Riverside School

A water harvesting and food forest system leave a lasting legacy.

About the Project

Services: stakeholder relations, graphic design, engineering, water harvesting, food production, soil sciences

Located in northeast Calgary, Riverside School is a well-known K-Grade 9 Science Alternative Program school. To support the science-based curriculum, the school wanted an outdoor classroom to teach students about sustainable development. The outdoor classroom needed to include an area for students to sit and learn, while participating in water harvesting and food forest production.

A spiral rock amphitheatre was created so kids could sit and learn.

Solution

OnGrowing Works partnered with the Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership’s designer Leta Van Druin to plan the garden. Together, they used the Fibonacci Sequence to mimic nature’s natural patterns and create a spiral rock amphitheatre where kids could sit and learn. They also incorporated Low Impact Development principles to capture and manage stormwater in the amphitheatre’s basin.

To further engage students in the outdoor classroom, a water harvesting system was built beside the asphalt parking lot to collect stormwater to irrigate the food forest. In addition, benches surrounding the amphitheatre and food forest also included drainage systems to further harvest stormwater. OnGrowing Works used their landscape construction knowledge to ensure that water captured from the asphalt didn’t contaminate the food forest.

Low Impact Development principles captured and managed stormwater in the amphitheatre’s basin.

The food forest design used xeriscape principles that reduced water consumption through high organic matter, increased soil volumes and aged bark mulch. In addition, prairie-hardy native plants were used to match southern Alberta’s natural landscape. One of the students’ favourite features of the food forest was a bicycle that powers the irrigation system. Students must ride the bicycle to water the plants.

Finally, OnGrowing Works built a new playground for Riverside School students that adhered to the highest playground safety standards.

The Result

By combining water harvesting and food forest production, OnGrowing Works and Van Druin created a sustainable outdoor classroom for Riverside School students that allowed them to actively engage and learn about sustainable development, biomimicry and energy conservation. Thanks to the use of the Fibonacci Sequence, xeriscape principles and low impact development, the food forest relied on captured stormwater for irrigation and students learned how to grow their own food using minimal energy. Together, the amphitheatre, stormwater harvesting and food forest created a sustainable living space for Riverside students, families and staff, leaving a lasting legacy for future generations.

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OnGrowing Works and Van Druin created a sustainable outdoor classroom for Riverside School students.
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