From a 2003 vision, the Banff Trail’s “Le Circle Vert” and “ La Route à Banff” have become home to over 400 native and hardy plants, including 58 trees! Banff Trail’s naturalization project includes an amphitheater (pictured) and an interpretive trail that represents different Western Canadian biomes from the Prairie Grassland to the Rocky Mountain. Students from the school participated in contributing to the plans for the area and assisted in planting the shrubs and perennials. Banff Trail’s schoolyard is now pesticide-free, one of the first in the Calgary Board of Education!
One of the first Grounds for Change projects, a 1998 pilot project, “Wild Woods” -Wildwood School’s naturalization project – has grown to be a flourishing space of native flowers and trees, including the provincial Lodge Pole Pine and Wild Rose. Their vegetable gardens, composts, pathways, and forest offer students many places to learn and play. In an area approximately 45 m x 25 m, students enjoy planting vegetable and flower plugs and maintaining the space during Wild about Weeding program days.
Andrew Sibbald’s “Learning Grounds” began in 2009 and is now home to over 80 native trees and shrubs, including those with striking winter colour like the red osier dogwood and flame willow. Their many different plant species provide excellent teaching material for ethnobotanical studies. A bridge (photographed) overtop a dry riverbed allows the school to enjoy the feel of a wetland space without the challenge of maintaining and supervising a real water feature.
Olympic Heights has had great success in developing a space that is used by their whole community. Other nearby schools and adult community members often use the space for working on group projects or to host meetings. From a schoolyard that began as mostly dead grass, the space has transformed into a thriving environment with healthy indigenous plants, including a “native plant park”, “west garden”, “prairie circle” and “trembling aspen forest”. Students of the school worked hard to help create the space, becoming very dirty and thrilled of such during the process. The students’ “green leadership” is seen from the schoolyard to the inside of their classrooms through composting, recycling, and energy savers. The school does a great job of incorporating sustainable living into their teaching and teachers focus on using the space as a way of meeting the curriculum goals differently rather than thinking of the space as an add-on to their busy schedules. Some of the special features of the outdoor space at Olympic Heights are a wind turbine (photographed) and solar panels.
Alex Ferguson’s “Raingarden” debuted in 2008. Their garden is available to all with a handicap accessible design. Students of the school use the space for poetry and school project presentations. The “Raingarden” reflects the school’s belief that “learning should be joyous, active and meaningful” and is used by both students and community members. Their school mural, located in the naturalization area, was painted by a local Calgary artist and compliments the school’s strong arts program.
Alternative High School
Alternative High school built raised vegetable garden beds in 2009. Along with the occasional tasty treat, these 44 beds allow for discussions of sustainable farming, food origins, food production, and plant requirements. Vegetable beds can be a lot of work (higher watering needs than native plant gardens) but are excellent teaching tools for both elementary and high school classrooms. These beds are an especially great option for students who benefit from hands-on outdoor learning and are just one of the features that make Alternative High a special place for students.