The entrance to École secondaire catholique Franco-Cité is about to become a much livelier place after the school installed a living wall in the front foyer this week.
The standalone, double-sided wall will be home to a variety of tropical plants and will act as the centrepiece to a lounge area for students, as well as provide educational opportunities for several different classes at the local high school.
“During the pandemic we had the discussion because we wanted to find ways to engage the students and the school at a time when everything was falling apart and the students, their mental health was not well, so that’s one of the things we wanted to put in place for them,” said Eric Gendron, Franco-Cité principal.
The idea for the wall was organized by a group of teachers, led by Brigitte Bidal. Inspired by some living walls they had seen in the Ottawa region, they reached out to Wallemi, a company based out of Rockland, to come up with an idea that would work best for Franco-Cité.
Guillaume Brunet, president of Wallemi, came up with the design for a standing, stainless steel wall with a reservoir at the base and recirculating pump that will water the plants twice a day. The plants are each placed into felt pockets along the wall, and the material holds moisture for a while, so the plants can survive about a week without water should there be an issue.
Students from the environmental studies class will be tasked with overseeing the wall once it’s installed, including refilling the reservoir once a month or so.
“We had a meeting with the students that decided which plants they wanted,” said Brunet. “The goal is to have as much biodiversity as possible, that’s why we have so many varieties in the living wall. The students will be able to pick up some of those clippings and learn all different types of plants. There’s a lot of plants here that students have never seen and that’s the goal with the system… it’s plants you don’t see in Canada, and they thrive only inside, so that’s why for a living wall, they’re the best suited plants for this environment.”