Education |  Green walls for teaching |

Education | Green walls for teaching |

(Drummondville) Hundreds of Drummondville students will be able to grow berries, vegetables, herbs and other plants in their school next year thanks to the 60 green walls being installed by the School Service Center (CSS) des Chênes. La Presse met a third-year class at the Jean Raimbault School who experienced it.

Posted at 5:00 am

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Text: Ariane Krol

Text: Ariane Krol La Presse

Photos: Martin Chamberland

Photos: Martin Chamberland La Press

“I like doing it: it’s manual, it seems like you work outside more than inside,” testifies Justin Sinclair.

“It’s a little natural corner,” adds Emmanuel Parisien Bourgeois.

Ever since a miniature wall of plants appeared in their classroom, Justin and Emmanuel have been busy tending the plants that grow vertically in the metal structure hanging next to the window. However, they are not the only ones involved. The whole group got into it. The teachers Marie-Michèle Joyal (French) and Stéphanie Roux (science) have turned it into a joint educational project.

“In the program we do the explanatory text: we let the students write things, but they don’t necessarily get it,” explains Ms. Joyal.

Not so here, where everyone had to do some research to select an edible plant to include in the wall structure.

When we transplanted, we met a deadline for doing so. They’re happy, they stand up, stick their hands in the ground.

Stephanie Roux, teacher

An educational green wall

  • Passionate gardener Marie-Michèle Joyal, here with student Justin Sinclair, integrates the green wall activities into her French lessons.

    PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

    Passionate gardener Marie-Michèle Joyal, here with student Justin Sinclair, integrates the green wall activities into her French lessons.

  • Thanks to the plant wall installed in their class, teachers Stéphanie Roux (Science) and Marie-Michèle Joyal (French) have integrated gardening into their subject in this third grade group, to which the student Justin Sinclair belongs.

    PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

    Thanks to the plant wall installed in their class, teachers Stéphanie Roux (Science) and Marie-Michèle Joyal (French) have integrated gardening into their subject in this third grade group, to which the student Justin Sinclair belongs.

  • Emmanuel Parisien Bourgeois controls the water level in the tank that feeds the wall sprinkler system.

    PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

    Emmanuel Parisien Bourgeois controls the water level in the tank that feeds the wall sprinkler system.

  • How does a garden become more environmentally responsible?  The students' answers were posted next to the green wall.

    PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

    How does a garden become more environmentally responsible? The students’ answers were posted next to the green wall.

  • A total of 60 green walls will be installed in the CSS des Chênes schools over the next school year, including some in corridors, like this one in the Jean Raimbault high school.

    PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

    A total of 60 green walls will be installed in the CSS des Chênes schools over the next school year, including some in corridors, like this one in the Jean Raimbault high school.

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Students became familiar with various concepts, such as camaraderie. “Some plants grow better next to other plants,” explains Olivier Fréchette spontaneously.

When we visited at the end of May, the herbs and most of the plants, including potatoes and strawberries, were in full bloom. However, the sprinkler system, which is operated via a large button, was initially a little too popular.

“The wall waters a lot, so the plants have to be mature before they are installed. And upstairs they get so much water that we replaced the salads. We also learn,” says Ms. Roux.

The question of the famous explanatory text was obvious: How does a garden become more environmentally conscious when you design it?

“No chemicals are used,” slips Charlie Biron, referring to the culture lived in the classroom.

“It avoids transports,” adds Olivier Fréchette.

“It’s good for biodiversity because it attracts beneficial insects. For example, it helps the bees to survive,” says Gabriel Buisson.

At the time of writing, “nobody had white page syndrome,” affirms Ms. Joyal. “They can write from their own experience, that appeals to them. »

With fish

In another class, Patrick Lampron, who teaches science in second high school, connected an aquarium to the green wall. Watering is not necessary here: every quarter of an hour, an automatic pump pumps some water from the aquarium into the wall. Plants are grown in Tonkies to prevent water being returned to the aquarium from adding too much suspended matter. In the spring, the project was still in the experimental stage: the trout fry, which died within 48 hours, had to be replaced with more resilient goldfish.

Finally, this aquaponics system could be used in the elementary school, where several classes already have an aquarium, says Mr. Lampron.

It brings a lot of life and for the teacher it’s a great way to calm a class down because the trout shouldn’t be stressed. It’s soothing and I’m sure the plants will do a little bit of the same.

Patrick Lampron, teacher

An aquaponic experience

  • Lauralie Béchard and Delphine Rioux, two secondary school students, volunteered to take care of the aquarium used for the aquaponics pilot project.

    PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

    Lauralie Béchard and Delphine Rioux, two secondary school students, volunteered to take care of the aquarium used for the aquaponics pilot project.

  • The aquaponics system, which combines an aquarium with a green wall, was still in the experimental stage when we visited.

    PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

    The aquaponics system, which combines an aquarium with a green wall, was still in the experimental stage when we visited.

  • In this plant wall, the plants do not grow in soil but in clay balls to prevent the water that is returned to the aquarium from containing too much suspended matter.

    PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

    In this plant wall, the plants do not grow in soil but in clay balls to prevent the water that is returned to the aquarium from containing too much suspended matter.

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1659274644 71 Education Green walls for teaching

PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

Patrick Lampron, a secondary school science teacher, is conducting tests with a green wall connected to an aquarium, an aquaponics system that could be installed in elementary school classrooms.

popular project

A total of 60 green walls will be installed in CSS primary and secondary schools over the next year, in classrooms but also in corridors where they could be used for extracurricular activities.

The metal parts will be manufactured by a Drummondville company, but the assembly of the structures, including the pipes and electricity, will be carried out by students from the CSS’s Center de formation en entreprise et récuperation (CFER).

1659274645 710 Education Green walls for teaching

PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

Pablo Desfossés, coordinator of GARAF, the organization leading the Green Wall project at the Chênes School Service Center, in a development carried out by GARAF in front of the Jean Raimbault secondary school.

The entire project is led by the Wildlife Research and Development Assistance Group (GARAF), an entity of the CSS that is both a specific school program (such as music or sports) and an environmental service provider. GARAF receives orders from municipalities, ministries and companies that young people carry out as part of their studies. “They have a problem, but we have our educational goals, that’s the challenge,” summarizes GARAF coordinator Pablo Desfossés. During our visit he had just spent the morning planting maple trees with two groups of first secondary school students in an old sandpit that GARAF had been commissioned to restore.

Young people who are registered with GARAF spend an average of half a day a week in nature to carry out various projects (bank development, fish stocks, water bodies, etc.). Plant walls are part of this logic as the plants can be taken outside.

The mandates and other donations, such as those from the Fonds du grand mouvement Desjardins, contribute to the financing of the GARAF, which has been in existence for over 20 years.