The Tawgi Secondary School is helping out their community with interesting and meaningful projects. Students from the school have taken on the task of building garden boxes for the Agapè Centre food bank and soup kitchen. They are building garden boxes for the centre from wood from pallets. In this photo some of the students pose beside a few of their finished garden boxes. Left to right are: Owen Mekker, Aaron Paul, Andrew Edwards and Tristan Colette. Courtesy Photo

AVONMORE – The Tawgi Secondary School in Avonmore has some very clever and helpful ideas when it come to helping their community and learning skills at the same time.

The Agapè Centre food bank and soup kitchen has been working in the community since 1971 helping to ensure that no one should ever have to go hungry.

With that idea in mind the Agapè Centre has partnered with Tawgi to provide garden boxes for their clients to grow fresh vegetables.

The school’s construction shop class lead by teacher Jamie Poulin has been making wooden garden boxes this spring for backyard gardeners or those without the space for a large garden to have a chance to enjoy some fresh homegrown vegetables they would otherwise miss out on.

The project has been so successful the Agapè Centre is considering making the project available to the whole Avonmore community and make a great fundraising event out of it.

Tawgi teacher Jamie Poulin is leading the way with his construction class.

“We are taking pallets apart to make garden boxes. “Agapè in Cornwall contacted me to ask if we were willing to make some garden boxes for them. They would provide the wood,” he said.

The students are enjoying the work.

They get to work with a mitre saw and a drill and some counter sink bits to put the garden boxes together.

Poulin said his students drawn from his Grade 9 and senior class do not have a great deal of fun taking all of the pallets apart but they certainly enjoy building the garden boxes from the reclaimed wood.

He said, “So far we have made about 20 but by the end of next week we should have another 20 completed. They are 2 feet by 4 feet and 10 to 12 inches high

Basically whatever wood we could get out of the pallets determined how big they are.”

The demand for the garden boxes has grown from an expected 50 to 175.

Poulin said if they can get the materials donated for the project next year they would certainly want to do it.

Lisa Duprau the executive director of the Agapè Centre is happy with the response of the project.

“It is for people who use our services here at the centre.”

She explained, “If they express interest they are getting a box, the soil seed and plants. Everyone had to make sure they had space in their yard or approval from their landlord to make sure they would have enough space.”

The program has caught the attention of residents in the area.

“We were anticipating maybe about 50 but we are up to 175,” she said.

The goal of the program is to promote self-efficiency with clients, “and have some healthy options in their diet and ultimately save on grocery bills.”

The centre partnered with Cornerstone Organics in Long Sault and they are providing some plants and seeds.

Each garden box includes the soil needed for the plants and seed for vegetables such as tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. At the beginning of the project the centre was getting pallets from the city of Cornwall, but that supply soon began to dwindle.

“We got pallets from the city and when we ran out of pallets we posted on Facebook if anyone had any extra, and then we were inundated with offers of pallets. It was absolutely wonderful,” said Duprau.

The success of the project first with the centre’s clients and from the general public has Duprau thinking about what to do next year.

“We may open it up to the community next year because we have had such a positive response from people in the community wanting to purchase one,” she said.

Agapè Centre Clients would come first, but when that commitment has been met the public could get a box.

“Next year we may open it up to the community as a fundraiser,” said Duprau.