Guest blogger Jana Ronne is a teacher and CWF Wildlife-friendly Certified Gardener.
Ever since I can remember, plants were my people.
From a young age, I spent many hours outdoors wandering the woods or helping Grandma in the garden. I formed a very close relationship with plants, insects and birds.
I really struggle with the legacy of our human race – the continuous encroachment on all non-human life forms – so I am trying to help my students see the beauty of what remains by taking them hiking, giving them the opportunity to learn how to grow food, and teaching them how to recognize some important local and not-so-local plants.
Bringing Pollinators to the School
Last year, my Science for Citizen classes and our gardening club helped me plant our school garden with a variety of mostly native plants, so any class wishing to meet an interesting plant would not have to travel too far. Arranging field trips is rather difficult and costly!
We came up with a plan for a pollinator-friendly garden that would also allow us to learn about our native plants and some sensory plants, like Stinging Nettle or tasty raspberries. We were happy to receive plant donations from the Canadian Wildlife Federation and the Environmental Youth Alliance, and we purchased some additional plants.
As we planted, I would tell the students stories about the plants’ importance to caterpillars and adult butterflies as well as to the bumble bees and hummingbirds that frequent our school garden. I asked them to think and see the world as if they were a little bee and consider how easy (or difficult) it would be for them to find food in a city like Vancouver where most surfaces are cement, asphalt or lawns.
The students felt a real sense of accomplishment seeing our garden taking off before school let out for summer.
Garden Club for Kids
The garden club kids helped me find our plants again in the fall as we removed the faster growing weeds. I am happy to report that they oversummered and overwintered well and are waking up for the busy bumble bees, hummingbirds and several families of finches building their nests!
Since I received many plants from CWF, I distributed some to a couple of Butterflyway gardens in northeast Vancouver. Our neighbourhood kids really enjoy learning about the lives of butterflies and other pollinators as they interact with and help maintain these gardens. The garden at Garibaldi Annex offers the neighbours a particularly joyful place to stop and relax.
Thank you CWF!