Schoolyard Naturalization

Schoolyard naturalization is the process of using local plant material to create an area of structural and botanical diversity within the grounds of a school for educational, social and environmental benefits.

Compared to typical turf-based schoolyards, native plant and vegetable gardens encourage student creativity, stimulate senses, provide natural encounters with local wildlife, and can shelter students from the elements.

Why native plants?

Native plants, plants indigenous to the area and grown within a 50 – 100 km radius, are low maintenance and more attractive to local wildlife including small insects or mammals. They also provide a way to connect students to local history and ecology.

Why vegetable gardens?

Vegetable gardens help students develop healthy eating habits and provide them with an opportunity to try new fresh foods. They can also discover food sources and learn how different plants grow and the dedicated work required to produce a meal.

Benefits of schoolyard naturalization:

Educational

Instant field trip
Diverse landscape for hands-on, cross-curricular learning
Material for scientific observations
Location, materials and inspiration for art, drama and language arts activities
Participation in real-life decision-making
Awareness of healthy eating and nutrition
Study of plant life cycles and adaptions to the local environment

Environmental

Improved aesthetics
Increased biodiversity
Increased habitat for local wildlife and insects
Reduction of air and noise pollution
Source of shade, UV protection, wind block
Improved water and soil retention
Reduced soil compaction
Opportunity to reduce reliance on pesticides and herbicides

Social

Opportunities for safer, more creative and spontaneous play
Reduction of anti-social behaviour on school grounds
Increased student ownership and pride in their school
Growing sense of community within the school and the surrounding area through volunteer help, summer maintenance and the sharing of rewards
Lessons in cooperation and teamwork
Sense of achievement as students watch their own plants grow
Gained appreciation of Agricultural businesses
Opportunities for urban-based families to interact with local ecosystems
Appreciation for the neeeds of all life and the interconnectedness of the world
Promotion of environmentally friendly gardening practices and techniques

 

Watch the following to hear about the impact on school communities: