Introducing our EcoStars Summer Camp Counsellors

Introducing another of our 2018 EcoStars Summer Camp counsellors…

“My name is Panda. As a current Environmental Sciences student at McMaster University I could not be more excited to be working at Green Venture this summer!  I have had previous experience in environmental education for people of all ages and I am thrilled be able to share what I know, as well as develop and expand my knowledge further through all the incredible programs offered here at Green Venture. Being a part of an organization that shares my values of creating a cleaner and healthier community is truly a dream come true.

As a kid at heart, my favourite hobbies include; hiking through the great outdoors, monkeying around with some rock climbing, learning about various ways to preserve our environment, and getting my hands dirty with some gardening. Many of these fun activities and more will be taking place during the Eco Stars Camp! What better way to spend the summer than by letting kids be kids again and getting back to the elements to explore nature.

My previous experiences with environmental education and as a camp counsellor proved to be a lot of fun, and I enjoy nothing more than seeing campers outside, making friends and enjoying their summer to the fullest! I look forward to meeting each and every one of the campers! If you haven’t registered yet, sign up today!”

Our camp weeks run:

July 2 to July 6

July 9 to July 13

July 23 and 27

July 30 to August 3

Before and after care is available.

To register contact Virginia (Snow) at 905 540 8787 X154 or education@greenventure.ca or sign up on our website www.greenventure.ca

 

The Lightning Bike & Green Venture

Green Venture is all about living sustainably, and exploring ways each of us can avoid making our mark – on the environment that is. From healthy soil, fresh air, to clean drinking water, what can we do, and what we can consider, when it comes to all the choices we make in our daily lives. Funny thing is, a lot of them are actually really really easy. But still, we struggle. The Lightning Bike is all about energy. The energy we use in almost absolutely all that we are and do. Look around, everything around you not from nature, required energy to produce, ship, sell, be consumed, and then trashed. We get this energy from a variety of sources, some cleaner than others. Burning coal, nuclear, solar, wind, natural gas, etc, etc – there’s lots of it so we use it freely and in abundance. Its super cheap to, so that makes it easier to disregard as well. But what of Human Power? That is, power or energy created through a physical action. Could be rowing, biking, walking, all would work. The premise being that in order for my computer to be on right now allowing me to type this, I would either need to be riding a bike hooked up to a generator, or, I would have had to cycle earlier to charge some batteries in order to power my computer. Maybe I would be drafting this with pen and paper before typing it into my computer just to save time, but I didn’t do that because last months hydro bill was only $67. Why even turn my computer off at all – save all that start up time.

I fabricated these custom, retro style bars for use in multiple riding positions.

The Lightning Bike at Green Venture is looking to explore questions around energy, and this
exploration is going to require some real physical commitment. As of right now, the bicycle part of the
Lightning Bike is complete, and my tech guru Tim is working diligently to complete the generator box
that turns pedal power into 1500 watts of juice. I’ve asked for some cool LED’s on it, but we will see
about that as LED’s require power on their own, so do I want to pedal for some LED’s? Maybe I’ll be
okay with a mechanical set up. After all, before abundant electricity, equipment and home appliances
were mechanical and required our physical input in order to operate. As soon as the generator power box is complete, the exploring will begin. 1500 watts. I wonder how many watts my computer and the monitor are using right now? And can I type while cycling? Anybody know any really good cyclists? Contact me if you do.


By Christopher McLeod

Update from the EcoHouse living roof project

Our EcoHouse living roof project is getting a bit of a fix this summer.

 2015 – living roof modules

In 2015 we installed the green roof modules on part of the pergola, but due to weight considerations, we opted instead not to add more modules. Instead, we tried our hand at growing some creeper vines. the idea was the the vines would eventually cover the pergola, creating a lush canopy.

It didn’t go exactly to plan, as a couple of bad winters knocked out the vines and its original placement in the shadow of one of our more aggressive white pines didn’t help.

So, this spring, the Virginia creeper was repotted and moved, and look at it now! We’ve got some tendrils climbing the posts, which is precisely what we were going for.

 2018- new growth virginia creeper

Come and take a look at it later in the summer for our “Green Venture Community Day” (Sat Aug 11) , or visit us for the Uproot fundraiser dinner in September, and take in the vista under the pergola. For more information on Uproot tickets, please contact moira.mcguigan@greenventure.ca or call 905-540-8787.

Native Pollinator Friendly Plants 

The Golden Horseshoe area is home to numerous orchards, farms, and vineyards, and all of these depend on pollinators. The Government of Ontario estimates that 13% of its annual crop revenues, or $978 million dollars, can be directly attributed to pollinators. The majority of pollination is done by commercially raised bees; these insects are not native to the area, and their populations have been in decline for years. Our native pollinator populations are also in decline – because of habitat loss, invasive species, and pollution. The importance of native pollinators is undeniable, and by planting a pollinator friendly garden, you can do your part to aid in pollination population growth and stabilization. 
Pollinators in southwestern Ontario are not limited to just bees; butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles, and flies all contribute to pollination. These native pollinations will often not pollinate non-native plants, so it is imperative to fill your garden with plants native to the Hamilton area. Planting flowers in clusters will also help pollinations easily locate and move between blooms. You should aim to have flowers blooming throughout the entire season, from May to October. A list of pollinator friendly species native to southwestern Ontario, along with ideas and info about pollinator friendly gardens is available here. Native gardens require less maintenance, less watering, and protect biodiversity.
In addition to the planting of native species, you can made your garden a friendly habitat for native pollinators. Simple things, like a bee bath or a bee hotel, provide pollinators with all the things they need to flourish. To make a bee bath, fill a dish with stones and shallow water. This allows bees to drink when the weather is too hot, facilitating the continuation of their pollination journey. A bee hotel provides a place for solitary bees to nest. Make one by filling a milk carton with bamboo rods. Instructions can be found here. It is important to note that when you are making a bee hotel, you should use untreated wood and bamboo.
link about pollinator friendly gardens: http://www.gardenontario.org/subdomains/conservation/resources/guide.pdf

link on how to build a bee hotel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9-gJuDgKnU

Welcome Moira!

My name is Moira and I am one of the new staff members here at EcoHouse!! I am currently working as an education support staff member, and I am the coordinator for our Annual Fundraiser Uproot!  While I am new with Green Venture, I am no stranger to education.  I studied at the University of Guelph and graduated in the spring of 2015 with an Honours Degree in Sociology & an accompanying Minor in History, and I am also employed with the City of Hamilton at Battlefield House Museum & Park as a historical interpreter.

In my roles with the city and my roles here, I am very lucky to combine my main passions: my love of historic homes, educating people of all ages and making the world I live in a greener place!  I am very lucky to have grown up in Hamilton and I have always enjoyed our green spaces and our push to make our community more green minded.  I am continually learning and adapting to make my life as sustainable and waste free as possible, so, I am super excited to work at Green Venture.  In my short time here, I have already made changes in my personal life, which will positively impact my aim for a greener lifestyle.

 

So far, I have been introduced to some of our education programs, and my favourite aspects are our seed bombs (the perfect addition to any gardening arsenal, especially for a lazy gardener like myself) and our smoothie bike (who doesn’t like smoothies as a reward for physical exercise?).  The seed bombs are a bit mushy to make, but most children love the experience of playing in clay and soil, plus- they are told to get dirty and make something similar to a mud pie. For me, the aspect of turning a unused, or underdeveloped piece of land in a beautiful, colourful garden is a wonderful treat for any community.  The smoothie bike on the other hand, is a fun program even for adults. They get to create their own smoothie recipe, they have the opportunity of keeping the bike for a week and they have a guilt-free snack break.  Those participating are using energy produced solely by riding a stationary bike to blend their smoothie on the attached blender.

 

These are just two examples of the amazing educational programs that we have available here at Green Venture.  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 EcoHouse 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.  And who knows, maybe you’ll have me on one of your tours!

Or if you would like to come to our fundraiser event Uproot visit our website or contact Moira at. moira.mcguigan@greenventure.ca

 

Moira

 Moira- wearing her other hat…so to speak… as a historical interpreter.

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

From Grey to Green: A Permeable Parking Lot Story

Depave Paradise has officially wrapped for 2017! We’ve had our most successful year yet Depaving 5 sites for a total of 594m2 asphalt removed! One of our community sites, New Horizons Thrift, Vintage & Collectables, challenged us at Green Venture to a new post-depave vision – a permeable parking lot.  With the majority of our Depave Paradise projects being at schools, we’re used to planting trees, rain gardens, native plant gardens and outdoor education spaces, but this particular community group had a different idea in mind! In Fall 2017, residents from the North End community and Welcome Inn Community Centre – New Horizons Thrift Store partnered with Green Venture to Depave. The New Horizons Thrift Shop on James St. North was all broken asphalt and chipped compacted stone. Jen Kellner, Executive Director of Welcome Inn Community Centre and Suzanne Foreman, Manager of New Horizons brought the idea to life in partnership with Green Venture Depave Paradise coordinator, Laura Anderson. Several months of researching, planning, community engagement and volunteer recruitment went into the parking lot transformation project. The goal: create a permeable, sustainable and green parking lot that will be functional and environmentally friendly. With the help of contractors including Groundhog Excavation, Avesi Stormwater and Landscape Solutions, Fern Ridge Eco-Landscaping and LID Permeable Pavers, we came up with a plan to remove the asphalt, excavate out the compacted gravel and stone, add a drainage base layer of ¾ clear stone and high performance bedding, and lay down 2000 square feet of EcoRaster. Volunteers from the community came to help lay the EcoRaster, as the simple interlocking system easily fits together. We chose Ecoraster E50, a commercial grade permeable paver ideal for parking lots and driveways with snow conditions. The Ecoraster was filled with a mixture of premium garden soil and high performance bedding, custom mixed by The Dirt Depot, to provide drainage and soil for seeding. The permeable pavers have been seeded with clover, sheeps fescue and a mixture of eco lawn seeds. In the Spring, the community will reseed the system with creeping thyme and sedums. The secondary goal of this Depave Paradise project was parking lot beautification to increase pride in the North end. As a result we partnered with the Hamilton Tool Library to build 10 planter boxes that are installed along the back of the parking lot. Built by volunteers and planted with donations from the community including members of the Sunset Cultural Garden, these boxes will serve to add biodiversity and life to the parking lot. Over the course of the project, including our  volunteer planning committee, depave helpers, garden box builders and permeable paver installers, we had approximately 35 committed volunteers connected to the project.

 

Many thanks to the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund and City of Hamilton’s City Enrichment Fund for their funding support for this project.