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Produced by Growing Local Productions, Katharina Stieffenhofer.
Film Length: 57:38
Release Date: March 13, 2010

The success of the Mel Johnson School Gardening Project has been recognized by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, the David Suzuki Foundation, and Manitoba Conservation.

SYNOPSIS “…AND THIS IS MY GARDEN”

Food insecurity, climate change, and fuel risk are serious threats to communities around the world. In the small town of Wabowden, Northern Manitoba, two school teachers, Eleanor Woitowicz and Bonnie Monias, are empowering their students with the knowledge, discipline and skills to grow their own food sustainably in backyard gardens.

"...And This Is My Garden" is an inspirational documentary film about the power of education to foster healthier lifestyles and to reconnect youth to the earth. The film follows the teachers and their students for a season of planting, harvesting, preserving, and ultimately celebrating the fruits of their labour at the Mel Johnson School annual harvest display and community feast.

Sustainable, edible gardening addresses issues of Community Food Security, Empowerment, Environmental Improvement & and Chronic Disease Prevention. Along the way, the students develop a sense of responsibility, pride and accomplishment, and engage their elders to work toward building healthier communities and towards growing a sustainable future. The film addresses the larger issues affected by this innovative school gardening project, which literally breaks new ground in education and has the potential to change the way we live.

The success of the Mel Johnson School Gardening Project has been recognized by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, the David Suzuki Foundation and Manitoba Conservation.

“…And This Is My Garden” won “Most Inspirational Film” Award at the EcoFocus Film Festival, Athens, Georgia

Press Release - March 4, 2010 - For immediate release:

“…And This Is My Garden” New Documentary Highlights Success of Award-Winning Sustainable School Gardening Project In Northern Manitoba

children stand beside garden with cameraman Winnipeg, Manitoba –
“… And This is My Garden”,
a new documentary from Winnipeg filmmaker Katharina Stieffenhofer, explores an innovative school gardening program that is breaking new ground in education and literally growing a healthier community in the process. The documentary, produced in association with Buffalo Gal Pictures, premiers with a free screening at the Gas Station Theatre on March 13, at 7:30 PM.

The film, set in the small northern community of Wabowden, Manitoba, follows schoolteacher Eleanor Woitowicz as she spearheads an education-based sustainable food movement called the Mel Johnson School Gardening Project. The initiative, based on the Frontier School Division’s science curriculum “Veggie Adventures” was introduced into the Mel Johnson School in 2006. Woitowicz teaches students how to take care of their own backyard vegetable gardens and reap the rewards of growing their own organic foods. Students develop valuable skills in sustainable food production, healthy lifestyle choices and food preparation, while fostering a sense of responsibility, pride and increased self-esteem.

Eleanor portraitWoitowicz was awarded a Manitoba Excellence in Sustainability Award for her educational efforts in 2009.

After attending a presentation from Woitowicz and fellow teacher Bonnie Monias at the University of Winnipeg’s Growing Local conference in February 2009, Stieffenhofer was so impressed with the gardening project she decided to spend the next year of her life producing the documentary. “I was so inspired by what they were accomplishing with the kids,” says Stieffenhofer. “Eleanor took such a leap of faith connecting her school with the outside community. I wanted to tell the world about the success of her program, to inspire others the way she inspired me.”

The success of the Mel Johnson School Gardening project has already caught the attention of many influential organizations including the David Suzuki Foundation, Manitoba Conservation, and even the United Nations, which highlighted it at a European Economic and Social Council sustainable development conference in 2009. Stieffenhofer hopes the film will help to spread the word about the success of the project and encourage school divisions throughout North America to include it as part of their core curriculum.

“This documentary is not just about one school’s gardening project,” says Stieffenhofer. “There are much larger issues at play here. It’s about breaking new ground in education, and it has the power to change the way we live.”

Children with Teachers and Producer Katharina Stieffenhofer