Reigniting our Sustainable Practices at Boyne!
-Figure out what has been happening in our school and what the problems were!
-Create a beautiful pollinator space!
-Start composting and conserving water!
We wanted to hit multiple small projects with our funds in order to reignite the passion for sustainability at our school! When COVID-19 hit, our school, like all others, had to modify our approach to learning together. Within these modifications, a lot of our previous eco-initiatives were pushed to the side while the world dealt with a pandemic. The LSF conference not only reignited our educators’ passions for sustainability and eco initiatives but gave our students and now our greater school community a renewed sense of hope at Boyne. We have been able to utilize these funds and really stretch them, as the conference reminded us to reach out to community partners (again something that was lost with COVID).
The initial spark for our project was our front garden. After years, it had overgrown with weeds and was full of litter from the community. We decided that it would be a great place to put in a pollinator garden. We had to start by picking up the trash and recycling what we could. The soil was so depleted of nutrients and packed down that we had to use an electric tiller to start. We were lucky enough to have all of our soil and plants (Thank you Green Horizons, the Ontario Hosta Society and local families!) donated to this garden for free. Additionally, the landscaping company that recently fixed our field left behind some river rocks in places that were not safe for our students, so we repurposed them into a garden border. We used the first portion of our funds to purchase mulch for our garden as we worried about it staying hydrated over the summer. The mulch will help to hold the moisture for longer so our plants can have a fighting chance. Our caretakers will also be watering it over the summer. The second part of our grant allocation went towards purchasing a rain barrel for the school. This rain barrel will be used for a variety of things. First to water our garden, but also for our Kindergarten team to use in their mud kitchen. Access to water for the mud kitchen was a pain for the teachers, and this way the kids can access it themselves. We are also then reducing our city water use and recycling what we can! What we have also noticed is that this garden is not near a convenient source for our taps so we used another portion of our grant money to purchase watering cans. These will not only be used to water our new garden, but other areas around the school as well. We made a slideshow to showcase this-check it out in present mode!
Next year we plan on creating DIY Ollas to bury in the soil so that our plants have another source for hydration. As we made a pollinator garden, we hope that bees will be partaking in the flowers we have planted. We also hope to create bee houses to attract more pollinators.
Although we were graciously donated soil, we know that the soil will continue to need nutrients in order to sustain our plants. This is why we spent a portion of the funds on a double batch rolling composter. Due to various reasons our school does not use green bins for food waste. We are working towards changing this, however for now we will focus on using and creating our own compost. The reason we selected a rolling composter is because it seemed like the easiest to use for beginners! We have just started using it so we do not have any usable yet, but hope to have some by the end of the school year. We hope to use this soil in our front garden to revitalize the soil. If this works out, we will look at purchasing another composter next year as we are a large school and one composter will not meet our food waste needs. Our students made a video to educate our staff and students about the proper use and care of this composter (check it out!). We did need to use some portion of our funds to buy a lock for our composter as we live in an area that has had more vandalism recently and wanted to make sure it would stay safe.
The final portion of our grant was spent on the purchase of metal tongs for each classroom. During Earth week, we created challenges for each classroom to participate in (Turn off your Lights Tuesday, Wasteless Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday and Figure out the bin Friday). If classes participated successfully they earned a stamp to potentially win prizes. What we were really doing was tracking what problems existed in our school. The largest problem in our school was having trouble putting waste in the right place. We surveyed students asking why they felt it was challenging to fix recycling bins when they saw waste was not properly sorted. Most said it was because they didn’t want to touch things in the bins. Our solution to this problem was buying a pair of metal tongs for each classroom. This way students would not have to physically touch the waste and it can be sorted accordingly. We chose metal tongs as we hope that they will last a little longer than plastic as they are more durable. Additionally, if they get dirty from sorting, they can easily be washed or put in our dishwasher at school. We also made an announcement to educate staff and students about this initiative-check it out!
Reflection & Celebration
We truly appreciate the grant money that was given to us by LSF. It not only allowed us to fulfill our action plan, but also revitalized our eco initiatives at Boyne! We cannot wait to continue to encourage our school to use more sustainable practices next year!