Milwaukee Public Schools Hosts River Trail School Urban Forest Ribbon Cutting

River Trail Schools GRAEF

Milwaukee Public Schools (October 6, 2022) - A ribbon cutting and tree planting at River Trail School on October 6 is marking the opening of installations that will help capture stormwater and irrigate a small forest of about 100 shrubs and trees. The upgrades on school grounds are designed to control rain runoff, thus protecting Lake Michigan, while helping to grow chestnut, Asian pear, and hazelnut trees. Students will learn agriculture techniques, horticulture, and the business aspects of preparing fruit and nuts for market. The project is a partnership among MPS, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and Corvias.

“This project shows students how problems become solutions,” said River Trail Principal Robin Swan. “They will see firsthand how stormwater management can not only reduce runoff, but support our forest in producing food such as fruit and nuts.”

Students will enjoy hands-on experiences with business and agriculture right in the city of Milwaukee and will learn about careers in agriculture that are often overlooked by children who grow up in large cities. “This is a unique opportunity to expose students in the city to career options in agriculture, while also showing them how green technology and businesses can operate in real-world settings,” said Tim Toohey, Managing Director, Corvias. “We are proud to partner with MMSD and MPS to bring this incredible resource to students and the community.”

Programming at River Trail will educate students about green infrastructure through the natural stormwater management system incorporated in the design of the urban forest. The trees, along with a series of berms and swales, can mitigate more than 170,000 gallons of stormwater during extreme rain events while providing a water supply for the vegetation. Students will learn ways stormwater runoff can be captured, stored, and infiltrated to support more than 100 new trees and shrubs every time it rains.

“The River Trail School Sustainable Production Forest will further develop the established partnership between MPS and MMSD to green MPS school yards,” said Bre Plier, MMSD Manager of Sustainability. “This partnership is incredibly important to MMSD, not only to manage water where it falls, keeping it out of our sewers, but also to make curriculum connections for students on how to care for our waterways and environment.”

River Trail School is a leader in the city for agricultural sciences education in grades K–8. Students study food production and the business of agriculture through curriculum and activities that integrate a pollinator garden, raised garden beds, an 80-foot-long hoop house, three hydroponics machines, a pumpkin patch, a compost program, and a self-sustaining permaculture food forest.