SJ Willis School Conquers Invasive Species

SJ Willis weeding panorama Peter

Our guess would be that not many people have heard of SJ Willis, a large education centre located right in the heart of Victoria. It is tucked away behind Hillside and Blanshard but the school property itself was once a Garry Oak Meadow. We often forget that the downtown core was once covered with native species and that with the removal of invasive ones we can restore these ecosystems. School education assistant Caroline and biology teacher Ashley realized the potential of their school property and contacted HAT to do an initial scouting of their area to see what could be done to help to bring native species such as Oregon grape back to life. We discovered that there was plenty of native species still alive and blooming in some areas of their school grounds and that we needed to remove some hefty blackberry bushes to ensure proper growth in the spring.

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Because SJ Willis is such a diverse centre that houses many different programs ranging from High School diplomas to ESL for mature students, we were fortunate to have a diverse group of students help out their school for two days of invasive species removal, mulching and planting of native plants. Over the course of the two days we were able to educate students and new comers to Canada about the value of the work they were doing and at the end of the two days we had an enormous amount of blackberry pulled that we rolled up into a "blackberry burrito" (see photo below)!

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Another successful planting we are proud of and one more triumphant project for our  GreenSpots program. Special thanks to Caroline and Ashley for organizing such a wonderful day.

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