The habitat goal of greenMantua is to create and maintain vibrant habitats for local wildlife. We accomplish this through tree planting, garden creation and maintenance, and education. You can read more about current efforts by joining the garden committee Facebook page.
Our Habitat Projects:
Schoolyard Habitat Preparation and Planting
In May of 2017 the garden committee first transformed the grassy area behind the school into a series of new garden habitats. In November of 2018 the garden committee built two additional garden beds, along with cleaner walkways and perimeters for the students to live, learn, and explore! For both of these stages students from all ages worked together to design the shape of the beds, prep the area, dig in preparation for planting, arrange the borders, spread the mulch, and finally plant.
Mantua, like many Fairfax County Public Schools, has several stormwater features to help control and treat stormwater runoff. One type of stormwater control at the school is a bioretention facility. Bioretention facilities are depressions in the landscape designed with specially engineered soil to filter pollutants from stormwater runoff.
Once the bioretention facility was cleared and ready for planting, ecologists Danielle Wynne and Chris Mueller arranged for 90 fifth grade students to replant the facility using 500 plants made up of five species specifically chosen to survive in the wet conditions of the bioretention facility. In addition to being able to survive in the facility, the selected plants also fit into the FCPS science curriculum.
The full‐day effort was orchestrated by 5th grade teacher Michele Sullivan, Mantua's science coordinator. "We were out there all day," Sullivan said. "The kids got their hands dirty and really had a wonderful time learning how plants can help clean the environment." Sullivan's work on this project has been highlighted by FCPS.
Mantua’s Eco Teams and Stormwater Department won a joint award for this project: “Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) - Champion Award for Public Service in the area of Innovation.” (12/14/17) The award was presented for “creating new work procedures, processes, and/or applications that enhance the effectiveness, impact, or efficiency of operations” in Fairfax County. You can read more about this effort here!
Pollinator Garden -- The first phase of the pollinator garden, about 75 square feet, was planted in 2011 with help from students in the Kids Care Club. In 2013/2014, an additional 300 square feet of shrubs and perennials were planted. In the last two years, we have planted an additional 100+ square feet, including a Sweetbay Magnolia that was gifted from Dominion Power. Students from all grades use the space to learn about pollinators, to study plants and other insects, or just for a quiet place for refection. There are over 50 different species of perennials, trees and shrubs, about half of them native plants.
Colonial Herb & Vegetable Garden -- In 2016 a raised bed was installed for growing vegetables. It is now used to plant a Colonial Garden as part of the 4th Grade’s Colonial Day. They learn about what herbs and vegetables the colonists grew—and they sow early spring crops like radishes, peas and lettuce. Before school is dismissed for summer, they come back and plant the "three sisters" (corn, bean, squash) and other summer crops—and then harvest the produce when they return in 5th grade.
Trees and Shrubs
Mantua is partnering with the Urban Forest Management Division of the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services to plant dozens of trees and shrubs. We completed the first stage of this project in May 2018 and the second stage in November 2018. Students from five different classes, ranging from Kindergarten to 5th grade, planted 96 native seedlings on the hillside behind the school. This new little forest will expand the tree buffer that helps protect Crook Branch, a stream that flows behind the school and is part of the Accotink Creek Watershed.
The seedlings include the following species:
Amelanchier canadensis (serviceberry)
Carpinus caroliniana (ironwood)
Celtis occidentalis (hackberry)
Diospyros virginiana (persimmon)
Nyssa sylvatica (black gum/tupelo)
Ostrya virginiana (Eastern hophornbeam)
Platanus occidentalis (sycamore)
Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)
Ulmus Americana (American elm)
Here is the map of the full tree planting plan at Mantua.