Five years ago, our school celebrated its 50th anniversary. In recognition, our school and community created an outdoor classroom with a small amphitheatre of rocks, a small stage area and sheltering trees that would grow and create shade. They also included a berm with three bushes to eventually create a butterfly/pollinator garden.
Over Covid, the three bushes continued to grow and were cared for by the children. The ground became a bit compacted but other than the bushes, there was little to attract pollinators or interest.
Our idea was to add lots of perennial native plants that could thrive in our schoolyard conditions in a garden that would connect people to nature and raise awareness of the ways we can take small actions to create positive inspiration and change to care for our environment in the face of the climate crisis. We hoped to invite people to not only see the garden, but to experience it by creating a path that encourages you to walk gently through the garden, surrounded on either side by the lovely smells of herbs.
The children learned about butterflies and migration. They studied their life cycle. At forest school they looked at trees and fungi and appreciated the cycles that decompose matter into healthy soil for plants to thrive. They researched plants that would attract pollinators and grow well in our schoolyard and area.
When they dug into the earth and observed the roots as we teased them out to settle into the ground, we heard many connections being made to how the worms we saw were “interesting” and “important” and the children gently returned them to the soil (after holding, observing and feeling proud that they were so brave to touch them and care for them so the worms could continue to care for the soil).
In addition to our funding from LSF, we raised community awareness by writing letters to local businesses that have plants. Our local Metro grocery store manager loved the children’s pictures and letters so much he donated an additional $100 for soil, some plants and tomato cages.
When we started planting, we discovered how badly the soil had compacted over time. It was all but impossible for the children to dig the holes to put our plants in the garden. We then reached out to our Falgarwood Neighbourhood and Falgarwood Parents groups on Facebook and asked if anyone had a rototiller or time to help us out. Before the evening was over, we had the offer of a loan of a 16 inch rototiller from a neighbourhood gardener and a kind offer from one of the children’s grandpas to come and turn the entire garden over. It was super lovely to have so many positive comments posted from folks who said what a beautiful project and what a kind community we live in. Amazing how a little butterfly garden can spread so many seeds of positivity and awareness through a community!
Reflection & Celebration
We will be celebrating our garden on June 23. We will be having people tour our garden after school. The children will celebrate the garden by presenting animal fable plays to each other in our outdoor classroom beside the pollinator garden.