NC branches out: tree planting edible orchard projects highlight commitment to sustainability

Niagara College marked Earth Day today by announcing two special initiatives aimed at environmental sustainability and the enhancement of the community.

One will see students assisting with an important community development while the other will see the development of an on-campus edible orchard.

In a joint initiative between Niagara College Goodwill Industries and Cordage Green volunteers will gather on Arbor Day (April 26) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to plant a variety of trees at Plymouth Park in Welland. The overall goal of the program is to bring a positive environmental impact to a community project while helping to build relationships between Niagara College students and the community.

The project has also brought together a group of NC alumni as project leads. Jeffrey Sinclair (Bachelor of Applied Business 2012) is the community engagement coordinator in NC’s Centre for Student Engagement and Leadership which is partnering with the College’s Sustainability Committee – represented by Gina Pannunzio (Environmental Management and Assessment 2013). Christina Lajeunesse Goodwill Industries’ community engagement coordinator is a graduate of NC’s Recreation and Leisure Studies program (2012).

The project will also include a series of workshops – the first which took place April 10 served as an introduction for the project partners and provided an overview of biodiversity in the Niagara region. The second on April 23 will look at tree identification planting techniques and tree care and the third on May 7 will address the future of biodiversity in Niagara. The workshops take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Goodwill Community Centre at 1Churchill Ave. Welland.

The project is made possible through funding from the Niagara Community Foundation.

A second initiative will see the planting of an edible orchard on the grounds of the Welland Campus.

Fruit trees will be planted on the southwest portion of the campus near the existing Hope Garden and will serve as both an educational and community resource. While providing food for area food banks the orchard will also serve as a living laboratory for students from Niagara College and local elementary and high schools providing opportunities to learn about growing and orchard techniques as well as applied research projects.

The project funded by Tree Canada will also include the planting of edible greens within the existing green roof on the College’s Applied Health Institute.

“These are projects that combine two important priorities at Niagara College: environmental sustainability and providing students with opportunities to gain leadership experience by participating in community projects” said Lesley Calvin manager of NC’s Centre for Student Engagement and Leadership.

“The positive environmental and educational impacts of these projects will be felt well beyond our campus grounds” added Taryn Wilkinson NC’s sustainability coordinator. “It’s a great opportunity to engage our students and the community.”

Environmental sustainability is a key priority at Niagara College. NC has undertaken a series of initiatives aimed at incorporating sustainability into all college operations.

In 2011 the College set five sustainability targets for the next five years: to cut paper consumption by half achieve a 65 percent diversion rate for waste (achieved in 2012) achieve a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a five percent reduction in water use. The College has banned the sale of bottled water on campus and incorporated several renewable-energy technologies into its operations including geothermal heat and solar power. In 2013 NC earned Carbonzero Certified status for its Wine Visitor + Education Centre. NC has also identified the ongoing incorporation of sustainable practices and technologies as a key priority in its 2013-2016 Strategic Plan which can be viewed online at .

In November 2013 Niagara College earned a Bronze rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) through its Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) a transparent self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences advanced technology media applied health and community safety supported by unique learning enterprises in food wine beer horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit


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Niagara College
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Julie Greco
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Niagara College
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