Investing in Children Blog

The Urban Garden Project: A First-of-its-Kind Outdoor Learning Space

On Friday June 19, 2015, Jean Paul II Catholic Secondary School officially opened their first-of-its-kind outdoor learning space, dubbed The Urban Garden Project.

The unique classroom features the latest technology in sustainable design and water conservation. It has areas for food production and horticultural education, where students will plant annuals, vegetables and herbs in raised beds that are wheelchair accessible and easy to maintain. The space will provide information and hands-on skills to encourage students to grow their own vegetables.

Gardening and preparing food is fun and really hands-on… much better than just having to sit and listen!
— Student at Jean Paul II Catholic Secondary School

During the school year, the food grown in The Urban Garden Project will be used in the Jean Paul II's breakfast program. The program, partially funded and supported by the Ontario Student Nutrition Program London/Middlesex, will provide a healthy breakfast three days per week to approximately 250 students at Jean Paul II.

During the summer months, London InterCommunity Health Centre will tend to the gardens and use the produce in their programs.

Jean Paul Urban Garden 05
Jean Paul Urbal Garden 02

The outdoor classroom also features permeable pavers, a sensory garden irrigated from an underground rainwater collection system, drip irrigation, a compost area and a stepping stone pathway that wanders through the environmentally sustainable garden.

The Urban Garden Project was funded by a $50,000 Healthy Eating Grant from the Ministry of Education, successfully obtained by a group of John Paul II students through the leadership of their Vice Principal, teachers and staff.

Cindy Machado, Investing in Children Community Partner Coordinator & OSNP London/Middlesex Chair

Cindy Machado, Investing in Children Community Partner Coordinator & OSNP London/Middlesex Chair

Jean Paul Urban Garden 04

At the ribbon cutting, garden contributors, supporters and school officials presented on the project, including the progressive irrigation system and permeable paving. City of London Mayor Matt Brown and City Councillor Mo Salih also joined the celebration, showing their support for The Urban Garden Project.

Local artist Ted Hayes, known for his tree trunk carving seen across the city, donated a wood sculpture to The Urban Garden Project and provided a demonstration of his talents.

Permacon, one of the Landscape Ontario members who worked on the project, capped off the event by hosting a barbecue for all involved.

City of London Mayor Matt Brown (Right) with City Councillor Mo Salih (Left)

City of London Mayor Matt Brown (Right) with City Councillor Mo Salih (Left)

The Urban Garden Project was made possible by contributions and volunteer efforts from John Paul II Catholic Secondary School, London Middlesex Master Gardeners and Landscape Ontario members Tydan Landscape Design, Permacon, Grand River Natural Stone, Arroc Aggregates, Aquascape, Mackenzie Irrigation, Bobcat of London, Connon Nurseries/NVK Holdings and D & J Paton Landscape Supplies.


About Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association

Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association is one of the most vibrant associations of its kind, comprised of over 2,000 members, ten sector groups and nine local chapters. Its trade mission is to promote the horticulture industry in Ontario, and its public mission is to promote the joys and benefits of green spaces. Learn more about the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association and Green for Life here.

About the Ontario Student Nutrition Program London/Middlesex

The Ontario Student Nutrition Program (OSNP) provides funding and a network of support to help schools across the province implement a healthy snack, breakfast or meal program for students in their community. OSNP London/Middlesex is the local contact group for student nutrition programs in London and Middlesex County. Learn more about OSNP London/Middlesex here.