Preparing the urban agriculture activity and composting activity with Villa Maria students and C-Vert.
The Techno-Farm program is an initiative involving several large garden plots, a number of experimental agricultural installations and a school-wide composting program. At the heart of the Techno-Farm program are a series of ongoing student-led scientific experiments and engineering projects designed to highlight the potential and applicability of numerous elements of the high school curriculum.
Villa Maria’s Techno-Farm received funding from the NovaScience program (Component 2: Project support) for its 2018–2019 activites. We will be hosting visits, workshops and long-term projects for other schools. The NovaScience program is an initiative of the Ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation, providing support to organizations that promote greater understanding of science and technology.
The Villa Maria Techno-Farm Project: a winning project!
- Villa Maria Press Release
- 2019 DUX Grand Prix Awards Press Release
- 2019 DUX Grand Prix Awards Magazine (only available in French)
To make the most of our vast and varied grounds, a number of EcoLab projects investigating the suitability of different locations for various types of crops are currently being carried out. One of these locations is the concrete basin in front of the school. During the summer of 2018, 20 planters with different varieties of peppers were set up in the basin. The basin provided an environment high in reflected heat and light which, according to student research, would be especially beneficial to pepper plants. This hypothesis proved to be correct; the pepper plants thrived in the basin’s environment and produced many healthy specimens. Next year, the plan is to fill the basin completely with pepper planters.
Planting microgreens in a controlled environment is one of the EcoLab projects undertaken by Villa Maria students this year. Microgreens are green vegetables harvested after sprouting as shoots (usually within 5-10 days). As part of the experiment, students controlled the amount of light to which the microgreens were exposed. The accompanying photos show a sample that was kept in complete darkness for 3 days and then exposed to ambient light for 3 hours. Placing microgreens in complete darkness during the first phase of their growth is essential as it not only promotes shoot morphology but provides other benefits as well.
The goal of these experiments is to create a reliable procedure allowing students to grow their own microgreens in the classrooms within the shortest possible period of time. Given their high nutritional value, microgreens are a very healthy addition to sandwiches or salads.
Food compost made from fruit and vegetable waste and coffee grounds is collected from containers placed in locations around the school and added to our vermicompost bins. These bins contain worms that specialize in composting food. In order to collect the worm castings, students empty out the contents of the vermicompost bins and separate the worms from the soil. The worms are then returned to their bins to continue composting, and the soil is eventually used in the school garden and for growing seedlings.
Our two new beehives, developed and maintained by Alvéole, offer a dynamic, safe project for our students (the hive is located more than 80 meters from the school in a fully enclosed area). The project will help raise our students’ awareness of the essential role bees play in agriculture and food production. The addition of pollinator gardens greatly favours the work of bees.