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Welcome Jamie!

Green Venture welcomes our newest Education Program Support team member, Jamie MacLean…

“I’ve had my eyes on Green Venture for quite some time, and I am thrilled to be working with education programs. I studied Environmental Sciences and Biology at Trent University and have since been involved in outdoor education and sustainable farm /garden practices. Working alongside an organization that focuses on living a greener, more sustainable life is the perfect place to be!

My favorite programs here at Green Venture are Vermicomposting and the Smoothie Bike (wouldn’t want to get those two mixed up!). The Vermicompost bins get kids thinking about their food waste and how it can be reused in the garden to grow new fruits and veggies! The Smoothie Bike is a great activity to get active and show the power of human energy and learn about local whole foods. Plus, we all get to try some tasty smoothies at the end!

When I’m not here talking about my love for soil, you can catch me riding my bike around town, reading some gushy books or playing derby with Hammer City.

I can’t wait to meet your students. To book a tour, presentation or smoothie bike. Please contact Virginia at 905 540 8787 x154 or education@greenventure.ca or visit our website for more information.”

– Jamie

Welcome back Heather!

After working For the City of Hamilton for ten years helping engage our community and City staff in making Hamilton a little greener and more sustainable I have taken early retirement and now have the opportunity to get involved with Green Venture again. It feels like coming home!

I was Executive Director of Green Venture from 1995 to 2007. During that time I was busy with all aspects of administration, planning, staffing, daily operations and financial management. However what I loved best about my job was engaging with the public and students and sharing my passion and knowledge about the natural environment and ways to protect it.

Returning to Green Venture at this stage I get to do all the fun stuff without having to worry about the administrative work. Since I have returned, I have had the opportunity to make worm bins with the students at Millgrove School so that they can reduce their lunch garbage by composting their food scraps at school. I have made seed balls with the Sparks of Stoney Creek and helped them learn how plants grow. Seed bombs are my favorite activity with the kids. When I tell them they have to use their hands to mix up seeds, clay and soil they reactions are loud and honest. There’s lots of “ewwwws” but also some “Yes!”. I normally ask them “Who lives on the Earth?” Everybody! “Who needs to take care of the Earth?” Everybody! “Who needs to get their hands dirty?” Everybody! I want them to have fun but still understand how important it is for every one of us to do our part. I am so inspired by the knowledge and enthusiasm that these students exhibit.

Our planet is facing a lot of challenges. We are worried about climate change, plastics in the oceans, species at risk, toxics in our food and water etc. But there are a lot of great people who are passionate about making changes and protecting our natural environment and I am glad to be able to work together with them to make our community and our world a little better.

Groups might be making paper, running the Waste Race, they might even get to be the Mayor in a town hall meeting! We know how much of a challenge it can be to find school trips that both meet the required curriculum and are engaging for the kids. At the Eco House we can help everyone meet their goals and have a great time.
To book a tour contact Virginia the Education Manager at education@greenventure.ca or 905 540 8787 x154 or click the teachers link on our greenventure.ca home page.

I look forward to meeting you all!!!
Heather Donison

SAVE THE DATE: May 5 & 6 is Green Venture’s 2nd Annual Seedling Sale

Let’s get growing! Are you an avid backyard gardener or have a community garden plot that is waiting to
be filled this year? Interested in experimenting with container gardening? Want to grow interesting and
beautiful heirloom tomato varieties? Green Venture’s second annual veggie and herb seedling sale is at
EcoHouse on the weekend of Doors Open Hamilton. We’ll have a variety of tomatoes (over 15 different kinds!), bell and hot peppers, eggplant, herbs, kale, broccoli, herbs and more! This fundraising event supports Green Venture’s gardening initiatives at EcoHouse and in the community. All of the seedlings are grown at the EcoHouse by our dedicated staff and volunteers.

Saturday May 5th, 2018 from 10am-4pm 
Sunday May 6th, 2018 from 10am-4pm

Prices will vary by plant and size. $1-$5 each

If you have any questions or want to know more email Laura at laura.anderson@greenventure.ca

Follow our event page on Facebook for updates from the Solarium: Green Venture’s Veggie and Herb Seedling Sale and on Instagram @Green_Venture

Go Greener on Holidays

 Holiday sessions are times to enjoy your days off with family and friends but it is also important to remember to stay friendly to our mother earth by making sustainable choices when traveling, gifting, buying food, and making decorations.

 

Decoration tips for staying Eco-friendly

  • Decorate with items that are energy efficient and durable. For example, if you are using a tree to decorate you can purchase a living tree that you can plant outside or keep as a house plant after. When buying an artificial tree make sure you are investing in one that will last for years.
  • Lights are beautiful during holidays but they could waste a lot of energy so when decorating with lights make sure you are using LED lights or lights that have small solar panels on them. This way you are using green reusable energy and you are getting the beautiful decoration all in one.
  • Be creative and use nature to decorate your outdoor as well as your indoor or with materials you already own.

 

Stay Eco-friendly when it comes to gifts

  • Avoid excessive packaging.
  • Bring your own bags when shopping.
  • Plan your trips and do the shopping all at once so that you are making multiple trips and wasting gas and your own energy and time.
  • Save the gift bags you receive so that you can reuse them for the next holiday.
  • Send email cards.
  • Make your gifts by yourself, knit, bake, make art, preserve. This make your gift more personal too.
  • Wrap your gifts in more eco-friendly and creative ways, by using a scarf, old maps, newspaper, old cloth material, or make your own reusable gift bags. It is more fun and it gets very creative and unique.

 

Eat sustainably over the Holidays

  • Avoid wasting food when it comes to family dinners, get the portions right, pack the rest of the food in reusable containers and let the family members take away food with them when leaving your house.
  • Buy locally produced food.
  • Avoid using paper plates and napkins.
  • Donate whatever you accumulated during the holiday session before the food expires.
  • Avoid extra packaging when buying food.

 

Ifrodet Giorgees

Ontario offers additional electricity bill supports

The Ontario government, working with the hydro utilities, has announced a new program to assist customers having difficulty with their hydro bills. The program, the Affordability Fund, is designed for customers who are above the income thresholds for existing support programs, but still require some assistance.

https://www.affordabilityfund.org/

 

 

Ocean Pollution

Our daily activities have been polluting the ocean for centuries, this problem was magnified after World War II. Industries started manufacturing and synthesizing materials that were very harmful to the environment such as plastic products and inorganic pesticides. Oceans are mainly affected when humans are irresponsibly spreading harmful toxic substances such as oil, plastic, industrial and agricultural waste as well as chemical particles into the ocean. Another human action that is harming the marine life is mining for materials such as copper and gold. This causes water contamination and affects the life cycles of numerous marine organisms.

Pollution has so many effects on the ocean starting from a decreasing in biodiversity to behavioral changes, as well as increasing rates of cancer in animals as well as in humans. For example, oil spills could get on the gills and feathers of marine animals and make it hard for the animals to move or fly. Long term exposure can damage the animal’s eyes, lungs, skin and eventually lead to death. Another problem with oil spills is that oil has a lower density than the water thus it floats on the surface of water preventing the sunlight from reaching all the way to the marine plants. Therefore these plants cannot perform photosynthesis leading to lower oxygen levels in the ocean as well as the death of these plants since they cannot make their food anymore.

The main pollution problem in our ocean is plastic…. It’s is everywhere! The minimum time required for the plastic to degrade is 450 years which makes it stay in oceans for a very long time.  Thousands of animals end up mistaking plastic for food or the animals get tangled in it for rest of their life. When animals mistake the plastic for food and consume it, it leads to slow death caused either by the instant damage to their guts or the long term damage by taking up the volume of their stomach leading to the starvation of the animal. About 60% of the seabirds have eaten plastic particles, about 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic is ingested by the North Pacific fish, and 52% of sea turtles worldwide have eaten plastic.

These numbers are estimated to increase if humans continue with the same harmful habits.

Ways to decrease plastic ocean pollution numbers can start from your home:

  • Refusing to use single-use plastic bags, instead use biodegradable shopping bags.
  • Using reusable bottles for any beverages instead of using single-use plastic bottles.
  • Avoid excessive packaging products and bring your own reusable containers/bags when shopping.
  • When purchasing or finding a six-pack holder make sure to cut each one and properly dispose of it. These six-pack rings end up in the ocean choking wildlife animals like sea turtles.
  • Make sure all plastic products are properly recycled.
  • Talk and advise your family and friends about the importance of these steps to protect our ocean’s wildlife.

Other ways to protect our oceans is by getting out there and volunteering with local and international environmental organizations to go and clean up the oceans and beaches.

by Ifrodet Giorgees

Why We Need to Plant Native Species

Thinking about planting in your garden? Why not consider planting some of Ontario’s native plants. Here are the types of plants you can grow, the benefits of planting native, and how you can help create an environment that provides food and shelter for native animals and insects.

Plants that thrive naturally in an area are called native or indigenous species. Native species are great to plant because they are used to local soil and weather conditions, which means they survive longer while being low maintenance. Native plants are found to be much healthier and disease resistant which can help restore native biodiversity in the areas we live in.

Coneflower, EcoHouse, 2015

The Plants you can Grow and their Benefits

A good choice of groundcovers are Wild Geranium and Canada Anemone. Ecologists have found that these plants are easy to maintain and provide a solid source of food for hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.

Milkweed, Wild Strawberry, Big Bluestem, Bearberry and Mayapple are only a few of the wide variety of native plants you can choose to put in your gardens. The plants listed above are great if you are thinking about growing a pollinator friendly garden.

Milkweed, EcoHouse, 2017

Oak trees are a large source of food and shelter to many different species, and they help sustain biodiversity. They provide leafy food for moths, caterpillars and butterflies and they also provide large nesting areas for woodpeckers. Furthermore they provide living spaces for owls and bats. For those looking for more information about native species, invasive species and general knowledge about garden management tips, “Grow Me Instead” is an easy to follow guide that can help you with your inquiries.  (http://www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/GMI-Booklet_FINAL-FOR-WEB_May132016.pdf).

Planting native trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers of any type has numerous benefits:

  • can reconnect fragmented natural areas
  • restores a vital link in the water cycle
  • reduces wind and water erosion
  • improves air quality
  • rebuilds soils
  • reduces temperature extremes
  • creates refuges for wildlife and urbanized humans

https://www.ontarionature.org/discover/resources/PDFs/misc/habitat_creation.pdf

If you are thinking about starting a garden or adding to your landscape, keep in mind the large benefits planting native can provide for the environment.

by: Aaliyah Atcha

How to Make Classrooms/Schools Greener

It’s a new school year… and here are some great ways to make your classroom greener. Teachers: Here are a few ways you and your class can become environmental leaders at your school.

The article is called “How to Bring Green into the Classroom” (https://www.treehugger.com/htgg/how-to-go-green-school-teachers.html) and offers a variety of ways you can incorporate eco-friendly practices in the classroom. Alongside the article I also have a few ideas that you might consider for your classroom.

Calculating your carbon footprint

There are many different carbon footprint calculators online (here is one for reference: https://www.treesforlife.org.au/kids-carbon-calculator) that your class can use to see how much of a footprint they have. This is a good way to start a lesson about living more sustainably. It connects students to the environment and the impact that their actions have on it.

Conducting a small scale energy audit in the classroom

This would include having your class observe the different ways they use energy in the class. For example plugged in electronics, the use of lights, and the use of A/C or a heater. After their observations, students can come up with ideas about how to cut back on their use of energy. For example the article outlines turning the lights off before recess, and creating a checklist that students can monitor daily/weekly.

Walk or bike to school

Walking or biking to school can help reduce the amount of carbon emissions being released into the air. Discuss the different benefits of getting to school more “greenly” can have on their health as well as the environment. Perhaps having a walk or bike to school day each week for starters.

Bring plants indoors

Having a section of your classroom where students can take responsibility of caring for plants/growing food can help them connect with the environment and understand how things grow. It can also improve air quality in the classroom.

Litterless lunches

Challenge students to use reusable bottles, containers rather than putting things into the trash. Turn it into a schoolwide initiative where classrooms can compete to see who produces the least amount of waste.

Composting

Consider getting a green bin for your classroom to reduce the amount of food waste going into the trash. Have students take on the responsibility of taking out the green bin so it doesn’t give off a bad stench in the classroom. Also you might want to consider getting a vermicomposter for your classroom. A vermicomposter is the product of the composting process using various species of worms, usually red wigglers to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. You can feed the worm’s shredded paper, most vegetable and other food waste while producing healthy rich compost that can be used for planting. Feed your worms a diverse diet and always feed in moderation. If you have left over food that you don’t want to waste; chop it up and put it in a Ziploc bag in your freezer for later.

To learn more about Classroom Greening come for a tour of Green Venture’s Eco House. For more information contact education@greenventure.ca or 905 540 8787 x154 or visit our website at www.greenventure.ca

Aaliyah Atcha

 

Heritage window air testing results

The results of the Mohawk College study into heritage window testing that Green Venture participated in earlier this summer are now available as a download: Window Air Infiltration Research Project

An article about the project also appeared at https://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/new-study-shows-restored-200-year-old-windows-are-effective-brand-new-replacements.html

Eco-Stars campers in action

We would like to congratulate our Week 2 and Week 3 Eco-star campers! They were filled with energy and curiosity every morning to learn new things about the environment and learn how to make this world greener. We started the week by introducing the campers to our EcoHouse with a tour around the property and inside of the house. We played fun games like predator and prey, water preserving challenge, where the campers got to know each other and make new friends.

Our Eco-stars were visited by the Environment Hamilton, where the campers learned all about different ways to keep our air clean and ways to reduce pollution. They also got to learn and get their hands moving with some tools they used to measure the air quality at different places on the property and correlate and explain the results they received. They did not just use technology to measure air quality but they also got to learn how to use the biological factors to predict the quality of the air. For example they learned about the lichen and how it correlates to the good air quality.

Our campers also had an opportunity to visit Victory Gardens and learn how to harvest different type of crops. Our adventurous campers also had an amazing time on their trip to the Royal Botanical Gardens where they had a chance to go into the forest and feed different types of animals. They also played a fun game where they learned how certain animals collect their food for the winter and the strategies that they use to hide their food in safe places. They were also amused by the Lego statues and the beautiful flowers that were throughout the property.

Craft time was very interesting and fun with our Eco-star campers. They learned about the importance of taking care of our environment and reusing and recycling is one of the main ways to accomplish that. Our campers learned how to make birdfeeders from old water bottles and desk organizers from recycled containers. Stencil making was completed on recycled materials and we made paper from recycled paper. We also used natural material to make fun wood crafts from old tree branches.

 

Smoothie bike was one of our best educational and bonding time. Throughout the week we were able to make some fun recipes as a healthy snack replacement. We learned how to make hummus, orange and lemon popsicles, strawberry jam, and delicious mixed berry smoothies.

Our Eco-star graduates who have been hiking, swimming, learning new things and visiting new places, had to say goodbye to us as the camp weeks came to an end. We have made sure that our little eco-stars graduates for this year that will take pride and care of our planet!