The schoolyard at Strathcona School transformed from a wide expanse of asphalt into a forest with many creative and playful elements. The fifty-year-old asphalt was broken up with irregular star-shaped holes, allowing nature to fill the gaps. Trees and recycled materials fill the voids, and bright coloured paint livens the schoolyard. These “free spaces” also allow for water infiltration, plant communities, and insect habitats, performing valuable ecological services and creating learning opportunities. The children observe the trees changing over the seasons and interact with the different life forms that have become more abundant in the greener environment.
Repurposed timber makes simple benches, and rusty steel mounds stimulate the imagination. Are they lookout towers for earthworms? Incubators for dinosaur eggs? Maybe someday their secret will be discovered.
The whole project cost $80,000, funded entirely through fundraising, repurposing materials, and volunteer work. Folly Forest is a prime example that you don’t need a million-dollar budget for a great schoolyard environment.