A barren patch of land on Holland College’s Prince of Wales Campus has been turned into an organic garden and plein-air classroom where students and staff can rediscover the therapeutic benefits of nature and take applied learning to a whole new level.
The Raymond Loo Memorial Garden is named after one of the most prominent organic farmers in Prince Edward Island. For more than 10 years, Mr. Loo welcomed students from Holland College’s Transitions program – a career exploration program for high school students – to his farm to learn more about organic farming. When Mr. Loo died of cancer two years ago, Transitions staff wanted to pay tribute to his work and vision for P.E.I. youth by providing students with an outdoor classroom where they could learn about sustainability firsthand by designing, building, planting, maintaining and harvesting an on-campus organic garden.
“Our overall goal is to remember Raymond by carrying on what he started – encouraging students to think about where their food comes from, getting them out in nature and learning what it takes to build and maintain a garden,” said Joan Diamond, Transitions coordinator for the college. “The students’ participation in these activities confirmed our hunch that students really do enjoy learning in nature, despite the fact that they don’t often get the opportunity. Even the students who started out thinking it was ‘lame’, said that they had learned a lot and felt a real sense of contributing in a meaningful way to the community.”
As the project evolved over the spring and summer months, the Transitions team realized that the garden was having a noticeable effect on the campus community as a whole. Students and staff began eating their lunches there, and the college’s youngest students, the children in the college’s Early Learning Centre, began visiting it, too.
Read more about the memorial garden here.