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Tiny but mighty

Halifax’s newest child care centre aims welcome kids into a natural, local and eco-focused classroom.


Jillian Farris’ centre is as green as she can make it. - SCOTT BLACKBURN
  • Scott Blackburn
  • Jillian Farris’ centre is as green as she can make it.

With her mind on the next generation, Jillian Farris is joining the force of small businesses that are helping to paint Gottingen Street green. She spent the winter patiently awaiting, and plotting the arrival of her eco-conscious child care centre, A Tiny Lab, which will move into the work-in-progress 2172 Gottingen Street---the same building that'll house a north-end office for The Hub. The facility itself will be a doozy, with loads of natural light, energy efficient appliances, low VOC paint and cork flooring souped up with in-floor radiant heat. But that commitment to environment goes beyond the floor, walls and ceiling. With 15 years of experience in early childhood education behind her, Farris' decision to make A Tiny Lab green-centric came down to a reflection of her own lifestyle, and what she wants for her one-year-old daughter.

"It was just really important to me to have a child care centre that reflected our family's values, and the way we live," she says. "It comes down to doing our best to take care of things inside and outside of the classroom. It was really important to me that those values were a big part of the centre."

That classroom full of inquisitive little minds will welcome children from 18 months to five years to not only learn about local food, recycling, composting and more, but the to practice environmental consciousness at a hands-on level, through details like an indoor, wall-planter for the class' own veggie garden and limiting the use of plastic toys. "It's about finding ways to get them to connect to things outside themselves, like using things that don't use as much packaging or having a connection to where their food comes from," says Farris. Through an emergent curriculum---which fosters the childrens' own interests and questions within the lesson plan---it won't only be Farris' values directing the class, but students' bright ideas and inspirations, too.

While the first day at the Lab is dependent on when construction wraps up, Farris is aiming for a start in May or June. And she's still recruiting wee ones to join her. "We're really excited to be a part of the community," she says. "It's a perfect fit for us, to be part of a neighbourhood that's changing and growing."

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