Archive for the ‘Wildlife & Nature’ Category

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.

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For more information, please contact:

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

deirdre.connell@greenventure.ca

 

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

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

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

Fall Garden Chores

Doing chores in your garden during the fall is a very important process to a modern day gardener. Not a lot of people are aware of how important it is. Doing certain tasks will benefit your gardens future. These simple chores with help promote growth, keep your garden more organized and will make it a lot easier when spring hits.

A good task to do when working on your garden in the fall is to divide all of your overgrown plants. It is always important to do your research before dividing plants to ensure that it is okay to divide. Examples of some plants that are good to divide are daylilies, blue fescue and ornamental grasses. This cleans up the garden and also saves you money because you are able to put the new plants in other gardens. The best way to do this is to loosen up the soil around the plant with a shovel, getting the whole plant out of the soil with the roots and all. Try to avoid harming the root system when doing this. Once your plant is removed from the garden, you can take two pitch (garden) forks back to back in the center of the plant. Make sure they are as far into the soil and plant as they can be. You then pull them apart by keeping the pitch forks in the soil and keeping one handle in your left hand and the other in your right, then by pulling both handles apart, keeping the fork ends in the plants center. You now have two plants and are able to place them in the gardens.

Another important chore to do in the fall is to cut back your perennials. It is good to do this before winter hits because the foliage begins to die anyway and will look cleaner. This will be able to help promote growth for the spring. When cutting back your perennials, be sure to discard diseased leaves or leaves that seem to have a “rotting” appearance. When discarding the leaves, it ensures that they are not near any other plants. This avoids the potential of diseasing other plants. Cut back the perennials as low as you can with hand shears. Be sure the shears are clean and sharp.

A typical chore to do at the end of the season is to keep up with your raking. Raking the fallen leaves in and around your garden is important to do before the winter comes. The leaves can suffocate your lawn when snow begins to fall. When the leaves don’t exist, it helps the water get through and into the root system. Some people use their leaves as mulch. This can be done by shredding the leaves and placing them evenly throughout your garden.Davis Creek

If you want to have beautiful flowers in the spring, another chore to do is to plant spring flowering bulbs. By doing this, the bulbs will have time to grow and start to come out of the ground and flower in the spring. A few types of these bulbs would be Tulips, Daffodils and crocus. Be sure to find out how deep you need to plant these bulbs. Different types of bulbs, need to be certain depths to come out at the right time.

An option for you to do in the fall is to help protect your young trees and shrubs from the harsh winter. You have the option of wrapping the young trees and shrubs in burlap wrap. You can get these supplies at your local garden centers. Just be sure to take them off as soon as spring hits. You don’t want to keep them on for too long, because they may start to decrease growth.

Written By: Stacey Almas (Ecohouse Summer Green Gardener)

Climate Change Action of the Month: HIEA

Trees Please!

There’s been a lot of concern and interest in climate change in the City of Hamilton lately with the development of  a Community Climate Change Action Plan. Increasing the amount of green space and the number of trees in a dense city area helps to mitigate climate change. Trees absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and use this in the process of photosynthesis to grow big and tall! Trees absorbing carbon dioxide is beneficial and planting trees is a very practical approach to combating climate change.

HIEA in the process of planting all of their new trees.

HIEA in the process of planting all of their new trees.

The Andrew Warburton Memorial Park, which is now the home of 32 new trees.

The Andrew Warburton Memorial Park, which is now the home of 32 new trees.

Around the north east end, the Hamilton Industrial Environmental Association (HIEA) has been committed to planting over 120 trees including Maple, Serviceberry, Kentucky Coffeetree, Katsura and more in various locations including:

  • St. Christopher’s Park
  • RT Steele Park
  • Andrew Warburton Memorial Park
  • Lake Avenue Park

HIEA is dedicated to improving our local environment. The actions of HIEA will help to lessen the effects of climate change as the trees continue to absorb the carbon dioxide, which they then convert and store in the form of wood. Planting younger trees is also beneficial as they begin to absorb the carbon dioxide at an exponential rate while they begin to grow. Planting trees is a great way to mitigate climate change as they absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and having less greenhouse gases in the atmosphere slows down climate change. This is why it is important not only to plant new trees but to also protect the trees we already have.

Written by: Brittney Massey

Gardening in the Shade

Having a garden on your property is beneficial in many ways, but sometimes we’re challenged when there’s a tree blocking the sun, a fence or even when the direction of the sun just doesn’t quite reach the area where you want to plant. Gardening in the shade can be tough. Choosing the proper plants that suit the lighting requirements is very important. Another thing to consider when planting in the shade, is to choose plants that are able to withstand lots of moisture. Since the sun isn’t quite hitting the garden, the moisture doesn’t evaporate as quickly.

At Green Venture, we recommend perennial plants that are native to the region. That way there will be less pests, and they will attract our much needed pollinators. When choosing these plants, it is important that you do your research to find out if these plants can withstand shade and moisture.

Perennial Native Plants that can withstand shade and moisture:

Foam FlowerFoam Flower

Ostrich FernOstrich Fern

Soloman's SealSolomon’s Seal

Wooly Blue Violet Wooly Blue Violet

Wild GingerWild Ginger Tall Bell FlowerTall Bell Flower
Wild GeraniumWild Geranium Fridge SedgeFringed Sedge

WintergreenWintergreen

 

A great tip for a shaded garden is to go with a woodland garden theme. Native shade tolerant plants make an excellent woodland garden. Luckily, there are still lots of plants to choose from, with a variety of different colours, shapes, and sizes. Even though a garden may be dark, it doesn’t mean you can’t brighten it up with some plants!

Don’t give up, and remember that you can plant in all sorts of light, you just have to remember the golden rule: Always remember to choose the proper plants for the proper place.

Now get planting!

Written by: Stacey Almas

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