A teacher's gardening project

She listens to the flowers grow
Amidst the noise of the engines

With rainwater and the scents of incense
She travels from time to time

Francis Cabrel

Any gardener will tell you that there is nothing more therapeutic than digging your hands in the dirt and cultivating beauty. Personally, I find it a bit messy, but that’s not why I decided to buy a hydroponic garden two years ago.


In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, I found myself confined within four walls with students who had enrolled in an environmental education course. Activities were not allowed. Lots of closed spaces. Kids with a lot of energy who didn’t think it was much fun to be in a bubble classroom. Then, an ad appeared in my Facebook feed as if by magic. Finally, I had the perfect solution for the kids to take their minds off during breaks, instead of hanging out on social media for too long or doing bad tricks: they were going to garden indoors!


There was no need to convince anyone; they all volunteered! From the very first few days, the seeds cooperated. Everything sprouted! After turning on the garden, the students got to see how quickly the lettuce and basil grow. It is not uncommon for me to see them huddled around the garden before class, talking about what they would like to grow and how they want to eat the vegetables.


I quickly incorporated horticultural research into my elective classes, and we were able to experiment with four successions during that year. Nasturtiums, lavender and chamomile bloomed, and a few tomato plants were sold to teachers.


This year, my kids are in Grade 10. The elective class is gone (but will return for the 2023-2024 school year), but the garden is still growing thanks to their good care. They meet informally during lunchtime to maintain the plants, fill the tank, take pictures, and document their trials.


Every new student who walks into my classroom is impressed that a windowless room can hold so much life within its walls. They ask questions and comment on how beautiful they think it is.


The project has led to some great collaborations. Our next herb production will be shared between the pet therapy guinea pigs and the cafe cooks who serve meals to the school staff one lunch per week.


In the spring, our shoots will be planted in the school garden located outside.


Everyone is brimming with new ideas and our school is making progress as we embark on the road to sustainability.


The only thing that will stop my kids is that they will graduate from high school in June 2024!

Julie Coutu 
Teacher at Paul Arseneau High School

Projet de jardin intérieur - Les élèves cuisinent leur récolte
Apprendre avec le jardinage à l'école

A Vireo hydroponic garden project at your school


You want to start an educative garden project like Julie Coutu? A garden project at your school creates a project-based learning context that is inclusive, collaborative and that promotes student wellness. Start by booking a meeting with a Vireo advisor!