Our vision for Canada here at GCVI over the last year have begun to not only engage students in educational lessons on how to create a more sustainable living, but also providing hands-on experience for students to learn how to create their own sustainable future in the process. With less than 2% of our population looking at the Agriculture industry as a viable career path, and the average age of Canadian Farmers being 52, we see education as a necessary tool to inspire future generations. We are at a critical point in time with external factors (political, economic, social, environmental) hindering the progression of self-sustaining food systems. Our aim is to try and tackle food insecurity and material waste, one step at a time with our class.
Here at GCVI, Green Industries looks to influence our community and students in a positive way, partnering with groups like Fusion, and Guelph Horticultural Society to foster students who are industry Leaders. This year, Green Industries has begun to teach sustainable living by reconnecting the urban populations with the better understanding of sustainable living, and how to become more sustainable in the future throughout everyday life. Green Industries has begun work on numerous, and varying, projects throughout the year that engages students to not only help the community, but also to engage students in hands-on learning. The students always have opportunities to take learning into their own hands as they choose their own project, learning work ethic and initiative.
Our projects this year included:
-A fully student run, and designed, Aquaponics system with fish and Vertical Agriculture Garden; Which not only taught students the necessary skills in how to build their own fully self-sustainable Aquaponics system, but also taught the students about issues surrounding food management, sustainable living, and a recirculating ecosystem. The students solely harvested produce, delivering the harvested produce to the Cafeteria, and classes like Food and Nutrition or other culinary classes.
-The redesignment and building of a new soil-based Community Garden, giving the community a chance to part-take in sustainable living by growing their own organic food. This Garden was important in teaching students how to reuse thrown away materials, such as skids, in a new innovative way. The Community Garden also has students maintaining its upkeep throughout the school year.
-An Automated Solar Powered Timed Water Garden, and a vertical Green Wall was built by students as well, allowing for the idea of ‘Always be innovating’ to be reinforced in our everyday classroom. Students have built technological innovations that make their operations more efficient/productive, and create biological innovations that push the boundaries of biomimicry, all in the hopes of inspiring innovation in others.
-In additon, students in Green Industries have also taken on environmental issues with their Berm project. Students not only learned about what plants were invasive to their zone, but also how to renovate a public and school place so that it was not only safe for the people, but also for the environment; Each better understanding of their relationship with the environment they live with.
Reflection & Celebration
While Green Industries is an ever continuing class with each semester either bringing new ideas to the table, or continuing old ones, the last year has been quite a success, despite the bumpy road.
The Class has had many successes such as growing a variety of plants in the Aquaponics system, such as Kale, basil, carrots, green beans, and lettuce; being able to raise and keep fish alive, and also being able to go out into the community and use their new knowledge to help innovate the space around them to create a more eco-friendly, sustainable projects, and futures.
The classes did have troubles with an infestation in the aquaponics system that was quickly resolved, but it resulted in the elimination of the project for around two weeks. Despite this, the students were able to quickly get the system back on its feet and growing plants once again. Students also had to face the restriction of space while building the indoor projects, but were able to creatively find a solution at every turn.
We at GCVI hope to continue these projects by including students of every grade, allowing for each semester/year, a handful of students teaching the new set of students how to work towards sustainability in every project they part-take in.