We’re Looking For Alleys in Need of Some Love!

Do you know a Hamilton alleyway that could use some love? Green Venture has received funding through the Hamilton Future Fund to beautify and revitalize an alley and we need your help! We are looking for nominations of alleys, from any area of Hamilton, that would benefit from some TLC. We are also looking for enthusiastic project leads who want to help us spearhead this transformation. If this is you and you would like to nominate an alley please fill out our nomination form here. Deadline for nominations is Friday February 10, 2017.

EcoStars and Smoothie Bikes!


Is your class looking for a fun way to get started on the EcoStar Challenge?image-1
Why not book a Smoothie Bike Presentation for your class! A Green Venture staff person will visit your classroom with the Smoothie bike and some delicious ingredients to make your own smoothies. During the hour long presentation, we will lead the class in activities centred around understanding “local food” and “whole food”, before having the class pedal their own smoothie. We will give a brief overview to the EcoStar Challenge program, answer any questions you may have, and leave some EcoStar material with you. In addition, participating in the Smoothie Bike Presentation automatically enters your class into the grand prize draw for the EcoStar Challenge!

If you are interested in having the Smoothie Bike visit your classroom, please contact Green Venture to discuss cost and availability, at education@greenventure.ca

Hear what one teacher had to say about their smoothie bike experience:

image“What a thrill having the Smoothie Bike in my classroom. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I can confidently say I was pleasantly surprised…and so was my class! The bike was so easy to operate; the kids had no problem blending up the smoothies. The presentation by Green Venture was engaging and informative. We were particularly interested to learn about the differences between processed smoothies and whole food smoothies…a great connection to the healthy eating curriculum. We also learned about locally and non-locally grown fruits and vegetables and how shipping of fruits and vegetables impacts the environment. Fortunately, we were able to keep the bike for a few days and tried smoothies with spinach and avocado. We culminated our Smoothie Bike visit with an inquiry all about the different smoothie ingredients we were using. I wish I could have a Smoothie Bike all year long!”

-Grade 5/6 Teacher, Fessenden Elementary School, Hamilton
 

More beautiful alleys will be coming to Hamilton!

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Green Venture has received funding from the Hamilton Future Fund to expand upon the success of the WestMill alley project and revitalize additional alleys. In 2015, Green Venture teamed up with various neighbourhood groups to beautify the ‘WestMill alley’, located between Westinghouse Ave. and Milton Ave., north of Barton street. Over 130 native species were planted, birdhouses were added, a mural was painted with the help of local artists, and solar lighting was installed to increase pedestrian safety. An official call for proposals will go out in January 2017, but if you have an alleyway in mind that could use some TLC, please get in touch with Erinn at erinn.todd@greenventure.caimg_3699

 

Calling all Gardeners: Organic Master Gardener course in Hamilton

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Canadian Organic Growers (COG) has partnered with Gaia College to offer the Organic Master Gardener course in Hamilton. Designed for those interested in maintaining bountiful food and ornamental gardens and lawns without the use of pesticides, students have described this course as “life-changing”, allowing them to see the important connections between soil, plant, humans, and environmental health. This comprehensive and popular course attracts everyone from backyard gardeners to landscape architects, covering topics such as soil health, water-wise gardening, and composting! The Hamilton course runs weekly from January 19 to April 20.

Course Details

Dates: Thursdays, January 19 to April 20

Time: 6:15 – 9:00 pm

Location: The Perkins Centre, 1429 Main St. Hamilton

Cost: $740+HST SAVE $50 when you register before December 16 with Discount Code HamiltonOMG

For more details and to register please visit http://www.cog.ca/our-services/OMG/

To registration or find more information about this, and other courses offered by COG please check out our website at www.cog.ca or give us a call at 1-888- 375-7383.

Who should take the Organic Master Gardener Course?

  • Community Gardeners and Community Garden Coordinators
  • Backyard Gardeners
  • Landscapers
  • Local food advocates
  • Organic farmers
  • Teachers and food education coordinators
  • Anyone who enjoys growing and eating their own food without the use of pesticides and chemicals

EcoStars It’s Time to Shine!

The EcoStar Challenge is underway! As of November 1st, we have 167 students who have participated in an EcoStar Challenge, and been entered into our grand prize draw.  What a great start to the school year.  eco-stars-blog

Can I let you in on the Big Idea behind the EcoStars Challenge? We want to know what Hamilton teachers and students are doing to live more sustainably, and we want to share those ideas with other teachers and students. We want to create a space where we can celebrate each other’s success (“good job planting a rain garden!”) and learn from each other (“I didn’t know you could recycle markers; we should do that at our school!”).  Every time a class completes a challenge, and that info goes on the climate change map, it gives inspiration to another class somewhere else in the city.  Whether you choose to complete one of the awesome Challenges on our website, or do a different environmental action, we would love to hear about it at Green Venture. That allows us to share all these great ideas and actions with all the schools we work with.

This week Green Venture will be visiting Cable 14 to talk about the EcoStars Challenge, and give some simple ideas of Challenges for classes to complete. Check our YouTube channel later in the month to watch the video and be inspired! 

Hold the Date: September 16, 2017- Uproot Hamilton

Yes, we are looking ahead to 2017… Green Venture is pleased to set the date for the next Uproot event on Saturday, September 16, 2017. Join us again for a mouth-watering food-tasting event at the EcoHouse, featuring local chefs and caterers, locally sourced ingredients, and more. If you are a chef or caterer interested in showcasing your creations at the 2017 Uproot event, please contact us at 905-540-8787 x117 or email contact@greenventure.ca

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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

Free transit workshops and guided bus trips

Connecting Older Adults with Public Transit

Hamilton – Totally Transit for Older Adults is back!  The popular program, which helps older adults take full advantage of Hamilton’s transit system, will once again be presented by Green Venture, a local non-profit environmental outreach organization.  Four free workshops are being offered at locations around Greater Hamilton in October and November covering such topics as local bus routes, bus fares and passes, seniors’ discounts and trip planning.  The worLets ride the bus oct 24 _121024 vs 012kshops equip participants with the knowledge and skills to navigate public transit confidently and efficiently.  The program is also expanding into Niagara Region, where three workshops will be held.

Each workshop lasts roughly an hour, and includes a 45-minute presentation followed by an optional demonstration for internet users showing how Google Maps can be used in trip planning.  There will also be an opportunity for workshop participants to request bus trip planning to two destinations.  Green Venture staff will mail participants step-by-step instructions for a round trip visit to each destination. Continue reading

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

 

Heritage of EcoHouse: dormant, but not forgotten

In honour of the National Trust Conference: Heritage Rising, held this past weekend in Hamilton, GV Executive Director, Michael Gemmell, offers some thoughts on Green Venture’s EcoHouse and its links to the past.

“I came to Green Venture in 2007 after working in the museum field for a decade. My original task when I was hired for Green Venture was to determine how to integrate the EcoHouse’s heritage shell into the existing programming. I hoped to put some new emphasis on the backstory of the site (historically referred to as “Glen Manor”), and specifically how it tied in to the concept of Adaptive Reuse.

Green Venture’s underlying environmental messaging is all about wisely using resources, whether that is energy, water, proper waste disposal, reduced inappropriate fuels in transportation, or greenhouse gas reduction through climate change education. The heritage property, known today as EcoHouse, has 165+ years of invested resources in all of those areas, and the key link to be made was the fact that is: were we (the community, the City, or even just GV) to eliminate this heritage property, all of that invested energy and resources would be lost. A much smaller amount of resources could instead be invested in maintaining the existing property (albeit with modifications to bring it into the modern era) and still respect the intention of its 1986 heritage designation.

While most of the time, Green Venture only pays limited attention to the backstory of its office and education centre, there are occasions when the heritage comes to the fore. Doors Open Hamilton weekend, the first Saturday and Sunday in May, is one such example. Every year, Green Venture shows off what new historical research has discovered about the site.  A variety of small artifacts remain at the house, although with a digital photo collection.

Some recent examples:

  • A small medicine bottle, located on the grounds, from the early 20th centurymedicine-bottle
  • Milk tickets from the 1960s dairy operation.glendale-dairy-ticket-sheets
  • A photo of Quigley Construction Company from a descendant of the Quigley family, the namesake of the road off of which modern Veevers Drive runs.           bill-marshall-and-quigley-construction-c1930

Our staff also take some pride in the unique circumstances of our office. The names of the former occupants of the house, Ronald and Bertram Veevers, are incorporated into room names. As part of our environmental education programming, their use of the property is contrasted to the modern use in a number of areas, inside and out. Green Venture also works to maintain a nearby park where a near duplicate of a commemorative stone found at Glen Manor can be seen. In 2014, Green Venture added a historical mural to the park commemorating the history of the former farm, which at one time included both our site and the park.

Completed Veevers Park mural, painted by Jotthi Bansal

Completed Veevers Park mural, painted by Jotthi Bansal

Today as director, my role has changed again. I am now more focused on the environmental aspects of our work than the historical elements, but the fascinating evolution of EcoHouse and the surrounding community into which it was constructed remains a item of significance.”