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A new planting project is bringing together students and seniors in southeast Calgary, and both groups say it’s planting the seeds of good things far beyond the garden. Students in the horticultural class at Jack James High School make weekly visits to Clifton Manor Care Home, lending a hand as residents prepare to put in plants outside the building.
“I like teaming up with Lanny here,” Grade 10 student Tristan Norris said. “It’s tough for him, because his hands might not work, so I like coming and picking the plants to see if he likes them.”
Ferne O’Neill enjoys springing into the planting season with her regular partner, Grade 12 student Alyssa Greiner.
“I think it’s wonderful!” O’Neill said.
The students can always count on getting some useful tips from the veteran gardeners at the care home.
“I love sitting down to tell them about how my day was,” Greiner said. “I love learning about their past, how it used to be when they were my age.”
The seniors’ stories help the students get some perspective on their current gardening challenges.
“We had a huge garden back home (in Hungary),” Clifton Manor resident Bela Bokor said. “Hand-dug, hand-raked, everything was done by hand. We had no machines.”
And for both the younger and older gardeners, some time-hounoured methods don’t change much at all.
“Do you know the best way to pull a plant out?” O’Neill asked the students. “You squish it from the bottom.”
“It’s really cool ’cause you come here and you talk with a lot of different people, you have a lot of different conversations that you normally wouldn’t have,” Grade 11 student Riley King said.
“You feel good, like you’re doing something good for them and us. It’s a learning experience for me. It’s a learning experience for them.”