Archive for the ‘EcoHouse’ Category

Meet the EcoStar Summer Camp Staff

Green Venture is getting ready for their first EcoStar camp! With topics like Bugs & Blooms, H2Whoa that’s a lot of Water, and EcoExplorers, campers are sure to learn new skills and an appreciation for the environment around them.  As camp director I’m excited to introduce our two camp counselors Bright Eyes and Dandy.

 

A message from Bright Eyes:

Hi everyone!

My name is Bright Eyes, I’m the Environmental Programs Assistant and Camp Counsellor for EcoStars! I’m so excited to meet all of my campers and spend my time in the great outdoors. I’ve been living in Hamilton for three years now and can’t get enough of the hiking and waterfalls; needless to say, I’m pretty stoked for our hiking trips. When not hanging from the side of a tree you can find me in our crafts room (where the magic happens). I’m hoping to kick-start some really awesome art projects this summer, and will definitely need some campers that aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty.

I study science at McMaster, and have fronted some neat science projects at past camps. I’m really excited to bring these experiments to EcoStars, and add an environmental twist!

Although I am new to the Green Venture family this year, I already feel accepted and proud to be working with such environmentally-forward individuals. I’m now even more excited to welcome our campers aboard, and cannot wait for camp to begin!

 

Staff Pic Bright eyes

 

 

A message from Dandy:

Hi there!

My name is Dandy and I am super happy to be a part of the EcoStars camp this summer! I study science at McMaster so I love to analyse things and figure out exactly how they work. I am especially stoked for the “Bugs and Blooms” week because I like learning about how animals, insects, and plants interact with each other. My favorite tree is the Willow tree and my favourite animal is the Cheetah. I am an avid hiker, paddler, and skier. I recently started bird watching and I hope to learn some bird calls during the time spent outdoors at the camp.

I first became interested in the idea of sustainable living when I saw An Inconvenient Truth as a kid. Being a counselor at EcoStars camps gives me great chance to share my knowledge concerning sustainability to the leaders of tomorrow all while having a blast in the great outdoors!

Dandy Pic

The camp takes place at EcoHouse in east Hamilton, and there is a cost of $175+hst per week.  For more information or to register, visit greenventure.ca, email education@greenventure.ca, or call 905-540-8787 x154.

 

Hope to see you all at camp

Virginia

Green Spring Cleaning

Are you looking for a way to clean your home from top to bottom, with items you already have in your kitchen?  We asked the staff for their top tips and tricks for Spring Cleaning, using no chemicals or toxic ingredients.

Kathryn

Combining baking soda and vinegar is like magic.  I use it to unclog (or prevent clogs) to my drains.  Just pour ¾ baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup of white vinegar.  Let it sit for 30 minutes, and then pour a full kettle of boiling water.  Works like a dream, and it reminds me of making volcano science projects when I was kid – the reaction between the baking soda and vinegar is fun to watch!

Michael

Vinegar and water are my go to cleaner.  I mix equal parts together, and it works well to clean glass, floors, counter tops, or any other non-porous surfaces.  If you need a bit of extra muscle when cleaning the bathroom, just add a bit of borax (not for mirrors or glass though).IMG_4177

Virginia

I do a lot of cooking and baking, so I find I need to clean my oven fairly frequently.  My favourite trick is to sprinkle baking soda all over the floor of the oven, and then spray it with water until it’s damp.  I walk away for a few hours, and then use vinegar to help remove any residue left behind.  No scrubbing needed – this is really easy!IMG_4145ps

Deirdre

Lemon juice and olive oil work really well to polish wood and furniture.  Mix equal parts, and then gently polish with a soft cloth.  It lasts for a few weeks and makes wood look shiny and new (and smells great!). Olive oil is really great for removing those pesky smudges and dirt from stainless steel too!IMG_4170ps

Julia

I have a few tricks for air fresheners.  Simmering cinnamon sticks on the stove make the whole house smell like you are baking a fresh apple pie.  Or, another easy trick is to sprinkle essential oils on a few cotton balls, and stash these in the corner of a room.  Just make sure it’s out of reach of children and pets.IMG_4156ps

 

Do you have a tip or trick we haven’t mentioned here?  Tell us about it in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!

Four Shades of Green

An update on our grass alternative beds

EcoHouse is getting greener — four shades greener to be exact!  Last summer we established four small test plots for different types of lawn alternatives, right in our own front yard.  We wanted to understand the benefits of each type firsthand, and be able to show visitors exactly how each would turn out.  This has been an exciting project right from the get-go.  There was much debate amongst staff and board as to which alternatives we should choose, and the four finalists that made it into the exhibit were:

White Clover
EcoAlternative
EcoLawn
Elfin Thyme

White Clover, EcoLawn, and EcoAlternative were planted as seeds.  The Elfin Thyme was purchased in small established plugs.

After the first month, White Clover and EcoAlternative were off to a great start.  They sprouted up quickly and established well.  Hardly any weeding was needed, as the growth happened so quickly.  Both were lush and green, and needed to be mowed within a few weeks.  On the other hand, the EcoLawn and Thyme were growing very slowly, and in constant need of weeding and attention.

By the end of the summer, we were paying more attention to the EcoLawn.  It had filled in to be thick and dense, and the vibrant green colour was particularly appealing.  Aside from some early weeding (ok, a lot of early weeding), maintenance on this plot has been low and we haven’t needed to mow at all over the whole summer.

As for the Elfin Thyme, it is still too early to tell how it will fare in relation to the others.  We’ve spent the summer weeding because the plugs that we started with haven’t spread very far, and we expect it will take another two years or so until we see it filled in.  On the plus side, because of its low profile, we know this one won’t need any mowing, ever.

A quick staff poll indicates that the favourite so far is clover.

Stay tuned for an update in the spring of 2016, and we’ll let you know how each of the alternatives fared through the cold weather.

 

UpRoot Hamilton – Green Venture’s 20th Anniversary Celebration

uproot1Every now and again we need to be challenged and motivated to get out of our routines and try out new ideas and experiences, finding ourselves UpRooted! On October 3rd Green Venture hosted it’s first ever fundraiser, pulling up its own roots and trying new things to grow as an organization. What a success it was! Despite the strong winds, rain and unseasonably cool temperatures, people came out to help  celebrate 20 years of environmental outreach and education in the Hamilton community and donate  to help keep Green Venture going strong for the next 20 years!

It was a lively event with local food from Eat Industries Inc, Wild Thyme Catering, Ya Man Carribean Cuisine and Ramped Up Catering – all selected for their passion for local ingredients and the community. Conversations were buzzing amongst the selection of local wine and craft beer as uproot2Hamiltonians chatted with friends, old and new. Of course we couldn’t resist the urge to teach something, we are Green Venture after all! Patrons engaged in educational (and fun!) games on waste, water and living sustainably with our Education Coordinator Virginia. The heritage tour was extremely popular!  Attendee’s had the chance to learn what makes Ecohouse such a unique location for Green Venture, with stories of the building’s rich history and behind the scenes historical tidbits.

A HUGE thank you to all who attended UpRoot Hamilton on October 3rd!uproot3 The support from volunteers, staff, board members, and the community truly demonstrates what can be done when people come together. I am new to Hamilton myself and am constantly inspired by the engagement, energy and connectedness of this dynamic community. For those of you who missed it don’t worry, there are already plans in motion for our next fundraising event!

Cheers Green Venture; here’s to 20 more fantastic years!

Celebrating 20 Years: A Look Back

Green Venture officially began operating in 1995, making 2015 our 20th anniversary. Although we’ll be marking this special occasion with an amazing event called UpRoot Hamilton (which you can read more about), we’ve also taken the time to think about our past 20 years, and the amazing journey we’ve been on as we try to make Hamilton and area the most environmentally friendly place to live, one day, and one action, at a time.

Here are some of our highlights.

1994- Green Venture is founded as part of a provincial “Green Communities Program” under the direction of the Region of Hamilton-Wentworth.

1995- Jackson square GV office

Green Venture’s Jackson Square Storefront location. Yes, we do still have that neon sign!

1995- A Jackson Square storefront becomes Green Venture’s first office space.

1996- Following the cancellation of the “Green Communities” program, Green Venture becomes an independent not-for-profit organization, hiring Heather Donison as its new Executive Director.

2000- In partnership with the Hamilton Air Quality Improvement Committee, Green Venture launches the Region’s first annual Commuter Challenge.

2003- Green Venture secures the use of the Veevers Estate in Hamilton’s East End and begins renovations to transform the space into an environmental education and demonstration centre.

The first welcome sign to the EcoHouse Community Garden.

The first welcome sign to the EcoHouse Community Garden.

2005- The EcoHouse Community Garden is established as a prototype garden for the region. Its popularity encourages over 70 other community gardens to be created city-wide over the next several years.

2007- After six years as a staff member, Pete Wobschall becomes Green Venture’s Executive Director. During his tenure, he guides the organization through the development of a revised mission, vision and values.

2008- Solar panels and a wind turbine are installed onsite at EcoHouse, allowing visitors to explore the pros and cons of installing alternative energy at their own home.

2009- The Enbridge Home Weatherization Retrofit Program is launched. With a goal of assisting residents in reducing their energy bills while improving the efficiency of their home, it quickly becomes one of Green Venture’s most in-demand programs.

2010- The first Seedy Saturday event is launched. Today, the event, co-hosted by Green Venture and the Hamilton Community Garden Network, attracts hundreds of eager gardeners each winter.

2011- With assistance from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Bay Area Restoration Council and Green Venture create an easy-to-access education centre focusing on Hamilton Harbour Watershed issues.

Kathryn Enders, Green Venture's current Executive Director, with one of our newest displays- an electric CarShare car!

Kathryn Enders, Green Venture’s current Executive Director, with one of our newest displays- a plug-in hybrid CarShare car!

2013- Kathryn Enders is hired as Green Venture’s Executive Director. In the same year, she travels to Mexico on behalf of Green Communities Canada to present at the Commission for Environmental Co-operation about the success of the Depave program.

2014- EcoHouse Educational Tours increase by 19% from the previous year, solidifying Green Venture’s place as the region’s premiere environmental demonstration and education facility.

2015- Green Venture completes their participation in the Good To Great program, leading to a renewed emphasis on revenue diversification, including the launch of special fundraising events and donor campaigns.

Are you UpRooted?

Green eggs and ham may not be on the menu, but Hamilton’s first social food market will still be turning green this Fall.

UpRoot Hamilton, a fundraiser celebrating Green Venture’s 20th Anniversary will feature local chefs, local ingredients and the impact that eating local can have on the environment. Attendees to the October 3 event will be able to sample locally sourced and inspired food dishes that come from equally unique vendors, many of whom do not yet have an actual storefront location in the city.

“The reputation of Hamilton’s food scene is really taking off,” said Green Venture’s Executive Director Kathryn Enders. “We’re excited to celebrate rising chefs with this event, as well as showcase just how easy- and delicious- it can be to eat locally and reduce your environmental footprint in the process.”

A side view of Green Venture's historic EcoHouse site.

A side view of Green Venture’s historic EcoHouse site.

The venue for UpRoot Hamilton, Green Venture’s EcoHouse, is just as unique as the food that will be served. An 1850s stone farmhouse, Green Venture has converted the property to be a complete environmental education and demonstration center of sustainable living that attracts over 10,000 individuals each year. As part of UpRoot Hamilton, Green Venture will be opening its gates for attendees to tour the two acre property and farmhouse as they sample the evening’s culinary delights.

Green Venture, Hamilton’s premiere environmental education not-for-profit organization, is dedicated to finding long-lasting, positive and practical ways to make Hamilton and the Golden Horseshoe region the most environmentally-friendly place to be, every single day.

UpRoot Hamilton, the organization’s 20th Anniversary Celebration will be held October 3rd, 2015 from 5-10:30pm at EcoHouse (22 Veevers Drive). For more information, or to purchase tickets, please visit www.greenventure.ca.

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

Written by: Jessie Golem

This week, we updated the green roof demo at EcoHouse with some Sedums! A green roof or living roof is a roof of a

Sedums

Sedums

building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. Green roofs are a beautiful and cost-efficient way to conserve energy, manage storm water, and insulate a building.

Sedums are a shallow-rooted ground cover plant. They have thick leaves that retain a lot of water, making it drought resistant, and they require at least eight hours of sunlight per day, which makes it a perfect plant to install on a green roof.

The benefits of green roofs have been undisputed for several decades. Here

EcoHouse Green Roof

EcoHouse Green Roof

are just some of the benefits they can bring to our cities:

Green roofs are environmentally friendly

Green roofs create oxygen and combat pollutants. Filling a city with green roofs would go a long way to combating the pollution caused by cities, as well as beautify the space. In fact, some large corporations, including Rolls-Royce, and Nintendo of America, have over 75,000 square feet of Sedums covering their rooftops! It’s a great way to use a space that was otherwise not being used, in a way that helps the environment.

Green roofs conserve energy

One of the biggest benefits to having a green roof is that they help to regulate temperatures within a building. They are well insulated, which helps to keep buildings warm in the winter, and also absorb heat and cool down buildings naturally in the summer. In the long run it is a low cost way to reduce energy consumption and save money on your utility

bills.

Green roofs are excellent at managing storm water

A Sedum roof will absorb a lot of water in a rainfall, and in doing so, will significantly reduce the surface run off of a rainfall. Green roofs also naturally filter the water which will improve the water quality, to the point where the run-off rainwater could be used for other purposes (i.e. a flushing toilet)

The list of benefits to having a green roof is a lengthy one. We hope the next time you visit EcoHouse, you will take some time to check out our green roof demo, and dream of the ways green roofs beautify cities, save energy, and help the environment.

Green Wall Tokyo

Green Wall Tokyo

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