The Humber Arboretum and Centre of Urban Ecology opened doors yesterday for A Seed of Green, a showcase put on as part of Earth Week.
“The main goal of this is to get members of the Humber community, students and staff, who haven’t been over here before, to just come over and see what we’re all about,” said Marilyn Campbell, communications assistant at the North campus Arboretum who helped organize the event.
“Because we know we’re kind of a mystery to a lot of people. It’s just to welcome everybody into our big glass box.”
The big glass box is the Urban Ecology building, where free guided tours were held throughout the day. The tour shed a spotlight on the various far-reaching projects that the Arboretum is a part of.
There was a large focus on the design of the Urban Ecology building itself, which is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certified Gold facility, a recognition of sustainability based on the global LEED standard. The large south facing windows in combination with the brise soleil blinds allow for optimal heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. The green roof, covered in moss and succulents, collects extra rain water in a cistern for use by the centre.
The building is also bird friendly, after putting up grids of small circle stickers on the windows. This allows the birds to see the glass and avoid collisions.
Other features of the tour included displays of work that Humber students have accomplished using the Arboretum, videos of local groundhogs and binoculars for bird-watching.
“We have a broad mission, we cover a lot of different topics,” said Campbell. “A big part of what we do is a lot of education, environmental and nature education programs, so that’s with students, school groups throughout the year, and run summer camps.”
Benjamin Verdicchio, an environmental education assistant and bilingual nature interpreter at the centre helps to deliver, maintain, and support educational programming in both English and French, teaching children about the environment. He also acted as one of the tour guides for the open house.
“It’s been a pretty quiet day today,” said Verdicchio, after giving the 1:45pm tour to only one person, a singular Humber Et Cetera reporter.
“Largely I think because it happened to be very chilly today, and there’s a chance of snow. I think that’s been keeping people at bay but we’ve been giving plenty of tours and it’s been fun chatting and hanging out and talking to people.”
The tour finished outdoors, with a demonstration of a traditional method of boiling sap down into syrup. The sap is harvested from maple trees in the Arboretum as a joint project with Humber’s culinary program. Samples of the intensely sweet finished syrup were available to try.
Verdicchio said the reception throughout the day had been positive, with people showing a “general interest in what they didn’t know before.”