The Roots & Living Waters Project

The Living Waters Project creatively, interactively, and collaboratively explores and discovers the story of water in a Mississauga school community. Taking place inside The Roots garden, children in grades 1-5 completed workshops that included drawing, building, and planting in the garden as an access point for discussion around our connection and relationship to water.

I want to thank the Art Gallery of Mississauga and TD Friends of the Environment for providing the funding.

Here is my wrap up video. It has been fantastic, I hope that entire school community continues to enjoy the garden as it grows through the years.


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The Promise Sign. Thumb printed by students.





Building the sign and prepping the bottles.












Still to come (spring 2017) is a large rain capturing structure installed in the garden.

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The Roots Garden project  is an outdoor education space that allows students to connect with the curriculum through breaths of fresh air and renewed excitement for their natural environment. Built as a collaborative project, all the students from grade 1-5 should be proud of the space they have created.

I want to thank the Art Gallery of Mississauga and TD Friends of the Environment for providing the funding.

Located at Corsair Public School in Mississauga, The Roots Garden project was designed using all native plants for low maintenance and drought resistance. I want to thank Karen from Native Plants of Claremont for all the guidance and plants.

Milkweed was planted in the hope of supporting the monarch butterfly as it struggles to survive against all the pesticides we inject into the planet. Planted also are Grey Headed Coneflower, Wild Bergamot, Lance Leaved Coreopsis, Dense Blazing Star, Harebell, Prairie Smoke, Wild Columbine, and Smooth Aster.

I removed 1 rotten log and added 2 for full class seating.
The space was jus dirt. The kids hauled in gravel for the pathways and installed a border.

A boxed garden area was added and the logs primed for painting.

A row of new cedars were planted to provide privacy from the road.

The kids are asked to paint one log with what they would expect to see in a 'dirty city.' Litter, to many cars, smog, only buildings with little green space are some of the ideas they came up with.

And of course, a 'clean city' brought ideas like lots of nature and animals, no litter or cars.

A second 'community garden' is added that will not be planted during the garden instal, but instead are offered to individual classes to plant during a regular class. 

The soil needed to be turned several times with small shovels provided to each student.


Plant details and planting techniques are shared and demonstrated.

"Who wants to haul top soil!"

Why native plants is discussed and painting techniques shared.



Classes broken into teams to paint various projects.


The Roots sign painted by two very focus students.

The Community Garden boxes painted by several classes.

What messages do the students want to share with each other.

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I think they have the right idea.
Installation was completed May 2015 and is project is ongoing, or should I say ongrowing. Butterflies have already been spotted. :) cm

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The Thinking Garden is a meditative space that the students of Fairview Public school can go to connect with nature. Built as a collaborative project involving all the students from grade 1 through 5, this legacy project offers the students a space to reflect and engage their natural environment.

This project was part of my Artist in Residence at the Art Gallery of Mississauga and was funded by the Trillium Foundation. I would like to thank both of them for their support. The students and staff all did a fantastic job of making this project a reality.

The existing school yard.

240 feet of edging to create the spiral path.

The teachers coming out to help sink the for 120 feet! Great teamwork.

End of the first day. First pole for the double sided chalk board sunk.
Getting the small logs painted and the base coat on the larger logs.

Students working on design for the 6 stations.
Here the grade 4/5 classes respond to my "Call for submission" as they individually had to sketch out designs for the 6 stations. I gave them the guidelines for each station and explained that there would be one overall design chosen with runners-ups.

We worked on location the entire week except for one rainy morning.

The design work really pushed the kids to think about how to visually engage the subject.

Physically digging the ditch for the edging was a necessary part of the project,
and a really fun one for the grade 2's.


The grade 1's painted what they loved about nature
onto these slices of log from a fallen tree.
The design competitions lasted for 2 days.

End of day Wednesday. Path completed with mulch.
The wining design now start getting painted. Here we see the start
of the Clean City. Here everyone respects nature.

The results of the grade 1's log painting. Later they are spread along the path.

Landscaping also required. 


The beginning of the Dirty City. No recycling,
reducing, or reusing happening here.



Students being introduced and given a tour of The Thinking Garden.

Double sided chalk board signed by students.

Final work done on the large logs.


Station 1 - "What do you see?'

Station 3 - "Do you want to help?"

The Thinking Garden! Creativity, hard work, and a job well done.







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