it at one time. This prevents us from offering a Food Studies course. The proposed renovation would allow us to offer a High School Food Studies course, Middle Years PAA courses, and a course for Functionally Integrated students to learn about processing the food.

Teachers and community experts will teach our students invaluable skills, while allowing our school to offer healthy and nutritious meals to students at lunch, breakfast, and healthy snacks throughout the day. It also allows CCS to host venues outside of school hours, benefitting community members and possibly teams travelling to Canora for school events. The garden and newly renovated kitchen create more opportunities to teach our students valuable life skills, and ensure they are provided healthy and nutritious meals throughout the day.

Although the kitchen renovation is our next project, we will continue to look at ways to find resources for an outdoor classroom and improve the learning environment with the addition of trees, a chicken coup, and seating areas. Additionally, we are working on a plan to improve our fitness centre. We believe that holistic health encompasses everything listed above, and we are motivated to meet the needs of our students.

CCS has roughly 280 students and we know they can learn from the community members in Canora. We hope that once pandemic restrictions are lifted, skilled and knowledgeable community members can come and teach our students cultural traditions, preservation and baking techniques, and how to process food and create some amazing dishes. We are also looking at planting many native species of plants and trees on our school grounds. Our hope is that local experts, knowledge keepers and Elders can teach our students how they can benefit from growing certain plants and give our students some insight into the past and Indigenous Culture. Getting the community involved in the planting of the garden and in the kitchen, adds to our student’s learning and we hope that our community members volunteer to be a part of this great project!

As mentioned before, our first step was to build a garden and plant it. Going forward, our goal will be to start work on the kitchen in the 2021-2022 school year. Many pieces need to fall into place for this to happen. We have been applying for grants locally and nationally. The kitchen renovation alone will cost roughly $110,000 for the cabinetry, new appliances, and cookware. That doesn’t include the cost of labour and construction that will be involved in the renovation. To show CCS is committed and motivated to make this happen, our SRC will be contributing to this project. We believe that a renovated kitchen is essential for student learning and student health, and we will work hard to make it happen. If anyone is interested in helping us financially or sharing your knowledge with our students, please contact the office at 306-563-5492 or email



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