Archive for the ‘Green Gardening’ 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

R.A. Riddell School is going on a Green Venture

May 19, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

R.A. RIDDELL ELEMENTARY IS GOING ON A GREEN VENTURE

HAMILTON, ON – DEPAVE PARADISE (www.depaveparadise.ca) projects engage volunteers and neighbourhoods in communities across Canada, removing pavement and planting gardens filled with native species in its place. On May 28th and June 4th, Green Venture, R.A. Riddell Elementary School, partners and local residents will be hosting Hamilton’s 3rd Depave Paradise event to transform part of the school’s asphalt playground into a beautiful garden for the community to enjoy.

FROM PAVEMENT TO PARADISE!

“Hard surfaces, such as driveways, parking lots and buildings, interrupt the natural water cycle by preventing rain water from soaking into the ground” says Deirdre Connell, Depave Paradise Program Manager at Green Venture. “This in turn leads to flooding, poor water quality, and creates urban heat islands that are warming up our cities. By removing pavement and replacing it with green space, we are increasing the infiltration rate of rain water, cooling our neighbourhoods, keeping our water clean, and providing us and our children with greater connections to the natural world”.

Bring your family and friends, young and old, and join R.A. Riddell and partners transform the schoolyard pavement into a vibrant and engaging green space for all to enjoy! “Community gardening and beautification projects like these are proven to increase sense of community ownership and stewardship, foster the development of community identity, bring people with various background together to work on a common goal, and help build community leaders” says Connell.

Volunteers are needed! This is a family friendly event and all are welcome. We will provide all necessary tools and safety equipment as well as food and drink for all volunteers. Please arrive dressed for the weather (Rain or Shine!), wearing sturdy closed-toe shoes and be ready to get your hands dirty.

For more information about how you can get involved, visit http://j.mp/depave-riddell or contact Deirdre Connell, Program Manager at Green Venture at 905-540-8787 x 113 or deirdre.connell@greenventure.ca.

Funding and support for this project has been provided by the RBC Blue Water Project, EcoSpark, Green Communities Canada, Intact Financial Corporation and the Small Change Fund.

30-­

For more information, please contact:

Deirdre Connell Program Manager, Green Venture 905-­540-­8787, Ext. 113

deirdre.connell@greenventure.ca

 

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.

 

My Green Venture Internship: Lessons Learned

Hi! My name’s Areeba and I’ve just completed a seven week placement at Green Venture. I have learned many different things during the past seven weeks through my position as a green gardener where I assist with the maintenance of the many gardens and facilities present on the property.

During the weeks of my placement I can confidently say that I know how to successfully identify many plants and weeds, use various gardening tools (like a lawn mower), and paint skillfully. Sometimes, like many outdoor jobs, the weather turns on us. When I am indoors, I help keep the displays organized and up-to-date, organize materials, and assist with other tasks around the office. I also had the chance to participate in numerous road trips like a visit to a local farm with other staff.

Being a green gardener has provided me with extensive knowledge of environmental issues and initiatives, and the opportunity to take part in the solutions. For example, I helped to build the new green roof at EcoHouse. Green Roofs are a cost-efficient way to save energy, manage storm water, and insulate the building. This was an eye-opening experience that prompted me to think about the other green initiatives in the Hamilton community.

EcoHouse Green Roof

EcoHouse Green Roof

I have gained valuable experience and skills while working at Green Venture. Before working here I had no real understanding of the issues that are present in our city and in the community. By communicating with the talented and educated program staff and coworkers, I gained thorough insight about various environmental topics and going green together!

Written by: Areeba

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

Adventures in Turtle Rescue

Written by: Ashley Keenan

Every now and again things happen unexpectedly that can provide surprise opportunities for environmentalism in daily life.

The Rescued Turtle Eggs

The Rescued Turtle Eggs

This lesson was quickly learned by Green Venture’s Garden Coordinator Julia Shulist when preparing to launch the Riverdale Community Garden Project. Peeking out of a large mound of soil were tiny turtle eggs! Being the environmentally conscious and animal loving type of person she is, all work was stopped until Julia could figure out what to do with these little guys. Through contacting the Ministry of Natural Resources we were pointed to a volunteer based, non-profit animal rescue in our area that focuses on native Ontario Wildlife that had recently added Snapping Turtles to their list of animals eligible to be assisted!

It should be noted that Snapping Turtles are a protected species, and in almost all cases (as with all protected species), should not be moved from their habitat, or where the eggs have been laid. However, in this situation; a very public, open garden still under construction where the eggs were deemed to be at serious risk, a rare exception was made to move the turtles to a safer place. And to move them as quickly as possible so that the eggs would have the best possible chance to thrive.

Within an hour, trained volunteers were extracting eggs from our mountain of soil. No easy feat with the abundance of rain we’ve had, which caused the soil to start collapsing as eggs were removed. By the end of the retrieval, 32 eggs had been removed and placed into a secure container, later to be transferred to an incubator. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that they continue to develop and hatch in the fall!

Did You Know? – There are 8 species of turtle in Ontario and 7 of those are considered at risk, of special concern or are listed as endangered

Ontario Snapping Turtles 101

After our experience in turtle rescue we thought it might be a good idea to let people know what to do if they run into a similar situation. turtles primarily lay eggs from May-June so you never know what you might find! Here is a crash course in why Ontario snapping turtles are at risk and how you can help.

Dangers

  • Species at risk – Snapping turtles were added to the list in 2009 under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act classified as a ‘species of special concern’ meaning they are vulnerable to extinction
  • Hunting – Despite their vulnerable status it is still legal to hunt snapping turtles in the province of Ontario. Hunters with a valid license can hunt 2 turtles a day with a maximum of 5 in your possession at a time. Hunters go for the largest turtles which unfortunately are also the most fertile. With breeding already an issue and a lack of monitoring done on turtle populations, hunting can potentially remove all the viable breeding turtles over time
  • Illegal poaching – while it is legal to hunt snapping turtles in Ontario many people don’t want to abide by the hunting rules, seasons, and bag limits around hunting turtles, and resort to illegal poaching
  • Road Crossing – most human related deaths to snapping turtles are caused by being hit by cars when crossing a road. With so much habitat loss and increased urbanization there are few safe passages for these slow moving creatures
  • Breeding – snapping turtles don’t become viable breeders until 20 years of age. Late breeding ages and natural predators raiding nests leave very few birthing successes in the wild
  • Habitat Loss – Wetlands are the snapping turtles main habitat; 70% of the wetlands in Southern Ontario are gone due to development

How to Help

  • Report a Sighting to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry – include GPS coordinates and photos when possible
  • Careful Driving – watch out for turtle crossings! They are very slow and cannot get out of the way of oncoming traffic. Pay extra attention from May – October when they are mating and nesting
  • Report Illegal activity – If someone is poaching on your property or on public lands contact the Ministry of Natural Resoruces (MNR) 1-877-TIPS-MNR
  • Call your MPP and ask them to support the ban on hunting snapping turtles
  • If you come across a nesting area, don’t try to move the nest yourself; call the MNR to find a licensed animal rescuer, such as the Hobbitstee or The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC), in your area. If you’re not sure where to start check out http://www.ontariowildliferescue.ca/

Whether it is turtle rescue or something entirely different each day can provide us with chances to make a difference; even when slightly inconvenient. Has anything happened to you that allowed you to let your environmentalism shine through? Leave us a comment!

Baby Turtles

Baby Turtles

Small Bites, Big Change _Riverdale Garden Project

Kale Chips - made by Children from  Riverdale Neighborhood cooking classes

Kale Chips – made by children from Riverdale garden project

Empowering Riverdale’s Food Security was Green Venture’s latest project to integrate education, health, recreation and the environment.
Funded by the Community Foundation, this project included a series of nine cooking classes delivered over six weeks that paired local food, agriculture and gardening themed recipes and activities.
Green Venture staff initially experienced frustration locating a suitable space for holding these classes. This challenge ended up leading Green Venture to a fantastic opportunity: a first-time collaboration with the City of Hamilton’s Riverdale Community Centre afterschool program.
The after school program and cooking classes were open to children ages five to twelve living in the Riverdale Community. Thirty children, representing the neighbourhood’s rich cultural diversity (including newcomers), registered for the hands on program.
Through handling, preparing and tasting fresh whole foods, the children explored and learned about the food system and how their choices can make positive or negative impacts. They explored how and where their favorite fruits and vegetables grow (local vs. imports), identifying processed or un/less processed foods, food packaging and waste reduction, vegetarian “superfoods” (i.e.: Meatless Mondays), and the power of food celebrations.
These children learned that making simple delicious fun recipes at home with their families really could strengthen food security in their community while improving the health of their environment and their growing bodies. At the end of the six weeks, each child participated in a mock farmers’ market where they picked out all the fresh ingredients needed to make one of their favourite recipes, cheese and veggie quesadillas. The children were all challenged to apply what they learned by taking the ingredients home and preparing a meal with their families.
It was inspiring to see children build confidence, work as a team and even demonstrate leadership through food. Equally as impressive was seeing them make proactive choices about the types of recipes they wanted to make and eat.
We asked the participants to tell us about what they learned from the program. Here is what a few of them had to say.
The best ingredients Green Venture used was:
“orange pepper” – Shyanne, 6
“tortilla bread” – Nora, 10
“tomatoes” – Shenika, 11
“peanut butter” – Justin, 9 (we used natural PB; no additives)

I learned this about food and the environment:
“you should eat healthy and fresh” – Nora, 10
“[not to eat] processed foods” – Shenika, 11
“unprocessed food isn’t always healthier [for the environment]” in reference to local vs. imported fresh foods – Ronald, 10

The recipe I will try to make at home:
“Kale chips” – Nora, 10
“Fresh Fruit Salsa” – Rami, 11
“Peanut butter-banana spirals” – Shyanne, 6
“Lemonade” – Hailina, 10 (freshly squeezed)
Green Venture would like to thank the Conserver Society, our sponsoring partner, for helping to bring this project to life. And we would also like to recognize the dedication of two high school volunteers from the Riverdale Community that demonstrated a special level of care and dedication to every cooking class.
Written by Sapphire Singh & Virginia Stonehouse

AquaFarm- The Self-cleaning Fish Tank That Grows Food

AquaFarm

The AquaFarm

Green Venture recently purchased an Aqua Farm. This is an aquarium-sized version of aquaponics. Fish are kept in large tanks and plants are kept in beds above the water with some rocks, gravel, or clay and their roots hang below into the water in the tank. The water is cycled through the system collecting waste from the fish, is then pumped into the plant beds where it is filtered naturally by the plants and it can then be returned to the fish tanks. We wanted to test out this cool new idea on a small scale. We bought ours at a local  aquarium supply store. We are currently keeping the aquafarm in the reception area at the EcoHouse. It’s doing well so far and the plants are growing pretty fast. Using the aquafarm ensures healthy plants, healthy fish and a clean tank.

How Does The AquaFarm Work?

Plants

Grow stones are placed in the planters above the tank. We transplanted a spider plant for starters, then planted lemon grass seeds and basil seeds.

The fish produce ammonia-rich waste which is pumped up to the grow bed. Beneficial bacteria convert waste into nitrates which are toxic to the fish but make great food for the plants. The plants use nitrates as nutrients they need in order to grow, while simultaneously cleaning the water for your fish.

Aquaponics was developed by the Aztecs in c.1000 A.D. They built floating islands for food plants while fish proliferate around the islands while leaving waste on the lake bottom where it was collected to fertilize the plants.  fish are kept in large tanks and plants are kept in beds above the water with some rocks, gravel, or clay and their roots hang below into the water in the tank. The water is cycled through the system collecting waste from the fish, and is then pumped into the plant beds where it is filtered naturally by the plants and it can then be returned to the fish tanks.

fish

Bert And Ron

We called our first two fish in the aqua farm after the Veevers brothers who donated the property to the City of Hamilton in 1986.  Please welcome “Bert” and “Ron”.

Writen by Nicole Burgin  Co-op Student at  Green Venture.

written by Nicole Burgin
Co-op Student at
Green Venture.

Climate Change Action of the Month: Depave Paradise

On September 27th and October 4th, St. Margaret Mary Catholic Elementary School and Green Venture, a local not-for-profit, teamed up to host Hamilton’s second and largest Depave Paradise.

On September 27th, a crew of over 30 staff, students, parents, volunteers and members of the community removed over 1400 square feet of asphalt from the schoolyard to increase the school’s green, play space.On October 4th, over 50 volunteers came back to fill the space with a native species rain garden.

This was Green Venture’s biggest Depave Paradise project after Depaving St. Augustine Catholic Elementary School in 2012 and it will add to the over 10,000 square feet depaved across Canada through the Depave Paradise program. To learn more, please visit www.depaveparadise.ca/.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For pictures from the Depave Day on September 27th, click here. For pictures from the Planting Day on October 4th, click here.
Removing asphalt and concrete renews and beautifies community spaces. Demonstration projects like St. Margaret Mary help to build sense of community and motivate participants to consider other depaving projects. Beyond the community building, the benefits of depaving are numerous. They include:
  • Increasing green, community space by adding in a natural playgrounds, community vegetable gardens, trees, rain gardens, or other permeable surfaces
  • Decreasing the heat island effect to help cool things down
  • Decreasing the runoff of stormwater to lower its impacts on our sewers and help improve our community’s water quality

We would like to give CN EcoConnexions: From the Ground Up and Shell Fuelling Change a huge thank you for their generous support of this project.

Climate Change Action of the Month: The Green Cottage

Start Climate Change awareness at the home! That is what the Green Cottage in Hamilton has done, this house has many ecofriendly features, which helps eliminate its lasting effects on the climate. The house, located in the north end of Hamilton by the harbour, was originally built in 1885 with many similar houses surrounding it, but since then it has had some major renovations, and although the house does not look much different than the ones surrounding it the Green Cottage is unlike any home in Hamilton.

The Green Cottage

The Green Cottage

Starting on the outside the house is trimmed with salvaged wood, reclaimed wood helps eliminate the process of manufacturing and saves a few trees from being cut down in the process. The house is also insulated on the outside, this is called Exsulation, which provides more thermal heating for the house, eliminating most of the use of furnaces. The roof is also adorned with many solar panels and solar water heaters. Up to 30% of new greenhouse gases around the globe are contributed by non-renewable energy, and using solar energy as an alternative helps to decrease that number and the impacts of climate change.

On the inside the house is NOT equipped with a clothing dryer, air conditioner, stove, refrigerator or microwave! With the house lacking these amenities they are not sucking out energy for appliances that are not essential for everyday needs. The Green Cottage has significantly reduced its energy use, and has set a very high standard for energy conservation.

The house is also surround by a vigorous and beautiful garden. The garden creates green space in a mostly asphalt ridden area, and the plants not only look great but they are absorbing carbon dioxide and eliminating that from out atmosphere. The Green Cottage has gone above and beyond to eliminate their negative effects on climate change and the environment in general. This house is not only proof that you can take an old home and make environmental improvements, but it also demonstrates the many changes you can make a home level.

Written by: Brittney Massey

%d bloggers like this: