Students work to beautify downtown PA while learning about sustainability

A horticulture student from St. Mary High School plants seedlings to help beautify the city’s downtown on June 6, 2023. -- Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald

High school students are adding some colour to Prince Albert’s downtown.

Students from a horticulture class at St. Mary High School planted a variety of seedlings, including sunflowers, petunias and tomatoes, in planters along Central Avenue.

The initiative began with Rhonda Trusty, the executive director of the Downtown Business Improvement District. After hearing about the horticulture class from a former teacher, she reached out to the school to partner up.

“The goal is just to try to give the students a different experience,” said Trusty.

“We thought we’d use this as an opportunity to get more young people in the downtown.”

Last year, Trusty said she had about five planters, but reached out to the city for more this summer in an effort to beautify the area.

“I wanted to kind of flood the downtown with flowers. They just add a level of charm and prettiness.”

This is Grade 11 student Mykaela Emery’s second time taking horticulture as an elective. She said she recommends it to future students to learn about growing your own food.

“You can plant your own stuff when you’re older, save more money with your vegetables. I learned how to germinate and transplant different plants,” said Emery.

“Its also a fun class to take.”

For Regan Pidperyhora, who’s in Grade 12, adding some greenery makes any public space more enjoyable.

“It’s a good thing because it brightens up downtown a little bit more, makes the city more alive.”

Their teacher, Deana Barrett, said the class goes beyond planting flowers. It teaches youth that they don’t need to rely on grocery stores for produce in the summer.

“It’s a life skill. I like to teach them that you can grow your own vegetables, even if you’re living in an apartment,” she said.

“You don’t have to have a garden. You can still be sustainable.”

The students grew all of the plants from seed. They also gifted some to Funky Fresh Bistro owner Melanie Quintal after her planters were stolen overnight on Monday.

Later this week, another class will be painting on windows at a variety of locations on Central.

Trusty said the both the window painting and flower painting will draw a lot of attention at the upcoming Street Fair on June 17.