Green Gardening

St. Marguerite D’Youville students become part of elite “Raingers” club

Mother Nature was on our side during our Raingers Rain Garden build at St. Marguerite D’Youville on October 18th and 19th, 2016!

 

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Before: Underutilized, eroded area of the school grounds

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After: Rain Garden planted with native plants, shrubs and grasses and mulched with the help of over 50 students, teachers and support staff!

We enjoyed two beautiful days in the sunshine becoming responsible stewards of our watershed and our earth. First, we put our thinking caps on and learned all about stormwater, pollution, our watershed and what we can do to keep our water clean! Then, as the sun was calling our name, we took to the schoolyard to tackle the next challenge: how much stormwater can we capture! Using Green Venture’s stormwater house models, students from Mr. Czerniga’s grade 5/6 class and Mrs. Hunt’s grade 2 class helped to assemble a house that would capture more water than it let runoff. The students worked together to add rain barrels, rain gardens, green roofs, cisterns and permeable pavements to their house to capture stormwater! We used all of these methods to catch stormwater before it becomes runoff, before it picks up pollutants like car oil, cigarette butts, litter, fertilizers and pet waste, before it goes down the storm drain, and ultimately before it ends up polluting our Hamilton Harbour!

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Well on their way to becoming “Raingers”, the students took a walk around the neighbourhood to identify some of these stormwater management techniques in real life. We found many things such as downspouts that were disconnected from the stormdrain and running into front gardens capturing and filtering runoff, we found permeable driveways that slow runoff and allow stormwater to soak into the ground recharging the groundwater supply and many more. We identified problems and talked about solutions, and we sadly searched high and low but didn’t find one rain barrel (hint hint St. Marguerite D’Youville neighbours)!

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Now these Raingers were ready to get their hands dirty! Kelly and Steve from BARC (Bay Area Restoration Council) led our St. Marguerite D’Youville Raingers to an underutilized patch of “grass” behind Mr. Czerniga’s portable. 101_1784We identified this site as a strategic place to plant a Rain Garden that would capture all of the stormwater that ran off the two portables at the school! Equip with trowels and enthusiasm the students dug and planted native shrubs, plants and grasses into their very own Rain Garden! Covering it with mulch with help from the after school daycare program, our Rain Garden was complete in one afternoon! And Mother Nature struck again when it rained for the next two days, not only watering our new garden but testing out the infiltration rate. We happy saw the rainwater soak into the native plant garden.  It was a fantastic two days with St. Marguerite D’Youville. We hope you enjoy your Rain Garden for many years to come!

Want a Rain Garden at your school?! Contact Raingers Program Coordinator Laura Anderson at laura.anderson@greenventure.ca or by phone at 905-540-8787 ext. 158

EcoStars Summer Camp is finished for the year

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With the summer coming to a close, it’s been a sad week here at the EcoHouse- we just don’t know what to do with ourselves! It’s been a tough time packing up all of our crafts and games, but we look forward for the next summer to come. The three sessions of campers that we had were equal parts enthusiastic and creative, and we’re so lucky to have had them as EcoStars! Be it an adventurous hike in the woods, or a quick dip in the pool. our campers were down for everything! They were especially brave when facing our scaly friends from the reptile man. More than that, our campers were kind to one another, and it was really fantastic to see some new friendships form over the week.

 

We really hope to see some returning (and new!) faces next year, but until then we’ll be preparing all of the fun games and activities to come! Enjoy the last little bit of summer, and good luck with the coming school year everyone! We really do hope you can make an Eco-impression on your classmates, friends, and family.

 

Bright Eyes and Dandy

 

 

Bugs n’ Bloom EcoStars Camp Week #2

20160727_144716 It feels strange that we’re over halfway done summer camp, but that’s only because of how quickly it flew by! Our latest camp session was themed as Bugs n’ Blooms, and was jammed-packed with visits from the members of Bay Area Restoration Council, as well as some slithery friends from the Reptile Man. Our EcoStars took to the forest at the Dundas conservation centre, where we found all types of friends- both big and small! We even lent a helping hand to our community by helping prepare food with Victory Gardens’ food bank program.

I was so impressed with the curiosity, creativity, and genuine enthusiasm of my campers. I can’t wait to see what our next (and last!) week has to offer… let’s just say we’re soaked with excitement. Until then!

 

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Meet the EcoStar Summer Camp Staff

Green Venture is getting ready for their first EcoStar camp! With topics like Bugs & Blooms, H2Whoa that’s a lot of Water, and EcoExplorers, campers are sure to learn new skills and an appreciation for the environment around them.  As camp director I’m excited to introduce our two camp counsellors Bright Eyes and Dandy.

Continue reading

R.A. Riddell School is going on a Green Venture

May 19, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

R.A. RIDDELL ELEMENTARY IS GOING ON A GREEN VENTURE

HAMILTON, ON – DEPAVE PARADISE (www.depaveparadise.ca) projects engage volunteers and neighbourhoods in communities across Canada, removing pavement and planting gardens filled with native species in its place. On May 28th and June 4th, Green Venture, R.A. Riddell Elementary School, partners and local residents will be hosting Hamilton’s 3rd Depave Paradise event to transform part of the school’s asphalt playground into a beautiful garden for the community to enjoy. Continue reading

Four Shades of Green

An update on our grass alternative beds

EcoHouse is getting greener — four shades greener to be exact!  Last summer we established four small test plots for different types of lawn alternatives, right in our own front yard.  We wanted to understand the benefits of each type firsthand, and be able to show visitors exactly how each would turn out.  This has been an exciting project right from the get-go.  There was much debate amongst staff and board as to which alternatives we should choose, and the four finalists that made it into the exhibit were: Continue reading

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

This week, we updated the green roof demo at EcoHouse with some Sedums! A green roof or living roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. Green roofs are a beautiful and cost-efficient way to conserve energy, manage storm water, and insulate a building. Continue reading

Adventures in Turtle Rescue

Every now and again things happen unexpectedly that can provide surprise opportunities for environmentalism in daily life.

This lesson was quickly learned by Green Venture’s Garden Coordinator Julia Shulist when preparing to launch the Riverdale Community Garden Project. Peeking out of a large mound of soil were tiny turtle eggs! Being the environmentally conscious and animal loving type of person she is, all work was stopped until Julia could figure out what to do with these little guys. Through contacting the Ministry of Natural Resources we were pointed to a volunteer based, non-profit animal rescue in our area that focuses on native Ontario Wildlife that had recently added Snapping Turtles to their list of animals eligible to be assisted! Continue reading

Small Bites, Big Change _Riverdale Garden Project

Kale Chips - made by Children from  Riverdale Neighborhood cooking classes

Kale Chips – made by children from Riverdale garden project

Empowering Riverdale’s Food Security was Green Venture’s latest project to integrate education, health, recreation and the environment.
Funded by the Community Foundation, this project included a series of nine cooking classes delivered over six weeks that paired local food, agriculture and gardening themed recipes and activities.
Green Venture staff initially experienced frustration locating a suitable space for holding these classes. This challenge ended up leading Green Venture to a fantastic opportunity: a first-time collaboration with the City of Hamilton’s Riverdale Community Centre afterschool program.
The after school program and cooking classes were open to children ages five to twelve living in the Riverdale Community. Thirty children, representing the neighbourhood’s rich cultural diversity (including newcomers), registered for the hands on program.
Through handling, preparing and tasting fresh whole foods, the children explored and learned about the food system and how their choices can make positive or negative impacts. They explored how and where their favorite fruits and vegetables grow (local vs. imports), identifying processed or un/less processed foods, food packaging and waste reduction, vegetarian “superfoods” (i.e.: Meatless Mondays), and the power of food celebrations.
These children learned that making simple delicious fun recipes at home with their families really could strengthen food security in their community while improving the health of their environment and their growing bodies. At the end of the six weeks, each child participated in a mock farmers’ market where they picked out all the fresh ingredients needed to make one of their favourite recipes, cheese and veggie quesadillas. The children were all challenged to apply what they learned by taking the ingredients home and preparing a meal with their families.
It was inspiring to see children build confidence, work as a team and even demonstrate leadership through food. Equally as impressive was seeing them make proactive choices about the types of recipes they wanted to make and eat.
We asked the participants to tell us about what they learned from the program. Here is what a few of them had to say.
The best ingredients Green Venture used was:
“orange pepper” – Shyanne, 6
“tortilla bread” – Nora, 10
“tomatoes” – Shenika, 11
“peanut butter” – Justin, 9 (we used natural PB; no additives)

I learned this about food and the environment:
“you should eat healthy and fresh” – Nora, 10
“[not to eat] processed foods” – Shenika, 11
“unprocessed food isn’t always healthier [for the environment]” in reference to local vs. imported fresh foods – Ronald, 10

The recipe I will try to make at home:
“Kale chips” – Nora, 10
“Fresh Fruit Salsa” – Rami, 11
“Peanut butter-banana spirals” – Shyanne, 6
“Lemonade” – Hailina, 10 (freshly squeezed)
Green Venture would like to thank the Conserver Society, our sponsoring partner, for helping to bring this project to life. And we would also like to recognize the dedication of two high school volunteers from the Riverdale Community that demonstrated a special level of care and dedication to every cooking class.
Written by Sapphire Singh & Virginia Stonehouse

AquaFarm- The Self-cleaning Fish Tank That Grows Food

AquaFarm

The AquaFarm

Green Venture recently purchased an Aqua Farm. This is an aquarium-sized version of aquaponics. Fish are kept in large tanks and plants are kept in beds above the water with some rocks, gravel, or clay and their roots hang below into the water in the tank. The water is cycled through the system collecting waste from the fish, is then pumped into the plant beds where it is filtered naturally by the plants and it can then be returned to the fish tanks. We wanted to test out this cool new idea on a small scale. We bought ours at a local  aquarium supply store. We are currently keeping the aquafarm in the reception area at the EcoHouse. It’s doing well so far and the plants are growing pretty fast. Using the aquafarm ensures healthy plants, healthy fish and a clean tank.

How Does The AquaFarm Work?

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Grow stones are placed in the planters above the tank. We transplanted a spider plant for starters, then planted lemon grass seeds and basil seeds.

The fish produce ammonia-rich waste which is pumped up to the grow bed. Beneficial bacteria convert waste into nitrates which are toxic to the fish but make great food for the plants. The plants use nitrates as nutrients they need in order to grow, while simultaneously cleaning the water for your fish.

Aquaponics was developed by the Aztecs in c.1000 A.D. They built floating islands for food plants while fish proliferate around the islands while leaving waste on the lake bottom where it was collected to fertilize the plants.  fish are kept in large tanks and plants are kept in beds above the water with some rocks, gravel, or clay and their roots hang below into the water in the tank. The water is cycled through the system collecting waste from the fish, and is then pumped into the plant beds where it is filtered naturally by the plants and it can then be returned to the fish tanks.

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Bert And Ron

We called our first two fish in the aqua farm after the Veevers brothers who donated the property to the City of Hamilton in 1986.  Please welcome “Bert” and “Ron”.

Writen by Nicole Burgin  Co-op Student at  Green Venture.

written by Nicole Burgin
Co-op Student at
Green Venture.