Nelson McIntyre Collegiate Community Garden
Nelson McIntyre Collegiate is a small high school in the heart of central Winnipeg and greenspace in the area is at a premium. It serves 350 high school students, 150 junior high practical arts students, and the communities of Norwood Flats, St. Boniface, and Glenwood. The High School hosts typical events year-round, but also “community building” events. These include culturally relevant Indigenous Ceremonies, Fall Feasts, and Spring Re-building events, to name a few. The school serves a diverse neighbourhood including many families who live in poverty and more than 35% who identify as Indigenous. The community is multi-cultural, more than 60% identify as BIPOC. One of the gifts of the school community is their ability to respect and promote diversity, to learn to get to know each other, and each other’s stories. The community works hard to create this culture, and now would like to improve the spaces in which they can do this work.
Currently, the school has a community garden, but they need to move it to accommodate the newly developed Indigenous Learning Classroom. This year, the school will also be hosting a Fall Feast and plans to use produce from the gardens and, eventually, fruit from the orchards This Feast will bring together families in all the surrounding communities to celebrate the ability to reconnect in person after the pandemic, to celebrate through a multi-cultural lens, to welcome back alumni, and to greet new families. The school also regularly host smaller events in the garden space. For example, Indigenous Ceremonies and teachings for groups of 25 or so people is a more common occurrence. Native plants and medicines, along with orchard trees and shrubs, are part of the landscape. The community gardens are part of these gatherings, as they form part of the land-based learning that goes with them.
Nelson McIntyre Collegiate is looking to rejuvenate the community garden and gathering space, this includes raised garden beds, trees, a cistern for irrigation, and compost, as well as outdoor seating to promote community gathering.
Their Story Now
“Our hope is that we will have the garden and the orchard areas will be landscaped mid-October 2022., plus the students will be building the new garden boxes and seating this school year. Our plan is to have the area ‘ready to go’ by spring 2023.” – Charlene Smallwood, community member and former principal of Nelson MacIntyre Collegiate.