Landscapers in Lake Oswego Help Beautify Local School Grounds
When an opportunity to help the environment and your children presents itself, you have to act. As the Chief Operating Officer at Landscape East & West, I could not ignore the efforts that parents, administration, and students were putting into overhauling the interior and exterior of Hallinan Elementary School, especially since my own children attend. I am proud to use my Portland landscaping expertise to assist in an Oregon Green School certification and towards the Hallinan Improvement Project (HIP).
Hallinan Elementary became an Oregon Green School in 2009 and it was truly an honor to help further this initiative. Below are some of the highlights of our ongoing participation in the process.
In 2010 Landscape East & West, along with motivated parents, built organic garden boxes in the hopes of inspiring children by providing them with the tools to learn more about how food is grown and how this process can benefit all involved. Because the values children learn early in life stick with them well through adulthood, I am thrilled that Hallinan reinforces the green values that we teach our family at home. With the help of the administration and parents we were able to turn a small project into a local community movement, which continues today!
To further this cause, we setup four rain barrels that store the water that flows off the school’s large roof, which decreased the amount of water that gutters pour onto the ground when it rains. To make it even simpler to water the plants in the community garden, we connected pumps to the barrels, which directed the water to the garden boxes. We also set up an automatic irrigation system for the school’s community garden using this rainwater harvest. In 2013, nonprofit Oregon Green Schools named Hallinan as a premier-level school, the top ranking that any school can receive.
Portland Landscaping at Its Best
This last summer (2015), the grounds at Hallinan Elementary needed a lot of TLC. An army of parents, which included my construction manager (who has four children that attend Hallinan) and I, sought to make the school’s landscaping look more inviting. Dozens of people worked hard to pull weeds and replace dead shrubs with more attractive greenery. As an award-winning Portland and Hillsboro landscaping company, Landscape East & West was the obvious choice for helping Hallinan Elementary
The Hallinan Gardens
The effects of becoming an Oregon Green School allowed Hallinan’s students and staff learn that it’s easy being Eco-friendly! They learned about recycling, waste reduction, energy-saving, and water-conserving programs as well as the difference between compostable items, recyclable items, and plain old garbage. What does this mean? Now Hallinan students know how to recycle their leftover lunches, paper towels, and more. In fact, the students “audit” school’s trash every year to ensure they’re on the right track to resource savings. Of course, the learning hasn’t stopped!
One of the real “wins” of working with the school was being able to assist with their community garden. Hallinan Elementary’s community garden is an organic vegetable garden that is now entering its fourth growing season. Its installation is what helped classify Hallinan as an Oregon Green School. To make extra sure the learning never stops and the veggies keep growing, we installed a fence that surrounds the garden boxes to protect the produce from deer.
Each class at Hallinan gets their own planter boxes so they can plant and tend to whatever types of vegetables, fruits, and herbs they like. One of the biggest highlights of 2015 was when Chef Gregory Gourdet from season 12 of “Top Chef” and urban farmer Chris Starkus taught the students to grow items such as thyme, icebox watermelons, and fava beans, an event that The Oregonian covered. Gourdet and Starkus returned when the produce ripened to show the students how to make meals with them.
Hallinan uses the produce that the students grow to make healthy school meals. It’s a great way to show the kids where their food originates, making the farm-to-table concept a reality. The students’ families also used the produce in a harvest festival-type event and created treats for all to share like fresh corn, salsa, squash dishes, and kale chips.
Hallinan Elementary is a good example of how parents, students, and the community can join together to make a big difference for current and future students, as well as the environment. With a large percent of parental involvement, my children are lucky to attend a school where so many caring people look out for their best interests. The best thing about this success story is that it’s possible for any school.
Dylan Pollock is Landscape East & West’s Chief Operating Officer and enjoys contributing to his local community and sharing his knowledge and expertise to create a greener and healthier space for all involved.
Images Courtesy of The Hallinan Gardens Facebook Page