Depave Paradise: Dundas community transforming schoolyard into vibrant, green learning space

Yorkview Elementary School students, parents and members of the community, in partnership with Green Venture, removed 172m2 of old asphalt by hand on Saturday, September 29 as the first step in their schoolyard revitalization.  Local MPP Sandy Shaw and Anne Tennier, an Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) volunteer, were on hand to see how a three-year, $740,000 province-wide OTF grant awarded earlier this year is starting to have an impact. This funding will support 36 projects by 2020.  Other cities who will be leading Depave Paradise projects in Ontario include Peterborough, Kitchener-Waterloo, Thunder Bay, Collingwood, Kingston, Ottawa, Mississauga and York Region.

“Thanks to the funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, transformational environmental projects across our Province and right here in Dundas are made possible,” said Sandy Shaw, MPP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas. “It is truly inspiring to see what can be accomplished when students along with community partners work together to enrich where we live, work and play.”

The revitalized schoolyard offers benefits to both students and the broader community including greater biodiversity, reduced storm water run-off and cleaner water. Designed in consultation with the students and community, support from this Yorkview Elementary School Depave project was generously provided by OTF through Green Communities Canada, the Raingers Rain Garden partnership project with Bay Area Restoration Council and Dougher Community Fund and Tree Canada Greening Canada’s School Ground.

The new space will include two storm water management rain and pollinator gardens, native trees and shrubs, naturalized seating areas, and cedar garden boxes for each classroom. The input of more than 150 students and members of the community informed the garden design.

“This depave project has been a great journey for our school so far, says Brian Gauthier, leader of the Stewardship Team of Yorkview’s Parent Council, “It has been an opportunity to draw on the amazing and diverse talent we have across our school community. When we are done, Yorkview will have this amazing monument to the passion and skill of our community that will educate and delight our students.”

Managing storm water more effectively is a key element in the green space design. Hard impermeable urban surfaces like asphalt interrupt the natural water cycle by preventing rain water from soaking into the ground. When rainwater flows over pavement it picks up a wide range of polluting materials, including motor oil, anti-freeze, tire residue, pet waste and cigarette butts. Green spaces help filter and absorb polluted storm water.

Many partners from the community have committed in-kind support including Groundhog Excavation, Dougan & Associates, Play Think, Brent J Clark Designs, Turksta Lumber, City of Hamilton Urban Forestry and many parents, community members, school administration and teachers.

And coming up on Saturday, October 13th between 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., the Dundas school community will plant hundreds of native plants and trees, build garden boxes and create a new environmental learning and play space. Volunteers are needed! This family friendly event is happening rain or shine! Please dress for the weather and be ready to get your hands dirty! Don’t forget to wear sturdy, closed shoes. Reusable water bottles and gloves are encouraged! Everyone is welcome to help to transform this paved area into a beautiful, functional garden that will encourage people to recognize the benefits of protecting water and air quality for human health.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded more than $120 million to some 700 projects this year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario. www.otf.ca

 

For more information, please contact:

Laura Anderson, Program Coordinator, Green Venture 905‐540‐8787, Ext. 158   laura.anderson@greenventure.ca

Green Venture is a community-based, non-profit organization committed to helping Hamilton-area residents live more sustainably where they live, work, and play.

www.greenventure.ca    Twitter: @Green_Venture    Facebook: GreenVentureHamilton

Photos by: fehn foss www.fehnfoss.com + Alejandro www.instagram.com/onelooseboot

Goodbye to our wonderful summer students!

The end of summer is a bittersweet time for the students here at Green Venture. On the one hand, we
are all moving on to another year of interesting studies, but are sad to see the summer end. We’ve all
had such an incredible time here at Green Venture. The opportunity to gain work experience in a field
we are all interested in, before even being done our degrees, was both valuable and enjoyable. We all
gained varied knowledge in all the sectors Green Venture explores, from composting, to energy
conservation, to education. In addition to this, to be employed at EcoHouse was both interesting and
rewarding – the opportunity to see these innovative changes for environmental sustainability in action is
not available at all workplaces. Between the office work and camp, being employed as Environmental
Programs Assistants was a diverse and valuable experience.
The camp was a learning experience for both us and our campers; we all grew as people and EcoStars!
To be able to see kids who came to camp start to be aware of their environmental footprint, and try to
make more conscious decisions was a wonderful experience. Though kids can be a handful, in the end
it’s a really rewarding experience to be able to work with them. Everyone enjoyed hands on crafts like
seed bombs, running games like foxes and rabbits, big nature hikes, and the variety of fun field trips we
went on. We still laugh about some of the things the kids said. They also taught us a few things too! To
be able to teach and learn from kids who come from various backgrounds was one of the best parts of
the job.
Overall, our experience working with Green Venture was memorable and valuable. It was a wonderful
way to spend the summer, and hopefully we’ll be back next year!
Guppy, Panda, Bear, Hawk eye and Dragonfly

Creepy Crawlers came to Eco House!

Creepy crawlers came to Eco House for a visit during week two of camp with Safari Science. The campers did better better than me, I could barely be in the same room with some of the crawlers.  The campers however were brave and actually held them. We also had fun swimming at Sir Wilfred recreation’s pool. I enjoyed the walk to the pool and running into another camp and we had a battle of who sang the best camp songs! The last day of camp all the campers got a reusable straw to help eliminate  one time plastic uses as straws aren’t even recyclable.
Snow

Welcome Guppy!

Hello everyone!

I’m Victoria or as the campers will know me Guppy, I’m one of the newest Environmental Program assistants hired for the summer of 2018. When I first came to the Green Venture’s Eco House for the seedling sale in May, I had no idea I would have such an awesome opportunity to work here over the summer. I was amazed with all the environmental education set up around the house alone and I thought to myself this place would be perfect for me to get some REAL work experience in the field I’m studying. I asked if there was any last minute hiring and to my surprise there was. When I came for my interview I was stoked just to be in the Eco House again!

I’m a student at the University of Guelph studying Environmental Management. Just last semester in a project course my friends and I designed a fully sustainable high-school. It was so exciting to come to the Green Venture’s Eco House and see so many of the aspects that we had implemented in our school put to work here. For example, the solar panels that provide energy to be used or sold to the government for use, the grey water toilet which recycles water, the insulation used in the Eco House that allows for energy savings in heating and cooling and even the green roof.

I have worked in several rec positions with children and adults, including some summer camps that involved animal welfare and environmental education programs and planning! I believe that teaching children about the environment at an early age can really create a greener future. I’m super excited to work with the Eco star summer camp, and to create some fun programs for the kids that will teach all about ecological practices through some hands on activities.

There’s still spots available for camp sign up today!!!

Our camp weeks run 9 to 4:

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

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