London Primary School’s black-roofed courtyard has been ‘stripped down’ to add gardens with input from children


It’s almost like the lyrics of a Joni Mitchell song, but in reverse.

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It’s almost like the lyrics of a Joni Mitchell song, but in reverse.

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“Instead of paving heaven, we are doing the opposite,” said Tom Muth, Principal of Jeanne Sauvé Elementary School. “We have 10 groups of children who helped design the gardens and are now getting their hands dirty.”

Wharncliffe Road School in London’s Blackfriars district is undergoing a playground makeover called Depave Paradise with parts of the cobbled schoolyard torn up and dozens of volunteers posing topsoil and mulch before planting native species in two new gardens.

“The community has been waiting for something to happen at our school for a long time because our yard is paved and it has caused a lot of challenges not only in terms of student activities but also in terms of finding shelter with the hot days we have had. over the past two days,” Muth said.

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A week earlier, volunteers used pry bars and shovels to break up an unused area of ​​roadway the size of 10 parking spaces.

“Bringing students into this greening process is a real grassroots initiative that the (school) board is going to consider doing more often,” Muth said. “We are really the starting point for that.

“I think there is a trend in the board. . . help influence climate change and be stewards of the environment for the future generation of people.

The gardens will be maintained by the school and are the result of a partnership between the Thames Valley District School Board and the London Environmental Network.

A plaque describes each species planted, adding an educational component to the project, Muth said.

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“It’s more fun than just being in class,” said Grade 8 student Goljien Mirzakhani. “I love that I can help our school build a garden and be more environmentally conscious.”

Muth said planting the garden “is a natural progression for our schoolyard to become more integrated into the community.

“Blackfriars has a great history in agriculture for the town,” he said. “We have a very strong community base with community gardens next to the River Thames.”

The Depave Paradise project is the start of a larger effort to naturalize the playground and provide more green space for students. “This summer we’re adding a football field and going up a lot more sidewalks,” Muth said.

Marianne Griffith, director of programs at the London Environmental Network, said it was important “to conserve these pockets of nature and reclaim them for permeable, indigenous and biologically diverse public spaces.

“This project has so many benefits. . . students will help transform their own playground and learn the value of native plants,” she said. “We look forward to seeing more roadways removed across London and replaced with green infrastructure.”

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