Humber students gain appreciation for nature through Humber Arboretum’s new bird garden

Ben Chambers

ENVIRONMENT REPORTER

The cliché that many hands make light work rang true last Saturday when the Humber Arboretum held a bird garden preview and planting.

More than 20 people showed up in the 9C weather to help plant the Humber Arboretum’s new bird garden, despite what garden planner Kevin Kavanagh called “gale-force winds.”

It was scheduled to last for two hours but was completed in only 30 minutes with the high number of volunteers at the event.

“A bird garden is simply a garden designed to attract birds and provide habitat for them at the various stages in their life cycles,” said Bird Studies Canada Toronto Projects Coordinator Emily Rondel.

It’s part of Gardens for Nature, a joint project between the Humber Arboretum and Bird Studies Canada, which is meant to be a publicly accessible demonstration garden people can mimic in their own yards, Rondel said.

“It’s tough with students just because everyone has a different schedule and so we’re looking now to see, okay maybe weekends are a little bit more of an ideal time for connecting with students,” said coordinator of Education Camps and Community Outreach Jimmy Vincent.

The Arboretum is finding ways to connect with students in a number of different ways. Humber students began working on the bird garden earlier last week.

“This was the first main project they’ve been working on in terms of understanding more about everything from taking a plant out of a pot and looking at the root structure and how to make sure it’s going to succeed by breaking it up in different ways,” Kavanagh said.

Kavanagh said students interested in making a difference with events like these, the best thing they can do is spend time in the Arboretum.

“A big part for the students is the actual enjoying of the species that come visit the garden. You know you’re fairly limited when you’re in residence in regards to having bird feeders or anything like that,” Vincent said.

The bird garden planting was an educational experience to help show people how to create their own bird-friendly gardens.

“These are becoming a big thing nowadays because people want to have beauty in their yard but they also want to contribute,” Vincent said.

Vincent also wants students to enjoy the Arboretum because “this is a place where students can form memories with their peers.”

The Arboretum supports Humber students in other ways as well. Culinary students get fresh herbs and pick vegetables from an organic vegetable garden. They are also planning to hire a culinary student to assist with maple syrup processing.

Up to 10,000 high school students participate in programs run by the Humber Arboretum to teach them about birds and gain an appreciation for nature, Vincent said.

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