The Poppy Project returns

Seed paper poppies from the 2021 Poppy Project CREDIT: AMY SIMON/XFM NEWS
Not only did the college get involved with The Poppy Project, but the community as well.

The Siskind Art Gallery located in the H building at Fanshawe’s main campus had a wonderful art display of poppies for Remembrance Day. They were collecting donations for handmade poppies, and all proceeds went to The Royal Canadian Legion. Last year they raised around $2,500.

Poppies are normally made from polyester and nylon plastics which are harmful to the planet. To figure out how to make the poppy pins more sustainable, the School of Design decided to take matters into their own hands by coming up with an elegant solution.

“It was an idea that came from the sustainability course I teach,” Wendy Sperry, a professor at the School of Design and the organizer for this art display said. “Take something as meaningful as the Remembrance Day Poppy and make it into a biodegradable material. The poppies are made with handmade paper infused with poppy seeds.”

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When Remembrance Day is finished and people take off their poppies, all they have to do is place it in a garden and watch it next year as it grows into poppy plants.

According to Sperry, not only did the college get involved with the making of these poppies, but the community got involved as well.

“We have young students involved in making poppies in their classroom. We have put together kits including all materials you need to make the poppy and instruction for teachers to use. 1,500 kits went out to school this year, in London, Toronto, and Ottawa,” Sperry said.

The kits included instructions, brief history of the poppy and John McCrae, red construction paper, poppy seeds, psyllium, and pins. Students from the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB), London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB), and Montessori School in London also took part in the Poppy Project this year, with schools integrating the sustainable poppies into lessons about Remembrance Day.

“It’s exciting to see this program grow throughout Ontario,” said Dana Morningstar, associate dean of Fanshawe’s School of Design. “The poppy is an important symbol in Canada. Professor Wendy Sperry has created this new, sustainable design and is sharing it with young students, which is such a meaningful way to honour our veterans.”

The poppies were on display from Nov. 7-11. Biography posters on notable veterans made by local Montessori schools were on display as well. There were student-made artistic poppy interpretations up for bid in a silent auction held Nov. 11.

“The gallery was very successful. People came in because it was bright and colourful,” Perry explained. “Also, international students learned about the meaning of the poppy and why we wear it for Remembrance Day.”

Sperry’s goal is for others to view the flowers that grow in their yards as a symbol of hope and remembrance.