There's always something new to discover at FortWhyte Alive.
Last month, a group of 20 inspiring volunteers — including youth and university students — worked together to plant willows along the shorelines of two lakes at FortWhyte Alive.
Participants rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty to plant over 1500 pencil-thin willow cuttings, 600 dogwood cuttings and 100 2” thick stakes by pushing, pounding or trenching them into the soil. Incredible.
Did you know? FortWhyte Alive’s unstable shorelines are a relic of our industrial past. Our five lakes are actually the remains of pits that were excavated by heavy machinery during Canada Cement Company’s clay mining operations, starting in 1911. Bulldozers and other machinery left steep shorelines behind, prone to slumping and erosion.
Over the years, a lot has changed. Through the restorative power of Mother Nature and the helping hands of countless individuals in our community, our lakeshores are now host a beautiful variety of grasses and perennials — and have served as the backdrop for many memorable moments in nature.
Still, there are sections where woody plants — such as trees and willows — have not taken root. In seeking expert advice from Manitoba Conservation District Association, we learned about the effectiveness of using willows in shoreline restoration projects throughout rural Manitoba.
Willows happen to have an almost magical cloning ability – the buds on clipped branches soaked in water will begin to take root. When planted, this new cutting will begin to grow extensive root systems which act like “nature’s rebar” to hold the soil together. Pretty cool.
A huge thank you goes out to those who donated hours, expertise and plants to make this project happen: Chris Randall of Seine-Rat River Conservation District, Audrey and Armand Belanger of East Interlake Conservation District, and Lynne and Rebekah Vickery, permaculturists and FortWhyte Alive volunteers. Thanks to our planting volunteers and to the many other FortWhyte Alive volunteers who assisted with preparation, clipping and planting, and even capturing photos of the planting workshop.
This is an inspiring example of the restorative power of Mother Nature and the impact that individuals in our community have each and every day. From all of us, thank you!
This program was made possible by the continuing support of the FortWhyte Model Watershed Project by RBC Foundation.
Want to get your hands dirty and do good? Learn more about how you can get involved by emailing email@example.com.
Freshwater Ecology Day is an annual educational experience at FortWhyte Alive open to Grade 7-12 students from across Manitoba. Our goal is to increase students’ understanding of current water issues and actions we can take to help protect water.
On September 27, 66 high school students and 12 teachers from 10 different urban and rural Manitoba schools arrived to take part in learning stations geared around water sampling, water chemistry, shoreline remediation, aquatic invasive species and invertebrates, as well as learning about the watershed we live in.
A welcome, blessing and water ceremony from Clarence and Barbara Nepinak began with a focus on the need for all of us to protect clean water.
We got muddy and wet using a water jet planter to restore a section of shoreline on our lakes with "nature's rebar," also known as willow.
We examined aquatic insects collected in our lakes and wetlands.
We checked out an amazing table of specimens of Aquatic Invasive Species for a very thorough introduction to the impact of AIS on aquatic environments.
Overall, students were left inspired to continue to learn more… whether about watersheds, aquatic life, indigenous beliefs and practices around water, or water pollution and prevention.
Thank you to the presenters for sharing their knowledge and inspiring students to understand more about water protection, and giving them a great hands-on learning experience:
Clarence and Barbara Nepinak
Pauline Gerrard and Angela Reeves – IISD – Experimental Lakes Area
Claire Hebert – Lake Winnipeg Basin Research
Candace Parks – Manitoba Sustainable Development – Aquatic Invasive Species
Candi Bezte – Manitoba Eco-Network
Armand Belanger - East Interlake Conservation District
Chris Randall – Seine Rat River Conservation District
Freshwater Ecology Day was a fun, hands-on learning opportunity offered to students free of charge, thanks to support from the RBC Foundation and in-kind donations of time and effort from our expert presenters. Thank you!
For other high school programs related to environmental science at FortWhyte Alive, check out our Riverwatch water monitoring program, or discover more hands-on science days. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our teacher mailing list.
This summer, a great crew of hard-working volunteers gathered to plant wildflowers and native prairie plants at the base of our solar array.
As interest in renewable solar energy increases across the world experiencing a changing climate, this project is an inspiring example of how otherwise unused or under-utilized land adjacent to a productive solar array can be repurposed.
The restored lands will serve as habitat for important food pollinators – who are facing habitat loss at an alarming rate – and other species.
Located next to FortWhyte Farms' apiary, this is a “sweet” good news story about how people in our community are coming together to fight climate change, restore habitat and encourage biodiversity – all within city limits.
“You have solar panels, native prairie plants, wild pollinators and honeybees all in one space, working together. It’s a really neat example of what real action toward fighting climate change and investing in biodiversity can look like,” says FortWhyte Farms Manager, Danielle Mondor.
“Climate change is real and we’re doing what we can take action and inspire people to do what they can. We really hope that this project will serve as a model and showcase what is possible, even in urban environments,” said Mondor.
Thank you to the many supporters, including generous support for this investment in solar power from Manitoba Hydro, Bullfrog Power, IG Wealth Management, and Sycamore Energy Inc, and additional support for the pollinator garden from WWF-Canada Go Wild Community Grants.
To learn more about volunteering at FortWhyte Alive, visit fortwhyte.org/volunteering.
The story of what happens when we reconnect to the natural world.
As fall approaches, so does migration season for many bird species – notably, the Canada goose.
Over the coming weeks, an influx of northern nesters from the Hudson Bay Lowlands will meet up with locally breeding geese, for an estimated peak population of 120,000 geese in Winnipeg. That’s a lot of geese.
Despite our sometimes-tense relationship with these plentiful birds, there is no denying they enhance the beauty that is autumn in Manitoba.
And there is certainly no ignoring the amazing spectacle that is the goose migration – especially at FortWhyte Alive, where thousands of geese land on our lakes each evening at sunset.
Much like the falling leaves, the movement of birds en masse is a sure sign of seasonal change. As the humid heat of summer is replaced with crisp fall air, the iconic flying "v"-formation of Canada geese becomes a common sight overhead.
At this time of year, change is everywhere. Wildlife is on the move. Trees shed their leaves. And for our species, it’s an equally big time of change. We too migrate back to school and work, start new regimens, and modify our schedules to accommodate the shorter, cooler days.
Plant or animal, autumn is a time of movement, and transformation. And we are a part of it.
Year after year, thousands join us to take some time out on a crisp, autumn evening to witness and experience the magic of fall migration. The lakes of FortWhyte Alive truly come alive with the spirit of autumn.
It’s one thing to read about migration patterns, or marvel at beautiful photographs of geese landing at sunset, but it’s another thing to experience the fall migration – to gather in community at the lakeshore to witness a force of nature that is undeniably big.
What many may not realize is that experiencing migration is a sensory experience. The sight of a stunning sunset. The smell of crisp, autumn air. The unmistakable sound of thousands of landing geese.
The magic of fall migration is that is allows us to truly connect – or reconnect – with the rhythms of the natural world.
The annual migration is an incredible spectacle, one that everyone should have the opportunity to experience first hand. It can serve to remind us how resilient nature can be and, at the same time, help remind us of our visceral connection with the planet.
From this place of connection we are better equipped to understand the environmental challenges we collectively face – and work toward creative solutions to complex problems like climate change.
So, what are you waiting for? The show is already beginning. Get outside to catch a glimpse of one of the most remarkable phenomena in all of nature. Reconnect with nature and watch the sky speak as thousands of geese land after sunset in this breathtaking display.
We believe that the act of spending time in nature allows us to remember that we are not outside of nature, but we are nature. By spending time in nature, you are creating the change we all want to see.
That’s the real magic of migration.
Wow. Words cannot express our gratitude to all of you who dined with us and supported this year’s Harvest Supper at FortWhyte Farms. The 5th annual event was our biggest feast at the farm yet, thanks to your kind support.
The goal of the Harvest Supper is to build community, and let you in on the impact that your year-round support of the farm has on youth in our community.
Thanks to you, FortWhyte Farms continues to grow youth who go on to create change in their own families and communities. The farm is a welcoming place where diverse youth come to learn about healthy food, develop job skills, learn money management and plan for long-term success.
Huge thanks to our sponsors for supporting this event:
From all of us, thank you!
Our warm thanks to:
And, finally, cheers to you for your support of this event and of FortWhyte Farms, year-round. You are making change happen by supporting youth who themselves go on to create change in their own families and communities.