Students are learning first hand the challenges and benefits of growing food locally through school garden projects funded by the province. A one-time grant of $500 per school is available from the Department of Agriculture’s school garden project to build and maintain a garden. The grant can also be used for teaching materials and soil testing fees. “School gardens help students link the food on their plates with a local farmer and build ties with their communities,” said Agriculture Minister John MacDonell. “This program is helping students understand and appreciate the important relationship among agriculture, food and healthy living.” Last year, 35 schools took advantage of provincial grants to develop a garden. Lyn Sutherland, a teacher at Wallace Consolidated Elementary School, used the grant to help her Grade 2 and 3 students understand and value the role of agriculture in our lives. “A school garden offers many valuable teaching opportunities and fits the curriculum,” said Ms. Sutherland. “It was an invaluable experience for the students that were involved, as well as for me. My students have benefitted by learning and enjoying a valuable and sustainable life skill.” Ms. Sutherland’s students harvested peas, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots and used them for healthy recess snacks. “Lessons learned in the garden can have long-lasting effects on student well-being,” said Brendon MacGillivray, principal of Beaver Bank-Kinsac Elementary School. “Our school’s garden helped strengthen a sense of citizenship and respect for the community that will hopefully carry on through the students’ lives.” The amount available through the school garden project is $20,000 and is to be distributed proportionally across school board regions. Applications are now being accepted. More information about the project and a school garden resource guide are available at www.gov.ns.ca/agri/agaware .