Water

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

Fall Fun at EcoHouse Tours

Green Venture’s staff is ready for the fall school tours. My name is Susan, and I am one of the Education Support Staff here at Green Venture. As we get ready for another year of school tours, I have been thinking back over my favourite activities to do with visiting students. One thing that I love to show off at Green Venture is our Sink Toilet. First I get to watch as the children reluctantly follow me into our demonstration bathroom (“you want us to all come into the bathroom?!”), then I amaze them by flushing the Sink Toilet. This toilet uses the same water twice: when you flush, the clean tap water cosusan-oct-blogmes out of a tap on top of the tank, so that you can wash your hands. Then that soapy greywater fills the tank, and is used the next time someone flushes. Amazing! My favourite game to run is the “Farm Disaster Game”. I only get to play this with grade 6’s, so if you are in grade 6 please come visit me this year! The children get into groups, and I give them a lovely bird’s eye view of their farm (which are all different). Then I start reading through a series of random natural events that take place over the “year”, and we see which style of farming either monoculture or companion planting has the most plants left alive. It is a huge wake up call to realize how hard it is to be a farmer, how unfair Mother Nature is, and how amazingly plants can work together.

– Susan

If you are interested in booking a school tour this year contact Virginia Stonehouse, Education Manager 905 540 8787 x154 or education@greenventure.ca

 

Ready…Set….Go! EcoStars Challenge Begins!

ecostars_logoThere is an exciting new program starting at Green Venture this fall: the 2016 EcoStars Challenge! We have received many comments from teachers that they would love to have eco-activities that they could do back in their school community. In response to that, we are launching the EcoStars Challenge. The idea is for classes to take on these Challenges (there are 33 to choose from) and complete them at school. All the Challenges centre around the issues of climate change, and have been divided into 5 themes:

Get Growing, Move It , The Arts, Recycle That, Energy Wise

 

In order to encourage classes to take on Challenges, we are offering seven (7) grand prizes, thanks to the support of Clean Air Hamilton. Winning classes will be able to choose one (1) of the following grand prizes:

  •  a 2 hour school tour to EcoHouse (transportation included)
  •  a class visit from Green Venture staff, to set up a classroom composting worm bin (all supplies provided)
  •  the smoothie bike in your class for a week, set up and training by a Green Venture staff (recipes & ingredients kit provided)

To get started on the Challenges, all you need to do is visit greenventure.ca and click on our “EcoStars Challenge” tab. You can read the complete rules, and look through the Challenges. Then your class can choose a Challenge, and off you go! When completed, simply go back to the website and fill out a completion form. The more Challenges your class completes, the better your chance of winning a free school tour!

I am really excited to see which Challenges classes take on: will students want to map the native trees at school? Will they choose to host an Earth Hour event? Will they decorate their class with recycled items? Will they create blackout poetry? Will they read a great book about being eco-friendly?Smoothie Bike trial run 160506 cropped

As each Challenge is completed, we will be posting their success (i.e. photos, video, art, written reports) on the “EcoStars Wall of Fame” as well as the Hamilton Climate Change Map. Be sure to check back often to see what changes are being made by the students across Hamilton!

Students Slowing Stormwater: Raingers Training Starts Now!

No, we didn’t spell it wrong.

Introducing Hamilton’s newest youth profession: Raingers. Move aside Rangers, we’ve got a new group in town and these Raingers are taking Hamilton by storm, literally! Green Venture and the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC) have teamed up to train and inspire students to be active keepers of our water. Entrusted with the important job of protecting and preserving the Hamilton Harbour Watershed we will empower our young leaders to make lasting change.  These Raingers have a big responsibility!

In the natural environment, rainwater moves slowly through the land.  Once in the soil, rainwater that is not absorbed by plants will eventually recharge the groundwater table or enter creeks. Approximately 10% of rainwater that falls in a forest will leave as runoff. The rest is absorbed by plants, evaporates or soaks into the soil.

In urbanized environments most to all of the historical landscapes have been paved over. Rain flows quickly over impervious surfaces such as rooftops, driveways and parking lots. Rather than entering the soil the water is redirected to nearby storm drains. This water picks up pollutants along the way such as road salts, fertilizers and motor oil. These pollutants enter storm drains and are conveyed quickly to our streams and Hamilton Harbour.

The Solution

Through a hands on experiential stormwater management education program, Raingers will learn about the serious problems relating to stormwater and runoff including environmental and water quality degradation. Inside the classroom students will use model homes to measure stormwater, incorporating low impact development techniques such as rain barrels, disconnecting downspouts and rain gardens to capture stormwater before it hits the storm drain. The Raingers will then enter the urban environment (i.e. go outside) on an investigative journey to identify where water flows around their school and neighbourhood. The final step in training is when we see how far these students are willing to dig to create positive change. They will help to plant a rain garden at their very own school – capturing stormwater, reducing stormwater pollution and ultimately, protecting our watershed.

Rain gardens provide a perfect setting to teach about water quality, habitat creation and the impact of student actions on protecting Hamilton Harbour and its watershed. The native plants and species in a rain garden have high tolerance for excess moisture and increased levels of nutrients often found in stormwater. These gardens can be a powerful tool to make connections between land development, water quality, and personal actions. Today, a new era in stormwater management in dawning: managing rain where it falls, before it runs off.

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What is a Rain Garden?

A rain garden is a sunken garden (typically 4-8 inches deep) planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses designed to capture, absorb and naturally filter stormwater. A strategically placed rain garden will intercept the flow of stormwater and allow water to slowly infiltrate into the ground rather than contribute to stormwater runoff. Compared to a conventional patch of lawn, a rain garden increases ground water infiltration by about 30%.

The Raingers Rain Garden program is available to any school in the Hamilton Harbour Watershed. For more information about our Raingers Rain Garden program please contact Program Coordinator Laura Anderson at laura.anderson@greenventure.ca or 905 540 8787 ext 158

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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.

 

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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

Ridding Riddell of Pavement

Depave Paradise projects engage volunteers and neighbourhoods in communities across Canada, removing pavement and planting gardens filled with native species in its place. Hard surfaces, such as driveways, parking lots and buildings, interrupt the natural water cycle by preventing rain water from soaking into the ground. This in turn leads to flooding, poor water quality, and creates urban heat islands that are warming up our cities. By removing pavement and replacing it with green space, we are increasing the infiltration rate of rain water, cooling our neighbourhoods, keeping our water clean, and providing us and our children with greater connections to the natural world.

On May 28th and June 4th, we helped R.A. Riddell Elementary School, partners and local residents host Hamilton’s 3rd Depave Paradise event to transform part of the school’s asphalt playground into a beautiful garden – and it was a great success! 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

Dry Spring Solutions

What do you get when combine your life’s passion with an amazing team of earth-loving co-workers? …. Green Venture!

 My name is Chelsea and I am a new Educational Support Staff here at Green Venture.  My background is in teaching children how to grow food and dig in the dirt.  Working with kids is very rewarding (and at times challenging) and it is always nice to see a group of little ones exploring in the community gardens at Eco House.  There is so much to see, from the pollinator gardens to the community plots to the Red Wigglers who help to feed our plants.  The kids are excited and engaged and a lot of fun.  We help them make connections to their environment through games and arts and trivia, which is fun for both the kids and myself.

I have learned so much in the short time that I have been here and it’s nice to feel a part of the greater Hamilton community which is thriving and full of people helping to make our city a cleaner and greener place to live.  Green Venture is an awesome place to work and Eco House is a little hidden gem to those who haven’t yet discovered it.

Over the last few weeks the kids and I have been in the garden weeding, planting, and watering.  Have you noticed what a dry spring we have had? Continue reading