Students join 50 million trees campaign
BY STEVEN WARBURTON
Staff On this warm Thursday morning in late May, Holy Trinity Secondary School teacher Mike Smith is smiling while he watches a group of Grades 7 and 8 students plant spruce trees on school property.
“The kids have been stuck inside for six months because of bad weather,” says Mr. Smith, who teaches agriculture at the school. “So it’s nice to see them come outside so they can do something where they will be immediately rewarded.”
Holy Trinity just finished a week’s worth of tree-planting, which saw them place white pines, Norway and white spruces, silver maples, white and red oak, and butternut trees in three different sections of the school’s 43-acre property. They also planted Norway spruces along a 430-metre section of the school’s eastern boundary, which should operate as a windbreak.
The school received the trees as part of the Ontario government’s 50 Million Trees program, which has the stated goal of planting 50 million trees by 2025. Interested landowners need one hectare (2.5 acres) of suitable land and must sign a 15-year agreement to care for the trees.
“A lot of the land here is unused,” Mr. Smith says. “The trees will add value, improve the air quality, and reduce our carbon footprint.”
For Andrea Stang, Holy Trinity’s Ecoschool lead, planting the trees is part of upgrading Holy Trinity’s certification from gold to platinum.
According to Ontario ecoschools – whose mission is to ”nurture environmental leaders, reduce the ecological impact of schools, and build environmentally responsible school communities” – a platinum certification requires plenty of attention. Last week’s tree planting is just one component. Schools are also asked to micromanage day-to-day oper- ations to ensure that lights are turned off when they’re not required, that blinds and curtains are closed to minimize heat loss, and that electronic equipment be used more efficiently, such as using double-sided photocopies to reduce paper waste.
The platinum certification also requires that a school be gold certified for at least three of the five preceding years.
Ms. Stang says that the school has a number of other environmental components in place. It has a thorough recycling program, will soon have a greenhouse to grow produce that will be sold, and hopes to begin composting in the fall. Normand Génier, Forestry Specialist with the Raisin Region Conservation Authority, was at the school on Thursday to help with the tree planting. He taught the students how to dig proper holes and how to plant trees, ensuring the holes were deep enough so that the roots could extend all the way into the soil.