A previously wild patch of forest next to Eagle View elementary resembles a landscaped section of park after being given some TLC by students.
With rustic wooden fences set up and pathways created, students planted a number of native species at the end of March, lending an almost professional look to the forest garden.
Spurred on and helped by Habitat Acquisition Trust land care co-ordinator Todd Carnahan and staff, students learned the names of the plants, how to help protect them and see them flourish.
“There’s lots of opportunity in that space to run around as well as let things grow and flourish,” says parent advisory council green committee chair Gillian Petrini, who spearheaded the project.
“It also fosters a different kind of play. It’s unpredictable and there’s so many different parts – natural materials are the best resources you can find.”
The project, started last September, involved children in various grades, with Grade 5 members of the school’s 24-member Green Team leading the replanting process.
“Mr. De Nat (Eagle View principal Brent) calls it out naturescape place,” says team member Hailey Lembcke. She adds the next set of plantings will likely include ferns.
Fellow Green teamer Megan Duraan enjoyed how the project involved younger students and older ones.
“We first put down mulch, then the younger kids dug the holes for the plants,” she says.
Asked if she has a favourite among the native plantings added to the forest, team member Jenna Peterson says the holly.
“But it’s actually called Oregon grape,” she says by way of clarification, noting as well that the plant won’t produce edible fruit. “I like all the plants and how pretty it’s going to look.”
De Nat says the project helps teach students to look at this previously wild outdoor play area as a sustainable ecosystem.
“It teaches them respect for property and respect for nature,” he says.
By participating in the development of the area, “they learn to take ownership in it.”
He sees the garden being a lasting part of the school grounds. The hope, he says, is to enhance it in future with such elements as benches and arbors.
“It’s going to be like a personal garden and it’s going to be constantly changing.”