W.E. Graham Community School students opted for shovels and wheelbarrows instead of pencils and Chromebooks last month with the delivery of nearly 30 trees and shrubs to their school.
Green Team leader and educational assistant, Tanya Wright was thrilled to learn the funding she had applied for through Tree Canada’s Greening Canada’s School Grounds grant program had been approved, after initially being told otherwise last spring. The unexpected announcement that the project was going ahead meant Tanya and PAC Chair Dayna Fidler had to scramble to organize important details such as site preparation, plant selection and the organization of volunteers.
Finding community volunteers in Slocan is rarely a problem. More recently having built a new playground structure for the school, over 50 members of the community came out to help with that installation. The planting of trees and shrubs close by the structure aims to further enhance the playground project and will provide more natural shade and a habitat for bees and wildlife for many years to come. For this particular project, several parent and community members brought forward expertise in indigenous plant species, permaculture, arboriculture, even local contractors with excavator experience!
By selecting plant groups of native deciduous trees such as maple Oak, Alder, Black Hawthorn and indigenous species of shrubs such as the Red Oiser Dogwood, Wildrose and Chokecherry, students will learn more about the role these species play in the local ecosystem as well as the traditional uses and medicinal properties of the selected plants. Thanks go out to Gregoire Lamoureux from Kootenay Permaculture, and Dayna Fidler and Jenner Hopper of Edge Permaculture for their assistance in plant selection and the organization of leading workshops for students, staff and community members.
“We are a very environmentally aware school,” said Wright. “This project is just one of many that the Green Team is implementing, and will help teach students about the trees and shrubs and their role in creating a healthy ecosystem for our whole community!”
Wood chips are being installed at the base of the trees to help retain moisture and reduce thermal impact. Looking ahead, the Green Team also hopes to include a water feature and bee garden.
“The nature scape provides even further outdoor learning opportunities for our students,” said principal Mike Hurley. “Especially during these times, the more we can get outdoors, the better!”
W.E. Graham school also wishes to recognize the local business support from Four Seasons Greenhouse, Home Hardware and Dragonfly Contracting.