Our action project this year in the Primary Nature Class was to initially to create a new outdoor hub for the preschool class. We had such a successful project last year with our tree nursery and pollinator/vegetable gardens, that we decided this year to try and develop a rain garden in the preschool hub. However, after a couple of applications and barriers faced by the Mount Community center’s board of directors we were unable to pursue such a project. Therefore we decided to recharge our nursery and transform part of our pollinator garden into a wetland aquascape. This would be possible due to the fact that we were allowed to continue to develop the gardens we currently had established.
Students worked together in pricing out 11 new species of trees to order for our tree nursery, and we managed to order double the amount be began with last year. In terms of our wetland aquascape, students measured, dug, created models, conducted water infiltration tests, and hauled many rocks back from the creek in order to build the rock shelves that will hold aquatic plants. Part of the reason we wanted to focus on a wetland model was to emphasize the importance of protecting our watersheds and demonstrating how the parts of the water cycle are purified through wetland ecosystems. We also added a sustainable solar component, as our outdoor hub has no electrical outlets. Therefore, we invested in a solar panel and a battery that the pump would be set on a 3-hour interval, giving the system time to recharge itself. This project demonstrates to students that with careful planning, hard work, and attention, our watersheds and wetlands can be conserved.
Since the Primary Nature Class spends most afternoons in Jackson Creek Park (Peterborough, ON), in what is one of a few urban old growths and is now deemed a heritage park, the creek side, in particular, is a sacred place for the students. They have practiced sit-spots (mindfulness) by the river developing their observational skills, conducted many water studies, planted native trees and shrubs, and foraged seeds and other nature-treasures. Students wanted to create a living model of Jackson Creek and have learned a great deal about aquatic ecosystems and planting.
Reflection & Celebration
Building upon last year’s tree nursery, this project would only create more biodiversity in our outdoor hub. In fact, we were able to collaborate with Kawartha Land Trust and Camp Kawartha and plant 210 more trees around the region while learning about the key roles trees have in powering our water cycle. In just the past two years alone, students have planted roughly 360 trees, tending to the nursery, watering regularly, and selling trees and fruit bushes for charitable causes (currently fundraising for the Turtle Conservation Center).
It is important to our community that we create a beautiful outdoor space for our students to learn in since we are a forest school! By naturalizing the outdoor hub and including all parts of a healthy ecosystem we can teach students about how to create healthy habitats for wildlife and local ecology.
Thank you for helping us to fund this wetland model and inspiring us in turning our learning environment into a greener space!