Belvedere is a Green Flag Eco-School
Environmental Education at Belvedere
Belvedere has an award-winning eco-program that includes a student-led Green Team, daily composting and recycling, a tree nursery, a meadow, butterfly gardens, a pumpkin lifecycle garden, raised beds for vegetable/herb gardens, bluebird monitoring, an outdoor classroom with a native plant garden, a permeable paver patio and four covered tables. We've also adopted adjacent Belvedere Park as an outdoor classroom; we maintain a trail in the park and work closely with the Fairfax County Park Authority to remove invasive plants and replace them with natives. In 2017-18, we will again be raising trout for the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Contact our Environmental Education Teacher
Do you need community service hours or are you a Scout? We can always use help, whether it's donated goods, cash or sweat equity. High-need items include garden gloves (esp. youth sizes), shovels, rakes, watering cans, seeds, native plants, and leaf mulch. High-need deeds include weeding and mulching our gardens, mulching our paths and filling the Gator Bags of our 13 new tree seedlings. If you'd like to make a donation, help on the grounds, or are in search of service hours or a Girl Scout/Eagle Scout award, get in touch with our environmental education teacher. Cash and in-kind donations made to our PTA are tax-deductible.
Outdoor Learning Spaces
Outdoor classroom and pollinator gardens
The outdoor classroom used to be a mostly neglected courtyard of grass with a few bushes and trees on the edges. Thanks to about 100 volunteers and generous grants from the Dominion Foundation, FCPS Facilities, and our own community, we transformed the turf into native plant gardens that attract butterflies and bees AND into a permeable paver patio with picnic tables that attract students and staff. On any given day, you may find a small group of students reading, ESOL students practicing vocabulary, mentors meeting with their mentees, classes learning about habitats or soil, second-graders collecting milkweed for their monarch caterpillars, fourth-graders checking the temperature on our big thermometer, or teachers finding a few minutes of peace and quiet. Just about anything can happen out here.
Belvedere also has other gardens designed just to attract pollinators. One is at the school's main entrance. Another is in the back, on the way to the playground and near the trailers. That one mostly features milkweed and sunflowers. It also is home to our pumpkin lifecycle garden, where several years ago we let a few pumpkins decompose. They have been decomposing, sprouting, growing, decomposing, sprouting and growing ever since.
FCPS initially planted the meadow to prevent flooding in the houses down the hillside. We've since expanded it, connecting it to our raised beds. Classes come to the meadow to learn about soil absorption, soil conservation, erosion, stormwater runoff, root systems, habitat, pollination, lifecycles, biodiversity, adaptation, ecosystem functions -- the list goes on. It's also turning out to be a fun place to watch wildlife. A flock of goldfinches who love the black-eyed susan and coneflower seed heads has moved in. One class was able to observe deer from their classroom; a dad reported seeing two fox play in the meadow one evening. Read here to learn more about the making of our meadow.