Congratulations to the Mecatina School students, teachers, and the village of La Tabatière in the Littoral School Board for persevering with their goal to win the OSEntreprendre contest. The student project, GrEau, which is a hydroponic green vegetable growing operation, was a 2016 grand prize winner in OSEntreprendre, formerly known as the Québec Entrepreneurship Contest.
In November 2013 the students at Mecatina School were motivated to win the Québec Entrepreneurship Contest and start planning their hydroponic green vegetable growing project. Operations began in March 2014, in time to enter the contest.
GrEau and the Mecatina School community were the topics of a 2014 feature article in The GOAL Post, entitled: It takes a dream to feed a village. That article is prominent on the GrEau website, along with media coverage by the CBC, Radio-Canada, Community Works Journal, and local print media. In August 2016, the CLD agent responsible for the agro project brought in La Semaine Verte (Ici Radio-Canada) to interview workers and students.
Why so much coverage for a school project in a tiny remote village? Because GrEau quickly flourished and diversified its product line to include other green vegetables, herbs, and pesto that it sold locally in a place where fresh food is difficult to acquire and expensive to buy.
Perseverance pays off: $2,500 for equipment upgrades
Two years later, GrEau achieved its initial goal by winning a $2000 grand prize in the Secondary Cycle Two student category of the OSEntreprendre contest.
The bilingual entrepreneurship contest has been running since 1997, and in the past 19 years, only three projects submitted by English schools have been grand prize winners. Bravo Mecatina School!
The $2000 prize money was added to the $500 prize that the project won at the regional level, which will all go toward upgrading the GrEau equipment.
When Principal Vincent Joncas began his tenure at Mecatina School last year, he was amazed by the success of this venture and also by how the community has got involved and followed the students’ lead. Vincent explains that the local fish plant was closed five years ago. Encouraged by MAPAQ (Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec), provincial partners, and local promoters, former plant workers began to work on agricultural initiatives as a means of economic diversification. “They started from scratch,” says Vincent, “and it is amazing what the adults have been able to produce in the agro field in just three years.”
Vincent thought when he started last year, “it’s impossible that this project would stop here.” He pushed it forward, and it went easily to the provincial level of the OSEntreprendre contest. “The original GrEau team was very impressed with how the project took off,” he says, “and the whole village is really proud of what the community as a whole has achieved.”
The students and the community teach, and learn from, each other.
This spring, Vincent, along with the CLC Coordinator, Faye Collier, brought together a team of Elementary Cycle Three students, secondary students, and some parents to continue the project. This mix of students and the community will ensure the project’s sustainability; as the older students graduate, there will be others in place to take on leadership roles. He is hoping to bring the GrEau group together with the adult group so that they can teach, and learn from, each other.
Right now the GrEau students are getting the training required by MAPAQ in order to sell their pesto product on the external market. Meanwhile, one of the students has been designated to do updates to the GrEau website.
Excelling in the Four Ps of marketing and the Four Ps
of the Entrepreneurship course.
GrEau is on a winning streak, excelling in the Four Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. But it is also a stellar example of the Four Ps of the Entrepreneurship course: Profile, Plan, Proceed, and Ponder. In addition, work on this project covers aspects of GOAL’s “Academic and Career Guidance Content” (ACGC), including “Knowledge of the World of Work: legal and regulatory frameworks.” Indeed, projects like GrEau provide excellent opportunities to grow student engagement and bring curriculum to life.