Wintergreen Studios

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Wintergreen Studios is a wilderness education and retreat centre in South Frontenac, Ontario, located in southeastern Ontario, Canada. Year round facilities at Wintergreen are off-the-grid, and use straw-bale construction[1] and cordwood construction.[2] Wintergreen hosts gardening and wilderness programs for youth,[3] workshops on a local and international scale (past educators include: Lorna Crozier and Helen Humphreys).[4] Wintergreen also promotes community and corporate mindful living by offering sustainable facilities for meetings,[5] concerts, and retreats designed around principles of place-based education.[6] The eight buildings on the 204 acre site, part of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve[7] were designed by Rena Upitis, Professor of Education and former Dean of Education at Queen's University.[8] Rena is an authority on architecture and learning and directs Wintergreen as a not-for-profit education, research, and retreat centre. Research partners include Queen's University, Concordia University, and The Royal Conservatory.[9]


Wintergreen Studios was founded in 2007 by five founding directors. Rena Upitis serves as President and CEO. Wintergreen Studios was granted charitable status in July 2008, and programming began late in 2008.

Environmentally friendly practices[edit]

The lodge is built from locally grown straw using straw-bale construction. A 3KW Solar Voltaic array and Solar hot water heater make use of southern light and the building features, including R-40 insulation, clerestory windows, and considerable thermal mass from the plastered walls and concrete foundation. One wing is sheltered with an earth-covered living roof. Recycled barn beams are featured in the design. Natural materials found on the Wintergreen site are used, such as stone, wood, and earth. "Other reclaimed and repurposed materials abound in the lodge and outbuildings: discarded copper roofing, fence posts, broken pottery, glass, cedar fence rails, stone and even plants from the surrounding meadow that adorn the living roofs."[10] A peat-based septic system is used for sewage treatment and management.


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  3. ^ The Kingston Whig Standard. Article which appeared on December 30, 2009, titled Youth Exchange: Canadians and Bolivians Live and Learn Together.
  4. ^ Making Eco-art at an Eco-lodge, by Julie Druker. Feature Article in the Frontenac News, July 16, 2009.
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  6. ^ Upitis, R. (2009). Developing ecological habits of minds through the arts. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 10(26). Retrieved [Dec 14,2010] from
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