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Little Green Thumbs growing across Canada


September 28, 2012
By Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery

Sept. 28, 2012, Saskatoon — The number of indoor gardening projects is quickly growing in elementary classrooms across Canada thanks to Saskatchewan’s Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) and its new partner, Agrium.

Little Green Thumbs is an indoor gardening program for elementary students where participating schools are provided with a kit to grow a year-round fruits and vegetable garden in the classroom.

AITC recently signed an agreement with Agrium to expand the Little Green Thumbs program across North America.

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“The support from Agrium is really fundamental in Little Green Thumbs growing,” said Sara Shymko, AITC’s executive director in Saskatoon. “The most immediate benefit I see is the opportunity to expand the program so that it’s replicable in other new regions and jurisdictions.”

The Little Green Thumbs program started in four Saskatchewan schools in 2007, when AITC partnered with the First Nations Agricultural Council of Saskatchewan.  Today, Little Green Thumbs is in 65 Saskatchewan schools, 48 schools in Alberta, 13 schools in Manitoba, and for the first time this year, five schools in Newfoundland.  With the support from Agrium and other community sponsors, these programs are able to expand and reach more students every year.

“Little Green Thumbs is an excellent hands-on education program. We recognize its value to both students and teachers as a valuable teaching tool, but as well, we share the same vision for expanding it into all parts of Canada and eventually into the United States,” said Doug Beever, senior director of sustainability and stakeholder relations for Agrium.

The goal of the program is to help young people value their health, the environment and their community through actively participating in classroom gardening.

 “The support Agrium is giving us, in terms of funding our staff, program and communication, allows us to build a quality program. The essence of the program won’t change. What changes is the support of the resource development for the program, our ability to generate more funds and market the value of this transformational educational tool to teachers and educators,” said Shymko. “The ‘wow’ factor that happens in this program is pretty amazing. The garden doesn’t necessarily produce wonderful abundant fruit every year, but it’s always, always a learning experience and so the teamwork and cooperation that develops year after year really does have a fundamental impact on the students.”

For the first time, AITC is opening up the Little Green Thumbs workshop to interested teachers all across the province. The School Garden Conference will be held on Sept. 29 at Confederation Park Community School in Saskatoon. For a detailed agenda, visit www.aitc.sk.ca.


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