Green drive with a heart

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 October, 2007, 12:00am

Award-winning roof garden shows students can help the environment

Students are growing plants on their school rooftops to beautify the surroundings and improve the environment.

With schools in Hong Kong having little open space, the rooftop is an ideal place for students to practise their gardening skills.

True Light Girls' College, Yau Ma Tei, has shown the way with its award-winning effort.

'Our school joined the All-Hong Kong Primary and Secondary School Roof Gardening Competition organised by the Hong Chi Association last year,' says science teacher and gardening club adviser, Christina Cheng Wai-sze.

'We recruited about 80 Form One students to work on the project. Besides building up students' interest in gardening, we wanted to raise their environmental awareness by reusing everyday materials.'

The theme of their project is 'Planting green genes in the heart'.

It comprises four different plants with colourful flowers that make up the school's initials, 'TLGC'.

To enhance the visual effect, the students placed recycled plastic bottles around the edges of the four letters.

The bottles were filled with stones from a school construction site.

Bricks from a discarded barbecue pit were used to make the path, which is shaped like a DNA strand. The garden covers about a sixth of the school's rooftop.

The students' 'green paradise' won them all four titles in the competition - 'Best Roof Greening Design', 'Best Roof Greening Report', 'Best Creativity in Roof Garden Design' and 'Best Team Spirit'.

'The girls learned gardening techniques, as well as how to fully use resources,' Ms Cheng says.

She says the students helped spread the green message among schoolmates.

Some of the students' parents provided recycled materials.

Zumi Hui Wing-wa, 13, says: 'I've always been interested in gardening and the project gave me a chance to plant. I read books about gardening and surfed the internet for information on how to take care of roof gardens.'

Elsa Tsang Shong, 13, says the students built up team spirit during the project.

'I joined the competition out of curiosity, but it was great fun. I was so touched when I first saw the finished garden. I'm so proud to be part of the team who created such a beautiful garden.'

Emily Choi Yi-chi, also 13, says she's happy their efforts won praise. 'Our teachers and classmates were very supportive. They gave us lots of comments and encouragement.'

Emily says the project showed that students could do their part to slow down climate change.

'Global warming is becoming more serious. I know that plants can help absorb heat,' she says.

'The temperature in rooms beneath the roof garden was on average 2.5 degrees Celsius lower than in other rooms.'

The students also planted organic vegetables on the rooftop.

'Organic farming causes less harm to plants and consumers. We're planning to grow fruits later,' Zumi says.

She says the students shared their harvest, including pumpkin, cabbage, tomato and peanuts, with their family and friends.

TLGC students will join the competition again this year.

The new 'gardeners', who are mostly Forms One and Three students, will get guidance from members of the award-winning team.

'We are planning to build another rooftop garden of a similar size,' says Ms Cheng.