How does your garden grow?

What started as a hobby has ‘grown’ into something much larger for those involved with the Pictou County Continuous Learning Association.

It’s a garden, or more specifically, a community garden, that started because two of PiCCoLA’s instructors are avid gardeners.

Deanna Ferguson, program manager and part-time instructor at PiCCoLA, explains that both she and Carollynne Nemecek, executive director, love to garden and wanted to share their passion with their students.

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“It started several years ago when I was a part-time instructor here.”

Ferguson said the project began, like most do, on a smaller scale. After seeds were acquired, they were planted and then tended to throughout the week and even into the weekend. The students invested a great deal of time and attention to the tender young shoots, nurturing them along the way to maturity.

Even though the project is now carried out on a larger scale, it has the same amount of love and attention devoted to it.

“We looked at it as a hands-on opportunity for learning. We also do the usual courses like English and math, but this just presented an additional opportunity.”

They applied for and received funding to start the hydroponics project from a Peter Gzowski Grant through Literacy Nova Scotia. This enabled them to purchase the seeds, lights, stands, pots, timers, soil and all of the items necessary for them to grow a garden indoors. The growing kits were purchased at Lee Valley and contain everything needed for the project.

“They really take pride in the project,” beamed Ferguson. “And through it they are learning about nutrition and working together as well as learning about herbs and medicinal herbs.”

Already growing in the PiCCoLA garden is a variety of herbs like parsley, summer savory and dill as well as tomatoes, mesclun and other salad veggies. When the produce and herbs are fully grown, each of the students will be able to take home a salad bowl to enjoy, knowing they help nurture it to maturity from the tiniest of seeds.

“They will be able to harvest the garden all summer long and into the fall. And the students look forward to that.”

What’s next

PiCCoLA’s next project involves recycling unused cellphones.

“One of our goals is taking away as many barriers to employment as possible,” said Ferguson. Without a phone, many of PiCCoLA’s students are unable to apply for a job.

Stay tuned for more on that project …


From the left, Charlotte MacLeod, Barbara Wood and Eva Stewart are all smiles as they display the variety of seeds Pictou County Continuous Learning Association has planted in their community garden. (Jardine photo)

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Jackie Jardine
Jackie is a Pictou County native and proud graduate of St. Francis Xavier University. She is a writer, editor and fledgling home cook. She has been in the newspaper business for almost three decades and jokes that she started when she was in her teens! She enjoys traveling, socializing and volunteering in her community.