September News

Welcome back to another fun filled year with our wonderful Withrow community!  Just like our children, we too are happy and excited to see our friends, catch up on each others’ lives and see how all our children have grown over the summer… while we have not aged at all! 😉  There is no better way to do this than the… 

Welcome Back BBQ! 

It’s free, it’s fun and it’s for YOU!  It will be held on Thursday Sept. 14th, from 5:00 – 6:30 pm. If you are free, we could use some volunteers to help with set up, serving, cooking and clean up, so click here to sign up!

Reminder: please bring your water bottles / reusable cups, so we can keep as many disposable cups out of the landfill as possible. ♻

welcome back bbq 2016 .png

As you can see from last year’s event (above), it’s an annual tradition that’s not to be missed! We hope to see you there. 

Important Info

Our first Home and School Meeting will be held on Sept. 27 at 7:00 pm.  We love when parents get involved and want to have a say about what happens at our school! If you’re thinking of being a class rep, it’s especially important to join us, so you can share the information with your classroom’s parent community. Childcare will be provided.  Our meeting agenda includes:

  • curriculum discussion
  • nomination of potential Home & School co-chair
  • new volunteer page on the Home & School website
  • H&S goals for the year
  • and more…

Cobs Bread Card Fundraiser

We are thrilled to offer Cobs Bread cards once again! Fiona Boylan, owner of our local Cobs Bread franchise, is generously donating 150 cards to our school this year. Come and pick up yours at the Welcome Back BBQ!! Each card (valued at $48-$78) will sell for $30, and entitles the bearer to one (1) complimentary loaf of bread per month (one loaf per visit). All funds raised benefit Withrow! How great is that? Many thanks to Cobs Bread on Danforth (at Broadview) for their continued support! 

Withrow Spirit Wear

A BIG shout out to our Spirit Wear committee! Thanks to them, and our new TDSB vendor, we will soon be paperless; you can order items online and they will be shipped to your door. Yes, it’s true! And, in addition to Withrow’s official spirit colour, red, there will also be hoodies and sweats in black and grey options, too! We’ll share the link to our new Spirit Wear page on the vendor’s site as soon as it’s live. Note: we will be selling existing stock at the Welcome Back BBQ, so be sure to stop by the Spirit Wear table, where you can also get a sneak peek of our new Spirit Wear webpage!

Home & School Wants YOU!

Last, but most certainly not least…WE NEED YOU!!  We are currently working on a new Volunteer page on the Home & School website, and we’re excited about sharing it with you very soon!  There are so many roles, from wee to grand, that we’re sure at least one would match your skill set and fit your timelines. All of the amazing Withrow fundraisers wouldn’t be possible without the help of our parent community. You’d be surprised how much can be accomplished when each family volunteers only a few hours each year!

Thanks for reading and have a superb September…

Sincerely,

Your School Council Executive

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May Newsletter 🎉

Fantastic Fun Fair Facts đŸŽȘ

How lucky are we? There are those days where the sky is so blue, the jackets come off and the bulbs you planted last year pop out of the garden where you realize that life is cyclical, spring renews us all and
 IT IS FUN FAIR TIME AGAIN!

Stop!  Fun Fair?  Really?  Now?

No, you silly Withrow Parents! You’ve still got lots of time – but mark it in your calendar for Saturday, May 27th from 11-3! I know we said it last year, but given the raging success of FUN FAIR 2016 where are we going to go with 2017? The answer to any run-of-the-mill, Type A over-achieving types (who, us?) is bigger, better and more bad%$$ than even your wildest dreams could imagine. And we know you have wild dreams. Like the one where you keep dreaming you forgot to pick up your kid. (Seriously, are we the only ones who have those dreams?)

withrow fun fair 2

Hop on over to our brand new website at www.withrowfunfair.com to take a look at what’s happening – and most importantly, to buy wristbands which are on sale now! Don’t be disappointed: wristbands are only on sale until May 25th, and give you access to all the rides and one go around on the Zorb (the ZORB IS BACK!). We also have a new inflatable ride this year. We wanted to surprise you, but when a gigantic, inflatable obstacle course appears in the field, we’ll have given away the shock value. 😉

Most importantly – we need volunteers. The Fun Fair can’t happen without you. Please go to the website and click to volunteer – a two-hour shift at the book sale or manning the BBQ is always needed, and goes by in a blink. It is the event of the year for parents and kids, and while you are volunteering, your kid is likely going to be running around jacked up on sugar and adrenaline.

Here is all you need to know to help make WITHROW FUN FAIR 2017 the best one yet.

  • Wristbands cost $25 and give you access to all the rides, plus one go in the Zorb. On sale now!
  • New attractions: there is the amazing obstacle course, a SLIME table and a photo booth. Capture those memories of a lifetime!!
  • Epic Book Sale! Now is the time to spring clean your bookshelves – don’t donate them anywhere else, we want them! We will start collecting books the week of May 8th, and they can be left by the lost and found.
  • Talent show! The entry form is on the website. Get your kids excited about singing, dancing and we’re always on the look out for magicians! What’s your kid’s hidden talent?
  • Bake Sale and Cake Walk: We will be letting you know more about this closer to the date, but please think of amazing cake themes for the Cake Walk.

We want to thank our amazing sponsors who, year after year, make the Withrow Fun Fair possible: Fatima Bregman, Claudio Cerrito, Duck Wright Real Estate Team, Bluebird Montessori, Lillian Adamakis, Heinsoo Insurance, TAC Sports, Sandra Pate, Danforth Children’s Dentistry, DeFrancesca Law and Kitchen Music Studios!

Come to the Fun Fair for the whole amazing day, but please be sure to be there at 1pm when a DRONE WILL FLY OVER HEAD and take a picture of the chaos, madness and sheer joy that is the Fun Fair!! We will be selling the photos as a fundraiser after the event – money that goes back into your school! On the day of the event, take lots of pictures and post them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook – we’re all over social media this year, so please tag us @withrowfunfair or #withrowfunfair.

Sometimes, when we look at our kids we want to stop time. We want to relish each glorious moment and not let them slip past. The Fun Fair is the best day to do this. When your kids look back at their school memories, we know that their day at the Fun Fair is in the highlight reel.

Let’s make it the best Fun Fair ever, Withrow! Buy a wristband, volunteer, bake, donate books, but most importantly, be there.  Be there for your kids and for you school.


What an Auction! 🎉

And the winner of the new climber is … WITHROW SCHOOLYARD!

The Silent Auction had another successful year, raising over $28,500 for our school! It couldn’t have happened without the support of our generous donors and sponsors, the school admin staff, the teachers, the parents (that’s YOU!), and by the students themselves. Well done, Withrow community!

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A little bit about the event: our items ranged from date night staycation packages to a massage membership, and summer camps to a drill set… even a Nespresso machine! There was something for everyone! Add to that our fantastic bar, great food and amazing dĂ©cor, and this was a recipe for a fantastic evening and a great fundraiser. As always, the students and their teachers came up with brilliant class art and the parent community generously filled the class baskets. We also want to give a shout-out to the teachers who offered experiences for our raffle, which were hugely popular!

Thanks again to everyone who worked on the auction, and also to everyone who came out to mingle and bid! What a great night! Thank you!


Climber – Coming to a School Near You…Â đŸ«

Thank you to all of you who responded so quickly to our survey on whether we can release this years funds’ early for a downpayment on the climber. In total, we had 136 responses with nearly unanimous support (135 voted yes). The cheque has been sent out and our kids can look forward to playing on a new climber in the next school year.

withrow climber


Let’s Talk About Sex – or not? 😉

We’ll be presenting the third Withrow Parent Speaker Series talk on Thursday, May 18th in the Withrow Library from 7-9 p.m.

Let’s Talk About “The Talk”

Want to learn more about discussing sex and sexuality with your children? Janice Holsmer of Growing Baby will teach us about why it’s important, tips on how to do it and when to do it. Age appropriate discussion will also be explored.

Pay what you can (suggested amount $5); babysitting will be provided.


Meeting Minutes from March 30th Home & School Meeting

Click here to view the minutes of our last meeting.


Thanks for reading,
Your School Council Executive

Withrow Spring NewsÂ đŸŒ·

It’s winter! It’s spring! It’s balmy! It’s snowing! We’re in t-shirts! We’re in parkas!

The weather has been crazy lately and it just makes us want to bring on crazy spring! To get you in the mood with visions of daffodil bulbs dancing in your heads, we want to get you thinking about a few great events coming up at Withrow!

Lost and Found Update ⚠

The first day of spring will be honoured by a time trusted task – spring cleaning. The lost and found will be cleared out on Tuesday, March 21st, 2017, so please check it when school resumes on Monday.

Silent Auction 🎉

Save the date, people – this year’s soiree of the season is on Friday, April 7th. Leave the kids at home, and come out to bid on your kid’s artwork, class baskets and wonderful donations from the local Riverdale community. We promise it will be a spectacular evening filled with laughter, music and cocktails!

We are still in need of more donations so if you have a special talent to share, please do so. Are you an In-house chef? Personal trainer? Dental hygienist? Chiropractor? Thai Masseuse? Think outside the box, and donate! Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our silent auction committee chairs silke.willibald@gmail.com or ailidh.briar@gmail.com.

We also need volunteers to wrap room baskets, set up and host during the evening, so please consider donating a few hours of your time… it’s so fun! The sign-up sheet is HERE.

Schoolyard ClimberÂ đŸ«

It is very exciting that the yard that we have been working on, raising money for and waiting upon will be open soon. Happily, about a month after the thaw we will have access to the whole school yard! Now for the next project… Our landscape architect has sent us five proposals for our new climber ranging in dollar value from $15 – 20,000 uninstalled. TDSB estimates that the total cost for the completion of the project would be approximately 2.5 times the cost of the climber, therefore this would cost us, at most, $50,000.

Before the end of March, we will have the children vote on which climber seems most appealing to them. We will also discuss this at our next H&S meeting. Money raised from events (such as the Silent Auction and the Fun Fair) goes directly back into the school. Our Annual Giving campaign this year raised $7,600 and it is imperative that at year-end we vote to ensure we have the monies allocated appropriately in order for this to be installed. It’s important to have as much input as possible, so we will conduct the voting process for our annual budget on the internet, making it easily accessible to all parents.

Fun Fair đŸŽȘ

At times it might seem like we are asking you to donate, donate, donate. But we always give you something great in return, something that is truly the highlight of every Withrow family’s end-of-school year experience. Yes, the Fun Fair is just around the corner. This year is going to be even bigger and badder, with more rides, a slime table, the return of the best barbecue and pulled pork sandwiches, the Erica Stark bake sale, face painting, rides, Kiddie Canyon and a kick-ass talent show. The kids are already starting to plan their performances, and we might even be able to convince our now-famous choirs to sing. Mark Saturday May 27th on your calendar.

If you would like to join the Fun Fair committee this year, let us know. We have openings! Our urban planner needs someone (ideally an architect) to shadow him – he draws the map we use on the day of the event and makes sure all the rides fit! We also need a talent show coordinator, and someone to help steer our sponsorship committee or our volunteers! Please don’t be shy – we really need you! All newbies are welcome to join this great group of Withrow parents who walk around with big megaphones!

School Council Meeting Minutes 📝

The last Home & School / School Council meeting was held on February 9th. Meeting minutes can be viewed here. Many thanks to Withrow graduates Addison, Ethan, Morgan, Parker, Grace and Ginger, for taking the time to share their middle school experiences with all of the parents and students in attendance.

Canadian Parents For French – Concourse d’Art Oratoire

This year recognizes the 33rd year of the Concours et Festival d’Art Oratoire for Ontario. It is a public speaking festival where students who have won their own schools competition continue to eventually the provincial level with a opportunity to present at york University. All our juniors in French immersion have had an opportunity to present and Sophie-Claire Nicklin has been voted to represent Withrow at the next level. Congratulations Sophie-Claire and good luck!

Parent Speaker Series

Our next speaker series will be held on Thursday, March 23rd in the Withrow Library. “Making Sense of Math” by Teri Courcheme will be an interactive presentation that covers essential math skills including: games and strategies to help kids enjoy math; effective and free learning tools for key math concepts, what you need to know as a parent to help your kids with math and strategies for overcoming math anxiety – in parents and kids! Teri is a former Withrow Parent, volunteer and recipient of the Withrow 100 Citizenship Award (2012).

Next Home & School Meeting

Our next meeting is Thursday, March 30th. We will be discussing our staffing model for the year of 2017-2018 and our fantastic new climber.

Come out, hear what’s going on and voice your opinion. We love it when parents are involved in the school.

Parents Are Partners Conference

The TSDB has a special one-day conference for parents. The 2017 TSDB Parents are Partners Conference takes place Saturday, April 1st. Planned by TSDB parents, for TDSB Parents, the event features workshops and resources to help every parent support their child’s achievement and well-being, both at school and at home. Registration is open – the event takes place at the All Stream Centre; and lunch and transportation are provided with bus pickups. Registration closes March 20, 2017; admission is free.

Thanks for reading,

Your School Council Executive

Winter Newsletter

Meeting Summary from November 30

Thank you to all who attended our second School Council meeting of the year on November 30th. Principal Parravano presented a school update, including EQAO results, announcement of Helen Saroglou as our new full-time administrative staff member and the TDSB’s search for our new head custodian. Please click here to view our full meeting minutes.

Fundraising at Withrow

A lot of people wonder why we have so much fundraising at a public school. Due to our socio-economic location, our funding from the TDSB covers only the basics. If our school community wants to see other purchases or initiatives above the basic level, then we, as a parent body, need to fundraise to provide for all the “bells and whistles” that make Withrow extra special. In the past, the money raised has been used to fund technology for the school, garden education, school yard improvements and, recently, purchases of musical instruments and sports jerseys.

Historically at Withrow, we have done our fundraising through three main avenues: the Annual Giving Campaign, the Silent Auction and the Fun Fair. The AGC is a direct ask for cash and every dollar is used for the students. The Silent Auction uses the talents of a dedicated committee of parents to solicit donations and transform the gym into a posh venue for an elegant event. The Fun Fair has another fantastic body of parents remaster the school yard into a hopping, bouncing, singing, dancing, face painting bundle of fun.

This diverse range of fundraising vehicles means parents have opportunities to donate in the way that they are best able and that is most meaningful to them and their families. We all have a choice regarding how we donate to Withrow: you can volunteer time on one of these committees, or donate money to the AGC, or attend the events with an open wallet…or all of the above! Recently, we have received requests for other types of fundraising such as partnership programmes with local businesses. What a great idea! All of our Fundraising With Everyday Purchases can be found on our website, under “Ways to Support”. We currently have relationships with:

Important! All orders MUST go through the campaign pages of each fundraiser to get the fundraising dollars!

The decisions on how to spend the funds are always based on an open and democratic process. All parents and guardians at Withrow have a say! 

Annual Giving Campaign

Hopefully you’ve all checked your child(ren)’s backpacks and found our Annual Giving Campaign request. We have worked hard over the years as a community to make our schoolyard something of which we are proud.  This has been  accomplished through raising money via the fun fair, silent auction and your generous giving campaign donations. This year our primary focus is to install our climber in the area recently coined by our children: The Woodchip Area.

We hope you consider giving this year; donations of any amount are appreciated.  If you would like your donation directed towards a specific use, please make note of it via Paypal or include it with your cheque.

Property Update

In early November, H&S and our school administration met with the TDSB viability team to understand the process of installing an awesome climber in what is now being called The Woodchip Area. We were very excited to hear that this project could potentially be completed within a year. Of course, there are many levels to this process and we are hoping that before purchase, the children will have a vote on a choice of three. We have, as an outstanding community, raised enough money for the climber which we are hoping will fall under $20 000. The small surprise for some of us was that the installation generally runs two and a half to three times the cost of the actual item. Yikes!!! We are almost at a close with this 4 year project. The pit has been repaired, the trees have been planted (Thanks, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation), the track has been built and the field is solidifying as you read, and all this is thanks to a community that gets involved.

Withrow Cares Reminder

This year, with our increased awareness of Aboriginal issues and focus on the Canadian First Nations, we have chosen to support two charities:
1. Help send Inuit Care Packages to families in the North
2. Club Amik

Last year, Nanook Fareal decided to flip the Christmas tradition to send care packages to the north. As you may know, food in the northern part of Canada is quite expensive. She created a GoFundMe page and this year’s goal is to raise $10,000. Although this is not a registered charity, we hope that you would consider helping out this wonderful initiative. If you are interested please click on this link for more information.

Club Amik is an Aboriginal Literacy Initiative providing books and magazines to children in Ontario’s North. Club Amik is a registered charity. The charity provides books and resources to the Nishnawbe Aski Nation to approximately 35 communities. Please see the website for more information.

Lunchtime and After-school Programs

Lunchtime programs are open for registration starting on the morning of Thursday December 15.  Registration forms can be found on the afterschool blog. They will also be available for pick up from the office. Registration is on a first-come basis (with some priority given for students who have not attended a session this school year) and will close when programs are full. Programs are capped at 15 students for Chess and Drawing Club, and 20 students for Raising Readers.  Programs available for registration are: Chess for primary students for the winter and spring terms, Chess for junior students for the winter term, Drawing club for the winter term and Raising Readers for the winter term.  Registration will be confirmed by the end of the first week of school in January.

Registration for After-school Programs is also open.  Information can be found on the afterschool blog but registration is handled directly with the provider.

Silent Auction Update

The Silent Auction Date has been set so start booking your babysitters for April 7th 2017!
It’s the best night out in the neighbourhood, with delicious cocktails, friendly faces and great items for purchase. As always,  all proceeds go right to the school!
But…. we need your help! As you are out celebrating and shopping this season and in the coming months, please consider asking your favourite watering holes, restaurants, shops and service providers if they would like to support our school! It’s a great way for businesses to gain exposure and clientele. After all, don’t we all love to find a new delicious eatery, massage therapist, or nightspot?!

Please consider sharing your faves and any outreach you do with us at withrowauction@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Upcoming Dates of Interest

December 14 – Winter Concert
December 15 – Pizza Lunch 🍕
December 16 – Carols by Candlelight in Withrow Park (7pm-8pm at the Fire Pit)
December 23 – Last Day of School

January 9 – First Day Back
January 20 – PA Day
January 26 – Pizza Lunch 🍕

October Newsletter

Meeting Summary from October 5

Thank you to all who attended our first School Council meeting of the year on October 5th. We heard from Principal Parravano, who updated us on what’s happening at the school; we gave a brief overview of what the Home & School Association / School Council does, and discussed fundraising at Withrow. In addition, we held elections for both co-chair and secretary for the 2016/17 school year. We’d like to extend a warm welcome – and a big thank you! – to Lisa Rolland and Carol Keizer for volunteering to fill these important positions.

Click here to read the full meeting minutes. Our next meeting will take place on December 8th. (UPDATE: meeting has been changed to November 30th)

Parent Speaker Night – Thursday, November 3

Our first 2016 “Withrow Parent Speaker Series” is coming up on Thursday November 3rd, 7- 9 PM in the Music Room at Withrow.

Our speakers for the evening are Dr. Du La and Dr. Jonah Lusis of the Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine.  Both Du and Jonah are naturopathic doctors and Withrow parents.  They will be speaking on “How to incorporate a naturopathic lifestyle into your home to maintain good health, optimize academic success and have harmony at home”. The main focus of the evening will be diet and how to practically prepare healthy meals for our kids. We will discuss how this affects, sleep, activity and stress management. We will also discuss whether kids need supplements and be available to answer any questions. Childcare will be provided.

Field Update

Our field work is almost complete, and it’s looking really good out there! The fencing around the grass will remain until the spring (approximately three weeks after the thaw). This will be done annually to protect the grass and ensure it has every opportunity to thrive. Tree planting is set to happen in the next few weeks, and the lines will be painted on the new track in the spring.

COBS Bread Fundraiser Update

Thank you to COBS Bread for their generous donation; we raised an unbelievable $2400! The first round of cards was distributed October 21st. If you paid after October 20th, your card(s) will be distributed to you this week.

Many thanks to Fiona Boylan, owner of the COBS Bread at 156 Danforth Avenue, for providing us with such an amazing fundraising opportunity! We are fortunate to have such wonderful support from local businesses like this one.

Coat Drive

M. Cronin’s class is running a coat drive to support New Circle.  New Circle Community Services is a not-for-profit, grass-roots agency that builds strong and caring communities by providing basic necessities to those living in poverty. The coat drive will probably wrap early this week – so keep the coats coming. Men’s and boys are particularly needed. The drop bin is outside the office. Coats should be in good condition.

Community Newshalloween-riverdale-show

Many of you already know about the amazing Riverdale Halloween Show that takes place every Halloween night in our neighbourhood, at the intersection of Langley and Howland. For those who don’t, this musical extravaganza is organized by – and populated with – many talented Withrow parents and their kids. Take a peek at their Facebook page for more info. This year’s production is titled ‘Ghost in the Machine: How Technology stole our Halloween’. It’s a musical comedy about how tech issues plagued last year’s show and how adversity was overcome. You don’t want to miss it. Show times are set at 7:30pm, 8pm and 8:30pm.

September Newsletter

School Council Meeting

The first School Council meeting of the year will take place on Wednesday, October 5th, 7–9pm. Parent representatives from each class are asked to attend, as well as any other parents/caregivers who are interested in what’s going on at Withrow. This meeting is targeted at people new to the school; we will discuss what the School Council does as well as discuss some of the fundraising we do through our Home and School arm. One topic we would like to broach is what people think about how we do our fundraising. And for those of you who are old hands at the school, we are looking to fill a co-chair position for the 2016–17 school year, so if you’re interested, let us know! We are always looking for volunteers who want to get involved and make our kids’ experiences at Withrow the best they can be! Childcare will be provided.

Lunchtime and After-school Programs

We have just opened another lunch time chess program for Juniors (Grades 4-6).  Registration opens on Thursday (tomorrow, September 29) at 8:30 am in the office.  There are also 2 spots left for lunch time drawing on Thursdays (grade 2-3) and a few spots for Raising Readers (Grades 1-2).

Registration for all after-school programs continues.  We have added Chess (Mondays after school), Lego (Quantum Kidz on Tuesdays) and Lego Programming (Bricks4Kidz on Wednesdays).  Programs will be cancelled if there is insufficient enrollment.  Information for all programs can be found on the after-school blog – http://withrowafterschool.blogspot.ca/.

Withrow Silent Auction

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Silent Auction Preparations are starting!

There is nothing silent about this Auction (despite its name). In fact, this is the most coveted event in the Withrow parents’ calendar each year. To keep it that way, we require fresh blood for our committee. Everyone can help.

Do you want to be our:

  • Advertising and Social Media Guru
  • Volunteer Monitor
  • Food and Drink Manager
  • Class Art Director
  • Donation Hustler 
?

For all this hard work you will dive deep into the Withrow community, spend fun evenings with like-minded parents, get to check out amazing cocktails before the auction and generally feel good about yourselves for knowing that you have contributed to an event that brought in $31,000 for the school last year alone. If you are interested, just email us at withrowauction@gmail.com.

Fundraising With Everyday Purchases

For a limited time only, we’ll be selling COBS Bread cards* – good for 12 loaves of bread  for only $30! That’s half price off fresh bread!

Our neighbourhood COBS Bread (on Danforth at Broadview) has generously donated these cards to Withrow, with 100% of proceeds going to our Home and School Association. If you love fresh bread (we know you do!), this is a great way to get a fabulous deal and support our school at the same time!

To purchase, fill out the sign-up form and we’ll email you with payment details. Cards are available until October 6th, so get yours soon!

*Maximum of two cards per family, please.

To view all of the “everyday products” we fundraise with, check out the fundraising section of our website.

Lost and Found

Can you believe there’s already a ton of items in our Lost and Found? The first clean out will take place on October 7th, so please ensure you check the Lost and Found by that date to retrieve any missing items. 

Greening Committee

Parent Gardeners!  Withrow School needs your help, and would welcome your assistance with the weeding, pruning and general taming of the Withrow Native Garden (located just beyond The Friendship playground structure).

Created in 2009 from grant monies secured by parents, the Native Garden was originally an outdoor classroom and educational resource for teachers, showcasing a stunning variety of plants native to Southern Ontario. But over the years, this space has grown wild!

While parents are welcome to hop the fence and weed anytime (e.g. after school, weekends), please ALSO mark your calendars for a special WEED-FEST on Friday October 14th from 3:30 to 5:30pm. Gardeners with knowledge, skills and tools are especially welcome.

Please indicate your interest to paulinestanley@rogers.com.

Withrow School Food Garden Update

We’ve had another productive spring and summer in the Withrow School Food Garden. It’s hard to believe this is already my 7th growing season working as the School Garden Educator at Withrow! In the past few months, I have done a few presentations about my work in school food gardens, which has given me a chance to look through pictures from the past few years. I’m constantly amazed by how much the garden has changed and how much I have learned from working in the garden with students and collaborating with teachers.

Despite the dry spring and summer, we’ve been able to explore and taste a number of things from the garden. Every spring, we have plenty of “volunteer” plants sprouting from last fall’s seeds, and even this fall, we have salad greens and herbs popping up from plants that went to seed over the hot dry summer. And new lemon balm plants seem to be finding their way to all corners of the garden, which always makes the kids happy.

Mme Boujos’ class has already had a chance to do a bit of harvesting to make some kale and herb pesto, which they really enjoyed (even those who were adamant they did not like kale nor garlic)! One of my favourite cooking lessons last spring was with Mme Johnna’s SK class. There wasn’t yet enough to harvest in the garden, so we used some Ontario storage crops from the farmers’ market, such as beets, radishes, carrots and cabbages, as well as some chives from the school garden. Students peeled, grated and cut the veggies and we added a simple dressing. The only complaint I heard was “We were only allowed 4 servings!” Seems it was quite a hit!

One of the new lessons I’ve started with over the past year is Garden Mapping and Planning. During the first lesson, we map and measure the garden, and learn why farmers or gardeners need to know how big their fields or gardens are. During the second lesson, students have the chance to plan what they would like to grow in the garden. They take into consideration what grows in Ontario, what can grow in the shade or needs a lot of sunlight, and how much space different plants need. I was definitely inspired by the students’ plans when planning this year’s garden!

Garden Club has started again for the fall season and we have already started doing some garden maintenance. We have students from a range of grades, which is really nice. A couple of the older students have been in Garden Club since they were in grade 1 and are now able to take on more of a mentorship role in the club. I know that they can work independently on certain tasks while I work with the younger ones, or that the older students can lead a small group of younger students with tasks they have become familiar with. I really enjoy working with this group of young gardeners. Garden Club is open to new members in grades 1-6 in September and in April.

If you would like to read more about my work at Withrow and in other neighbourhood school gardens, check out my blog or follow me on twitter.  ~ Elin