The Kent Public School Food Forest was designed and built on a south facing hill in an unused area of the school that was formerly just grass. It suffered terrible dry spells and heavy spring run-off that caused erosion. We transitioned it to a series of bumps that were designed to catch spring water flow and direct it back into the soil. Much of the area is now quite wild and going in the direction of natural habitat. My goal when I started was to provide an opportunity for students to see where food – particularly fruit and nuts, come from.
It has suffered some hard times as it is south facing and has no irrigation. But, slowly pioneering plants are taking hold and each Fall Mr Carlen’s class plants a few more nut and fruit trees. Some of them are germinated with sees in the class. Students get to see Monarch butterflies hatch, birds, squirrels, bumblebees, honey bees, many other pollinators, even foxes took up residence early in the hill’s development.
As part of my ongoing attempts to green-up our school and provide hands-on educational experiences with nature, I would like to apply to be a Bee School to supplement my “Food Forest” that I started a few years ago. Since the area was an unused grassy area, I have turned it into an area where we plant trees each Fall. Since the trees are seedlings and will take many years to change into a forest, I have planted many wildflowers and allowed the area to become more naturalized, not allowing any mowing or groundskeeping to occur. I believe this initiative falls in line with the bee friendly environment you are trying to encourage.
I have already started a natural area. Among the trees planted I have many natural pollinators. The area will continue to be planted yearly with new fruit and nut trees to go along with my Food Forest goal. Around the trees are planted flowering native and non-native plants. I will be aiming to add to it with wildflower mixtures. I will also possibly be adding a wildflower kit from Lower Trent Conservation if I am able to secure funds for the project. The Lower Trent Conservation kit includes Wild Columbine, Wild Lupine, Harebell, Black-eyed Susan, dense Blazing Star, Bee Balm. We already encourage the growth of natural plants like Mullen, Milkweed, comfrey, haskap bushes, elderberry, butterfly bush.