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H&M rolls up sleeves for sustainability on campus

New sustainable initiatives have begun to flourish at the Daniel J. Patterson Campus, thanks to a recent donation from H&M Canada.

The popular fashion retailer donated $16,3652.60 to green space restoration at Niagara College.

“This is a wonderful example of community partnerships where organizations are coming together to facilitate and make positive environmental impacts in our local communities,” said NC Sustainability Manager Taryn Wilkinson. “We are grateful for this generous donation that will support Niagara College’s commitment to climate action and environmental conservation by creating valuable opportunities for students and our college community to learn more about nature-based solutions that have positive climate impacts on our campus and in our community.”

The funds donated by H&M Canada add to a $6,000 grant NC received from WWF-Canada to support the College’s Seed Orchard project.

“Native plants and seeds are essential to restore habitat for local wildlife and sequester carbon. We’re thrilled to support Niagara College in their efforts to lead and encourage conservation in their community,” said Kate Landry, Senior Manager, Community Action at WWF-Canada.

NC’s Office of Sustainability is working with faculty and students from the School of Environment and Horticulture to install a long-term garden where they can harvest seeds for future campus plantings and share them with the community through a ‘seed library.’

The seeds will be collected by NC Sustainability Ambassadors and volunteers from WWF-Canada’s Living Planet @ Work program and will be curated and distributed through the Office of Sustainability. Seeds will also be used for outreach activities. For example, seeds from NC’s pollinator garden were donated to the St. Catharines Downtown Association for its Go Green! Downtown Promenade launch event in June 2022.

While a long-term plan is in the works, the Seed Orchard project is already underway on campus. During the spring, a variety of plants were added to a temporary garden site near the Teaching Greenhouse including Round-head Bush, Foxglove Beardtongue, Large Smooth Aster, Virginia Strawberry, Virginia Mountain Mint, and Little Bluestem.

“The seed orchard afforded me, as a student Sustainability Technician, the opportunity to lead and participate in a meaningful climate action and biodiversity project, – Lindsay Taylor, student

“The seed orchard afforded me, as a student Sustainability Technician, the opportunity to lead and participate in a meaningful climate action and biodiversity project,” said Sustainability Technician Lindsay Taylor, who volunteered as a Sustainability Ambassador. She graduated from Environmental Technician – Field and Laboratory (Co-op) in June and began the Ecosystem Restoration program in September. “Would love to see this, and similar, projects continue at Niagara College.”

The College’s Office of Sustainability plans to incorporate the seed orchard into a larger pollinator garden network on campus to be maintained by a variety of stakeholders, such as students participating in the Sustainability Ambassador program or groups such as NC Stewards and Sustainable Agriculture who have expressed interest in participating with plant maintenance activities.

Wilkinson noted that the donation from H&M will continue to support the ongoing maintenance of the garden and future plantings, creating opportunities and other programming activities for students to get involved along the way.

Funds from H&M will also be used to support maintenance of the pollinator gardens on campus, as well as a habitat projects at NC’s wetland system, including habitat structures, native plantings and species monitoring.

H&M raised the funds to donate to NC during its opening weekend the Pen Centre, St. Catharines location in April.