Nelson McIntyre Collegiate Backyard Revitalization Project – Stage 1
Our students designed a space that attended to the following 5 pillars: Inclusivity, Climate Action, Food Security, Healthy Living, and Reconciliation. This large project will be phased in over several years. The first section will focus on an Indigenous land-based learning classroom and our science and agricultural lab. The students have planted edible shrubs and orchard trees based on consultations with Indigenous Elders and landscape architects. They have built temporary raised garden beds for the community while we wait for funding for the Science and Agricultural Labs.
The entire project has been designed with sustainability in mind. Specifically, a cistern will be incorporated to harvest rainwater and irrigate, edible shrubs and orchards have been planted, and composting is included. We have further plans to complete this area. Natural seating, naturalized landscaping and more trees will come in the fall.
To date, we have planted 23 shrubs (saskatoons, raspberries, and black currents). Additionally, we have planted 5 apples trees and 3 plum trees. All have been covered with mulch to provide moisture retention.
We are working to support and advance communication around climate sciences and help students and our surrounding community to take action steps towards combatting climate change. We have included a number of land-based learning opportunities to explicitly teach Climate Action. All of these measures will ground our teaching practices in the following areas:
• By growing and eating our own food, we are reducing emissions because we reduce the need for transportation.
• By using rainwater to irrigate, we will save water and reduce waste water treatment needs.
• By composting food, we reduce the need to transport it.
We are primarily focusing on two areas of Climate Action. The first is to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through waste reduction and reduction in transportation needs as well as tree planting for increased air filtration, and the second is to educate our community so that they will do the same. We see our educational goal as the most impactful as we can reach students and community members by the 100s, thereby expanding our influence.
We will teach students how to plant, maintain, and support naturalized grounds, using recycled rainwater with climate action in mind. We will teach students the importance of reducing water usage through harvesting rainwater, mulching, and by planting native plants to Manitoba. Teaching students the health, economic and environmental impacts of home gardening also supports emission reduction by reducing transportation both in the purchasing and waste removal. Composting will be part of this educational process. Our community will also benefit from these gardens, as they will be primarily for community use in the summer months.
The tree planting is an important educational priority. Creating a canopy for shade and air filtration is an important educational component to help with air purification. Additionally, we will have less grass and more naturalized areas in the yard. This will be a direct reduction in mowing and watering, creating a more environmentally sustainable area.
Reflection & Celebration
We are in the beginning stages of this work. We plan to continue planting – more trees, shrubs, and indigenous plantings. We also have plans to build permanent community gardens with a cistern irrigation system as part of this project.
We are excited to get started and look forward to the educational opportunities this project will create.