Greening Initiatives

Oaklands Elementary School is a vibrant community school that encompasses a population of approximately 430 K-5 students. The school has initiated a plan to restore elements of the natural landscape as part of a popular movement to reincorporate a curriculum of experiential learning outdoors, and to enhance the native biodiversity onsite. Oaklands staff, SD 61, PAC, the City of Victoria, and Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) are collaborating on a project to facilitate a native plant garden installed and maintained by students. This initiative can be considered an extension of neighbourhood efforts to restore habitats and park space in a loop called the Ryan Street Greenway. The City is involved through the Greenways Program and has provided the services of their Natural Areas Technician, Thomas Munson. Todd Carnahan (HAT) is involved through the Green Spots Program with a goal of “growing minds through outdoor classrooms” including native plant gardens and habitat stewardship at twenty schools. This project is informed by research and recommendations of the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team.
The School is located in a remnant Garry Oak ecosystem that is very rare and nationally significant. Many oaks onsite are at least 300 years old and are typical of the rarest deep soil habitats that were virtually eliminated by farming and development. The 2000 square meter area selected for restoration by staff and consultants is the North-east corner of the property where rocky outcrops and remnant groundcovers are found. Despite intense trampling and soil erosion over many years, species such as Hookers Onion and Oregon Grape remain.
The project will involve several stages of installation including mulching, fencing, and planting. Leaf mulch is required to rebuild soil and prevent erosion, while fencing is necessary to protect plants prior to establishment over several years. Student plantings will occur over several years by successive cohorts. Fencing can be constructed by District staff from split cedar rails and installed so that it can be moved to enclose newly planted areas in the future. Planting plans will be developed by the consultants based on extensive experience restoring similar sites regionally.
The school will develop an installation and maintenance plan in collaboration with consultants and submit the plan through a standard application to the School District for feedback and approval. All efforts are made to minimize additional responsibilities for grounds maintenance and to maintain student safety. Any works such as fencing may be installed by Union staff under the direction of the Grounds Manager. HAT and the City will provide inkind contributions of staff time and gardening materials such as fencing, mulch, and native plant stock. HAT staff provides information and assistance with grant applications, student supervision and teaching, and information sessions for the school community.
If you would like to become involved in the Oaklands garden project please contact Holly Holt, principal at Oaklands School, or Jeff Ralph, parent coordinator.