The garden club at Riverside Secondary planted vegetables last week to teach students what it’s like to grow your own food. The club has a garden in the compound near the portables that consists of six shopping carts in which they’ve planted a variety of food and plants. They recently added a new cart that has radishes, garlic, carrots, and bok choy. Some of the vegetables will be ready in about a month and others will take longer.

One of the shopping carts in the compound.

The people in the club choose the vegetables they wanted to plant, but they plant and take care of the space collaboratively. Ms. Ronak Pahlevanlu, a teacher at Riverside Secondary and advocate of the garden club, along with Mr. Brian Chan, says they wanted students to know how much work and effort it takes to grow your own food. “People go to the store and pick up whatever they want to eat for dinner that day; they don’t think about where it came from or the resources it took to grow it,” said Pahlevanlu. “We want students to know that it takes a lot of work and resources to do.”

Pahlevanlu values knowing where her food comes from. “I’ve spent a lot of time researching animal agriculture along with general farming practices and they’re not sustainable,” said Pahlevanlu. “If you can grow a bit of your own food with whatever space you have, then you know exactly where it’s coming from. I think you just enjoy it a little bit more.”

Corporate farming isn’t sustainable for many reasons, a large one being the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers are commonly used in corporate farming to promote growth in crops, but it causes soil quality to rapidly deteriorate.

The garden club’s long-term goal is to eventually build a greenhouse. “We want to get to a point where we can use the compost that we have at the school to create soil for our garden,” said Pahlevanlu.

Although it is difficult to grow your own food, it can be rewarding. The garden club welcomes new people to join them Friday’s at lunch in room 109.