Our vision for Canada is one in which pollinators are no longer in danger of disappearing. Pollinators are extremely important for maintaining the habitats and ecosystems that many animals rely on for food and shelter. Maintaining pollinator numbers and biodiversity is essential for Canadian ecosystems. On a more human level, most Canadian crops are pollinated by animals. Losing pollinators will devastate our food production. In our vision of Canada, every school, business, and home will have a pollinator garden in place to provide a safe place for these very important animals.
We built a planter box out of wood and concrete, which we filled with good quality soil to serve as a pollinator garden. The students planted a variety of pollinator seeds in small pots in our greenhouse which are growing nicely and waiting to be planted in the new garden as soon as the weather improves.
This project is of great environmental significance. The current loss of pollinators cannot be ignored. This garden works at helping with this issue in a few ways.
First, it directly impacts pollinator loss by providing a habitat for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. By placing a bug hotel in the garden, and planting a variety of pollinator friendly plants, we can help increase the number of pollinator insects in our community.
Secondly, the garden will serve as both a reminder to the school and broader community about the plight of pollinators and as an inspiration to others. We are hoping that by seeing the garden that we built (in a very visible area of the school) students, parents, and teachers will be inspired to do their part and build their own pollinator gardens at home. As part of this project, our Ecoteam engaged the school community in an education campaign about pollinators. For Earth Day last year, the students put up educational posters about pollinator loss and their effect, and showed a short video about the effect of pollinator loss. The students then handed out close to a hundred pots with seeds with pollinator seeds.
Finally, this project has been extremely inspiring for the students that were directly involved in the inception, planning, development, and execution of this project. These students have gained confidence in themselves and a sense that they can make a huge difference for their community and the environment. The life lessons they learned from being involved in this project will help inspire further action from them.
Student leadership and participation was key for this project. During the implementation of this project the participating students learned a variety of skills. They learned about finances, both in fundraising and cost analysis of the materials. They learned about landscaping and worked with our school admin in deciding for the best location of the garden. They used their creativity when painting the signs for the garden, decorating the bug hotel, designing the shape and look of the garden, and painting rocks with pollinator images to be placed in the garden (and serve as a reminder of its purpose during winter). The students learned biology since they had to research which pollinator plants to use and facts about pollinator loss for the education campaign that was part of this project. The students learned about gardening and seed germination when they planted the pollinator seeds and tended to them as they grew in our school’s greenhouse.
One of the best parts of the project was watching the student build the garden. The students learned about the construction of a garden and got to use simple power tools and landscaping materials to build it. They did all the work themselves under the guidance of the teachers involved. They gained confidence in their abilities to build a solid, beautiful structure that will last for many years and bring joy to the school community. This was particularly important since all participating teachers and students of this project are female and construction is still typically considered to be a male activity.
Youth leadership was definitely highlighted in this project. This project was a student project from inception to execution. The teachers involved acted solely as guides – providing encouragement, advice and supervision.
Reflection & Celebration
There were a few challenges encountered during this project. For example, getting vendors to provide discounts was unsuccessful. The students wrote letters and delivered them to local home improvement stores but got no response from them.
Another challenge was in choosing the location of the garden. The students had initially planned for the garden to be placed out the school’s front doors so that all students could walk by it every day. They took measurements and drew up their plans. However, when presenting their plans to our school administration, they were reminded that many students in our school have allergies to bee stings and that such a well trafficked area would present a health hazard. It was back to the drawing board to choose different locations that had the requirements the students needed (in terms of shade, flat ground, and visibility) while keeping student safety in mind. In the end a great location was chosen and approved by our principal. It is at the back of the school parking lot. This location is away from well trafficked areas but still highly visible to all students and visitors who drive up to the school or take a school bus. Furthermore, this location backs onto a section of wild flowers and trees that will provide more habitat space for our pollinators and had existing landscaping rocks that adds to the appeal of the garden as an area where kids could hang out (as long as they don’t have allergies).
This project will be sustained and taken care of by the students that are members of our Eco-team each year. Students have committed to showing up periodically over the summer holidays to weed and water the garden.
We plan on growing the garden in future years. Future fundraising efforts will be made to so that we can add different layers of planter boxes to the one we constructed. We hope that the current garden serves as a central general pollinator garden with dedicated bee and butterfly gardens constructed around it.
Click here to check out a video of our project!