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Rotary teams up with Pembroke school to support gardening

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West Pembroke School Garden (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Hamilton Rotary Club has partnered with a Pembroke school to introduce children to gardening and healthy living.

Makeila Ming, the head science teacher at West Pembroke Primary, came up with the idea of a gardening club for students and staff at the school.

She believes that the garden, first cultivated in February, will have countless benefits for people at the school and throughout the island.

Funding from the Hamilton Rotary Club allowed the school to buy vegetable and flower seedlings for the garden.

Makeila Ming (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The garden has spinach, cabbage, cucumbers, onions, Swiss chard, milkweeds and petunias.

Former Hamilton Rotary Club president Jeff Sousa, who has more than 50 years of gardening experience, visited the school and taught the students how to plant the crops.

He said: “[This initiative] has two things that I am passionate about — Hamilton Rotary and what Rotary does worldwide and teaching children, and people in general, how to garden.

“The children were so attentive and were behaving so well, it was an honour. I will be returning to the school on Friday [for another gardening session].

“Once they are keen on growing vegetables at school, I am hoping that they will go home and start a garden with their families — I would like to see everyone in the country with their own vegetable garden.”

In addition to teaching children how to garden, Ms Ming hopes the new club will show them the importance of giving and sharing, as well as how composting could save them money.

She said: “The main benefits I see from having this club are very positive. Planting and farming encourages physical activity, teamwork, communication, problem solving, responsibility and independence.

West Pembroke School Garden (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Vegetables growing at the West Pembroke School garden (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“One of the best rewards that students will reap from gardening will be the harvesting and eating of fresh produce.

“If we do not teach and expose students [to gardening] at this age, we will not see local farming in years to come.”

Ms Ming initially accepted about 20 students, aged 7 to 10, to be in the club, but plans to expand it next year.

She said: “I thought that students would give a little pushback, because they have to miss their lunch playtime, which they thoroughly enjoy, but they are excited to come out and participate.

“Moving on and expanding to next year, I would like to get both plots up and running, get the Primary One and Two students involved and I also want the students to host a farmers’ market for the parents to come and buy fresh produce.”

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Published March 11, 2023 at 7:50 am (Updated March 11, 2023 at 7:50 am)

Rotary teams up with Pembroke school to support gardening

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