Grade 5 Exhibition Project - Growing a Garden of Happiness
Ella Feddersen



In the final year of the PYP IB Program (Grade 5 at Southridge), students participate in a culminating project know as the Exhibition. For Exhibition, students are required to engage in a collaborative transdisciplinary inquiry process that involves them identifying, investigating, and offering solutions to real-life issues or problems. In June 2020, our Grade 5 students (now in Grade 6) were learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of seeing the virus as a roadblock, some students used it to inspire their final projects! Here's an example of a student who took action to help her family and community stay happy and connected. 

The reason I chose “gardening can enhance your overall happiness” as my topic for my Grade 5 Exhibition project is because I have been gardening for as long as I can remember, and I have been an active member of a community garden. Gardening has provided me with the opportunity to connect with nature and my family, while building my self-esteem.

During the time of isolation, I decided to start my garden early with germination stations. Through this process I enjoyed waking up daily to check on my seeds, nurture them, see them first break ground, and watch them grow their first leaf. This experience brought me great joy and built further connection with my family and extended family by sharing pictures of our gardens, comparing each other’s seedlings growth, and sharing gardening tips and stories.

Gardening has given me joy and enhanced my life especially during the pandemic. I thought it would be great to share the magic of gardening with others by researching the physical and mental benefits of gardening and the benefits gardening has in relationships.

My Research

Through my research, I learned that gardening can improve mental health and well-being whether it’s working in the soil, inhaling the aromas of the plants or just being out in nature. Many studies showed improved self-esteem, memory, attention span, grades, happiness, positive moods, social behaviour, and decreased anxiety and depression. 

There are also many physical benefits to gardening. When you garden you put your muscles to work when you are digging, raking, and lifting plants. Gardening will help you eat fresh and nutritious food. You will get vitamin D from being outside in the sun and connecting with nature leading to better overall physical health.

Gardening is also a very good way to build relationships with your family as doing activities together creates memories and strengthens relationships. Gardening can help your family learn to set goals together. 

Gardening can teach families to slow down, practice mindfulness, develop new skills, build pride and improve self-esteem. Gardens can teach the value of where food comes from and put nutritious food on the table. 

My Action!
It is My Wish to Spark the Joy of Gardening!
My action is important to take anytime and especially right now during COVID-19 because everyone could use a little bit of joy. It is also important because gardening can improve sleep patterns, lower stress, and can be more relaxing than a book! Gardening can inspire new beginning and hope for tomorrow. It is my hope that through this project I can spark the joy of gardening so many people - young and old can experience the magic of gardening!

Sunflower Sunshine Kits 
I made 250 Sunshine Kits to give to children, youth, families, and seniors to spread a little sunshine. It’s my wish that all children can experience the joys of gardening!

On a walk in Dunsmuir Garden, I saw a poster to apply for a neighbourhood grant, called the Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grant. I filled out the application online as I thought this would be a perfect way to fund my project. After a couple emails and a telephone interview I was awarded $500 to make my kits.

My youth sunshine kits included: fiber pot, organic soil, sunflower seeds, grow instructions, and Sunshine postcard.

Senior and women's sunshine kits included: clay pot, organic soil, marigold seeds, grow instructions, and Sunshine postcard. The first batch went to South Surrey students through a school lunch program!

Ella's Project Continues!
Ella ended up making 330 kits in total and is currently working on her second grant approval to make 160 handmade cards and mason jar bouquets for the residents at a local seniors home! 

Contributed by Ella F, Grade 6
Originally published in Spirit Magazine - Fall 2020