The students and staff of Peonan Point School have been fundraising for the last two years to build a greenhouse for the families who reside on the Point. The greenhouse is intended to operate all year round producing fresh foods for the community members and offer a diversity of learning opportunities to the local students. There are currently 8 students at the school. Fundraising efforts were quite labor intensive and included: making crafts to sell, baking for bake sales, and cleaning the local dump-site each spring. Parents, family and the craft sale attendees in nearby Ashern have generously supported the students. After the grant funds were applied to the balance due, they found the students had raised enough funds to make up the difference required.
As this greenhouse was meant to fill a gap in the community’s accessibility to fresh produce, it needed to be a structure that would work in Manitoba winters. After considerable research and many nay-sayers, they settled on working with a company called Growing Technologies. Located in Neepawa, Growing Technologies helped to determine the size and design of the greenhouse. The structure was tested through two Manitoba winters with users successfully growing produce and flowers.
They had a few setbacks in the timing of the project, but kept pushing forward. The greenhouse was erected on a miserable, cold day in the fall of 2016 which was later than planned. Then the rain came and did not stop for about six weeks. That weather made travel in and out of the Point difficult at best. This pushed back the electrician’s schedule, but hydro was finally hooked up in late October. The next challenge was getting the topsoil delivered. Many suppliers could not get to their stockpiles because of the wet, unfrozen ground. The grade 11 student who was taking a horticulture course tracked down a supplier in Hilbre and soil was delivered in early December. Everything was finally in place except the water.
The greenhouse has made a number of learning opportunities possible. For the first time at Peonan Point School, senior year students are able to take optional horticulture courses for high school credits. This opportunity is important, as most of the students have to take their high school courses by telephone or from the teacher in a tiny one room school. This has meant it has been difficult for students to get enough optional credits at the grade 11 and 12 levels. Currently a grade 11 student from the community is enrolled in two horticulture courses: greenhouse and landscaping. He monitors the temperature inside the greenhouse (in our 40 below weather) to determine what it should be set at. He has also searched out soil prices, researched plants that grow well in cooler temperatures, and cares for the plants that were salvaged from summer gardens. He is in the process of drawing up plans for a landscaped area to the south of the greenhouse. The creation of the raised beds and walkways have also put our Grade 11 students’ woodworking skills to use.
To find out more about the School Greenhouse please read here.
To find out more about other community partners please read here.