2017 is GreenUP’s 25th year! For each of those 25 years, GreenUP has been offering opportunities for learning, skill-building, and environmental action in our community.
Over that time, the landscape has shifted dramatically, but with generous community support from volunteers, donors, and funders, GreenUP has been able to continue developing innovative, relevant, and diverse programs that have had a lasting impact on the health of our shared environment.
For children growing up in this region, the GreenUP Ecology Park has been a site of wonder, learning, and environmental immersion. Whether it’s investigating pollinator habitats at the beehives, getting their hands dirty while planting vegetables, or examining the health of local streams with a dipnet, children have been able to explore and learn through dynamic, nature-based programs at GreenUP Ecology Park.
Next year, we hope to enhance facilities at GreenUP Ecology Park, to strengthen our capacity to offer high quality outdoor programming, maximize the impact this unique facility can have on the health of children, and increase accessibility to enable a greater number of children to use the park.
When children are outside, they move more, sit less, and play longer. Ecology Park’s focus on outdoor, experiential learning includes nature-based and environmental programming but also actively integrates opportunities for children to play freely; because we know that less-structured free play helps children to get in touch with their environment and feel more confident, connected, and healthy.
GreenUP’s Executive Director, Brianna Salmon explains, “GreenUP is committed to environmental programming that builds our region’s capacity to meaningfully address the challenges yet to come; that increases resilience for the people and places that are most vulnerable; and, that inspires hope, enabling action for people of all ages.”
Plans for improvement at Ecology Park include improving the teaching shelter, replacing the hand washing station, and adding a drinking water station. They also include the installation of additional lighting and a fully accessible washroom.
The current children’s education structure has been standing for decades and is in great need of renewal. We plan to renovate the structure next year and expand the teaching shelter to offer an enhanced outdoor learning space for hosing workshops, camps, and larger school groups.
When planning for the renovation of a 20+ year-old structure, improving accessibility is at the forefront of mind. Providing an accessible environment for children will facilitate increased socialization with peers, community and the environment, and will support healthy development.
“The longer-term vision for the site also includes a greenhouse, which would allow for onsite native plant propagation,” says GreenUP Ecology Park Manager, Marcy Adzich, “A greenhouse would also give us more autonomy and control over our inventory, and could extend our growing season beyond what we are able to do now.”
The watering system at Ecology Park is also quite rudimentary; installing an enhanced irrigation system would enable staff and volunteers to water the plant nursery more efficiently. Right now, watering the nursery consists of connecting multiple rubber hoses and moving them around the park to access all edges of the nursery. It is quite cumbersome for staff, taking a great deal of time and effort to complete all of the necessary watering, and with very little water pressure remaining at the furthest-to-reach areas.
Through the years, donations of time and funds, as well as the sharing of skills, have all helped to sustain Ecology Park as a vibrant urban site, and have enabled thousands of students to develop stronger connections with the natural world.
As we look toward the future, community support remains as vital as ever to strengthen our capacity and educate our children in places like GreenUP Ecology Park. We are excited to continue strengthening our facilities to increase GreenUP’s capacity to educate the next generation of environmental stewards.
GreenUP’s Executive Director adds, “Working to enhance environmental health can be both challenging and complex, but, to me, the support and strength of local community has never felt more important.”
For more information about GreenUP’s 25th and for ongoing updates with GreenUP Ecology Park improvement projects, visit greenup.on.ca. To help with improvements to GreenUP Ecology Park, you can contribute to the specially created NEST Fund at greenup.on.ca/donate.