Riverside’s about to go green – on Wednesday Jan. 17, math teacher Ms. Ronak Pahlevanlu recorded student interest for a school gardening club. If approved, the club would be responsible for tending to a garden of fruits and vegetables grown here at Riverside each year.

Ms. Ronak Pahlevanlu is a teacher at Riverside Secondary.

“My family and I have been growing much of our own food over the past four years and it has been a rewarding experience,” said Pahlevanlu. “I want to pass that on to the students at Riverside.” Studies have shown that at schools with gardening programs, students are overall happier, less stressed, and achieve better grades – especially if the program is tied in with science and biology courses. Although Riverside’s new club isn’t at that level yet, it’s an important step in the right direction.

In recent years, there’s been a push across Canada and the US for school and community gardening, backed up by new evidence that suggests large benefits for people involved with communal gardens. The current proposal at Riverside is to create shopping cart gardens – “We were gifted some shopping carts from Safeway and we are going to convert those into gardens,” Pahlevanlu said. “Line them with material, fill it with dirt and use it as a garden bed on wheels.” But if the gardening program is successful, there’s plenty of space around the school to create a real garden from the earth.

“As a society, we are so far removed from where our food comes from and the work that went into growing it; even the work it takes to grow flowers or herbs,” Pahlevanlu said. “I think it’s important for student to be aware of that. I also believe students have much to learn from the patience, problem solving and trial and errors necessary in gardening. Plus, it’s always nice to get your hands dirty!” she said.