A team of students and faculty from Fanshawe College in London, Ont., Has launched a special Poppy Project for this year’s Remembrance Month.
To keep poppies worn until Remembrance Day out of the landfill, the team created a durable poppy to honor veterans while helping the environment.
Unlike traditional plastic poppies, they are created using construction paper infused with oriental poppy seeds. People can plant these seeds in their gardens after November 11, and then germinate and bloom as flowers in the spring.
“Instead of having plastic, we have something that is going to decompose and create flowers in the spring,” project coordinator Wendy Sperry told CBC News.
The project is designed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Remembrance Poppy in Canada, as well as the 1915 poem In the fields of Flanders by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.
“History is really important”
Sperry, a professor in the School of Design at Fanshawe College, has been working on poppy formulas for over 6 months.
She says the poppies are not only focused on wars, but also symbolize remembrance, veterans and Canada’s participation.
Sperry and his team created kits for 30 schools in the Thames Valley District School Board and some Montessori schools to educate students about the impact of world wars and their importance.
The kits include materials for making the poppies. Each is referred to as a “top secret mission,” intended to create an interactive activity for children while arousing their interest in the origins of the poppy. More than 500 kits have been distributed to schools.
“I think the story is really important, that we understand the sacrifices that have been made,” Sperry said. “World War I was meant to be a war that ended all wars… and obviously that did not happen, so young people should be aware of the history and purpose of these wars.
Poppies as a symbol of hope and remembrance
The project received support from various faculties at the College, as well as the Greater London community, including the Royal Canadian Legion, who all donated funds and items to bring this project to life.
Brian Harris, the Poppy Provincial President of the Royal Canadian Legion, thinks this is a great way to involve young people in learning about the meaning of the poppy.
“The best way to involve the youngest is a hands-on approach, and this poppy project in Fanshawe does just that,” said Harris. “Not only can they create their own poppy, but in the process, they learn the history of the poppy and what it stands for.”
Sperry’s goal is for others to see the flowers growing in their garden as a symbol of hope and remembrance.
Fanshawe College holds a poppy exhibit all week. It includes 20 student-made poppies that are auctioned off, as well as poppy seeds available by donation.