Ranger Update

It’s been a few months since I last wrote about my involvement with the David Suzuki Foundation’s Homegrown National Park Project. Being a Ranger certainly keeps me busy. Between helping out at our main events like Pizza Nights in Christie Pits, the #GotMilkweed campaign, the Toronto Urban Roots Festival and our upcoming outdoor screening of Project Wild Thing in Fort York (to name a few…), there are several Ranger sub-groups working on specific urban gardening projects.

Project Green Sky is “an initiative to promote “off-the-ground growing” (green roofs and balcony/vertical gardens) in the heart of Toronto by cultivating a rich network of engaged individuals and organizations. We believe that we can work with urban architecture to increase the amount of accessible green space, support our native ecosystem, and generate food for our local communities.”

Some of us are doing strictly balcony/terrace gardens, others are doing a number of off-the-ground projects like green walls and moss graffiti; and I’m keeping the first year simple by trying to engage the condo community in any way I can. In CityPlace, we’re piloting our first ever Gardening Committee with the CityPlace Resident’s Association, the City of Toronto, and Toronto Community Housing. Projects in Canoe Landing Park, our main green space, include a Canadiana-themed native plant garden, wildflower-lined street medians and a pumpkin patch. I’m hoping to gauge some interest around a balcony gardening program next spring. With the TCH buildings, I’m providing support for rooftop community garden initiatives.

Canoe Landing Project #1: Pollinator Hill
Canoe Landing Project #1: Pollinator Hill, garlic mustard removal in progress.

Getting condo communities engaged in creative gardening interventions has its challenges. I’m learning lots about gardening with native species, project and stakeholder management, recruiting volunteers, fundraising, and conflict resolution with a few neighbors no one will ever be able to please. I’m also dealing with significant delays as it’s the first year and there are many kinks to work out. We’re hoping to start planting next week. Better late than never!

Despite some frustrations, the general response to our work has been overwhelmingly positive. Our sense of community and neighborhood identity is growing stronger every day. When I first moved into my condo last year, it was lonely and difficult adjusting to a neighborhood still under-construction. This summer, the buildings are fully-occupied and we have a number of new restaurants, shops, services and community activities including Farmers Markets, festivals, group exercise, socials, and much more thanks to an awesome group of talented and devoted community leaders.

I really do love it here and can’t wait to see what our results look like at the end of the season. Until then, keep tabs on general HGNP events via Facebook!

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