A Breath of Fresh Air: Celebrating Nature and School Gardens


136 pages
Contains Photos, Index
ISBN 1-894549-61-5
DDC 635'.071'0713541





Photos by Robert Christie
Reviewed by Lisa M. Rohlmann

Lisa Rohlmann is a freelance writer in Shelburne, Ontario.


Elise Houghton, the author of this fine book, is an environmental
education consultant who has worked with parents and educators in an
effort to include ecological literacy in our school system. Robert
Christie is an internationally renowned photographer whose photographs
of nature, gardens, and active children illustrate every page. Margaret
Atwood’s foreword adds that personal touch of someone who’s been
there and done that. All three live in Toronto.

In a 1999 survey of 600 Toronto schools, some 150 schools responded
with descriptions of their attempts at greening their schoolyards. The
survey results inspired Houghton to produce this book, which details a
varied selection of school garden projects within the City of Toronto.
Every school is named and some of their project aims, efforts, problems,
and successes are described. For example, Humber Downs Academy undertook
an experiment with an imported predator to combat the invasive
loosestrife. Eastdale Collegiate and Brock Public School are greening
their rooftops with cold frames and raised beds in order to grow food,
improve air quality, save energy, and (believe it or not) make the roof
last longer.

The book is replete with ecological wisdom, gardening tips, quotations
from folks in the know, and plenty of beautiful photos. Among the topics
covered are the role of communities in school gardening, landscapes for
active play, habitat rehabilitation projects, and the special role of
trees. A Breath of Fresh Air is recommended for caretakers, educators,
and citizens who have the wellness of the younger generation at heart.


Houghton, Elise., “A Breath of Fresh Air: Celebrating Nature and School Gardens,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/18239.