The signs of spring are back at the FCJ Centre as the familiar red and pink blooms of the FCJ Centre Geraniums have made their way home to the gardens of the FCJ Centre.
Starting in 2015, Sr. Madeleine Gregg, FCJ, began to dig up the annual plants to bring inside the FCJ Centre to keep them alive for the following planting year. Over the next few years, she endeavoured to grow the number of plants while caring for them both inside and out. During that time, she also split them, in time more than triple the number of plants she started with.
In 2019, Sr. Madeleine realized she would not have enough space to house all of the geraniums in the FCJ Centre, and the Fostering Program was born when she asked supporters of the Centre to take some of the plants home to care for them over the winter. But with more plants than the volunteers, Sr. Madeleine asked some CCSD Principals she knew if their schools would be interested in participating in the program, to which they wholeheartedly agreed to help.
According to Sr. Madeleine, “It was a win-win solution: the schools got the benefit of cheerful, air-cleaning plants for the classrooms during the school year, and the Centre got the plants for the summer flower beds!”
Through the past 2-years of COVID, approximately 140 geraniums were cared for by three different CCSD Schools during the winter - St. Martin de Porres, Our Lady of the Evergreens, and St. Monica. Sr. Madeleine added that other schools are welcome to partner with the FCJ Centre as the project is especially good for Grade 4 students, so long as there are donations of pots and soil from various parishes.
On May 30, Grade 4 and 5 students from Our Lady of the Evergreens travelled to the FCJ Centre to work with staff and volunteers of the Centre to carefully plant their floral wards back to their summer home.
According to teacher Karen Hanson, the students used the plants in all of their areas of study ranging from writing prayers, poems and stories about the geraniums for Language Arts and Religion to studying plant life in Science.
The students became attached to their winter wards, getting to know them by look. They also took time to give each of the plants a name.
One student said she named her plant Spice, which she said had a bit of a rocky winter healthwise. Twice Spice was to be nursed back to health from the brink of uncertain plant demise, thanks to some help from staff at the school. She also added it was nice to see Spice and the other plants, cared for by her classmates, planted at the FCJ Centre front entrance for everyone to see.
This was the first time the students from Our Lady of the Evergreens were tasked to keeping them alive and healthy. In 2020, it was the staff of the school who tended to the geraniums, keeping them healthy for their yearly return for all to enjoy at the FCJ Centre.