Villanova students grow their knowledge with grocery chain grant

By Joel Charron

Villanova Secondary School students are not only learning about agriculture but learning to give back as well.

Thanks to a $1,000 grant from Metro grocery store chain, roughly 60 students Andy Paling’s green industry class has created two new growing areas.

One area is a community vegetable garden, which has been planted on a ¼ acre on the school’s east side, the other is a small grape growing area on the west side of Villanova’s property.

The vegetable garden will grow fresh vegetables during the summer and will be harvested when the students make their return in September. Paling, along with a small group of student will tend to the garden occasionally during the summer to weed and make sure the plans are watered.

Once the harvest is complete, the vegetables will be donated to the Amherstburg Food & Fellowship Mission.

Paling said if all goes theyll during the summer we’ll expand the garden.

“It’s certainly a worthy cause,” said Paling. “It’s a chance for the kids to do something for the community.”

Amherstburg Food & Fellowship president Tim McAllister said he was surprised when he got the call that Villanova was intending to give the Mission

Jackie Reed, Brandi Parent, Jake Santia and Adam Ducharme stand amongst the the grape vine the students will be using to learn about the agricultural and technological aspects of grape growing.

the vegetables.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” said McAllister.

McAllister said not only will he use the fresh vegetables in the kitchen but he will also send some of them home with some of his clientele.

“We always try to improve what we give our clientele,” he said.

The grape growing area will provide students a chance to learn not only from an agricultural aspect but from a technological aspect as well.

Drip lines and timers were run from the school’s greenhouse to the two rows of grapes.

“The whole idea is to introduce kids to water-wise technologies and grow things with minimal waste,” said Paling.

Paling mentioned that no pesticides will be used, instead predatory bugs such as ladybugs and praying mantises will be introduced to counter act other bugs that would cause damage to the grapes.

Netting will also be installed to thwart off birds.

Paling stated that the students will not produce wine but will be teaching them the technology to do so.

Paling hopes that with 32 wineries in the area, he hopes to teach the kids about the industry so they may lock down a summer job or perhaps think about a career in the green industry.

Bob Comber, store manager of the Metro location at Huron Line and Tecumseh Road in Windsor, said Metro began the program to benefit environmental programs in school across Ontario.

It’s great to see the kids get involved,” said Comber. “It’s not just giving money, it’s getting people involved.”

Grade 10 student Jake Santia, who worked on the vegetables said he liked working outside with his hands and mentioned that he got a good feeling knowing that something he did will help someone less fortunate.

“Not all food banks have nutritious food like this,” said Santia. “It gives you a warming feeling knowing something I did may make someone’s day a little better.”

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