Diversifying Our School Grounds
Our vision for the project stemmed from a project that the students did in class related to biodiversity. They spent time exploring what biodiversity meant and its importance. As a result, we looked at the space that we had at the school and started to discuss a plan to increase the biodiversity of our school grounds. Numerous projects have taken place in the past including the planting of trees for shade, the development of a large amphitheatre garden space (currently under renovation by our class), and a butterfly garden. We looked at what was planted in the garden beds and decided that we could make a difference in our community and our ecosystem by redesigning them to increase the biodiversity of our school yard.
The action project that we undertook with the funding received from Learning for a Sustainable Future was dedicated to two garden spaces: a raised bed in front of our gymnasium and a bed in front of our school. This work was a small part of our annual goal, with the redevelopment of our amphitheatre space being another focus. The students also fundraised close to an additional $2000 to purchase plant material to supplement our grant and to purchase materials for our other project including circular stone benching for an outdoor classroom. To start this project, we asked a local landscape professional and parent, Darlene Hackson from Hackstone Landscapes to come and give us some guidance on what plant material to choose that would perform multiple functions: 1) be native or be non-native but not invasive; 2) attract bees, butterflies, and various bird species; 3) be relatively easy to maintain and relatively drought tolerant. The students did some research on what types of plant material to use and the decision was made. Clearview Nurseries in Stayner, ON supplied the plant material. Another aspect of our project was creating physical habitat for birds and bats. One of our students’ grandfathers generously constructed and donated a bat house for us to install. The students also researched native bird species and developed plans to construct nesting boxes to go in our amphitheatre area. In all we installed one bat house and built and installed 12 nesting boxes. Before the plant material arrived, we prepared both beds for planting by removing some of the plant material present for reuse and weeding and tilling both beds. The plant material was planted, and then a generous layer of mulch was applied over top to preserve moisture. We have continued to weed, water, and apply more mulch as necessary to ensure the success of the project. We are very eager to spot new species in our yard as a sign that the biodiversity of our local area is improving. We would like to thank our community for their support in making this project a success!