On Sunday, April 7, representatives of Toronto Master Gardeners joined with 11 other horticulturally related community organizations to welcome and inform the volunteer “Neighbourhood Park Rangers” who will work with homeowners, businesses and other organizations in Toronto’s Ward 19 this summer, with the goal of creating what has been dubbed Canada’s first “Homegrown National Park”.
The Home Grown National Park initiative originated with The Suzuki Foundation and is designed to engage Ward 19 residents and businesses to grow, restore and enhance urban green space within the area. Studies have shown that green space can help improve the health and quality of life of local residents, reduce stress and crime and offer other benefits.
More than a dozen organizations have partnered with the Foundation to work on this 6-month campaign to create a vibrant green corridor following the former path of Garrison Creek, one of the city’s most important lost rivers.
The Foundation hopes that the success of this pilot project in “Bringing Nature Home” will lead to similar initiatives elsewhere in Toronto and across Canada.
In addition to Toronto Master Gardeners, the organizations present at the April 7 Park Ranger training event included:
- Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
- Not Far from the Tree
- Green Roofs for Healthy Cities
- The Toronto Beekeepers Cooperative
- Cultivate TO
- Fort York National Historic Site
- Park People
- Toronto Green Community
- Bird Studies Canada
The event was designed to connect the volunteer Rangers with the services and resources available in the city. Starting April 8, the Rangers will spread the word and spur green activities, such as:
- Bringing together neighbours to create a pollinator corridor on their block by adding native plants and flowers to each property;
- Encouraging local businesses or institutions to plant trees or create a garden on their property;
- Recruiting volunteers to clean up a local park or plant native trees and plants
- Encouraging restaurants to use locally grown produce to create a “homegrown” special for their seasonal menu;
- Rallying condo residents to plant balcony gardens or create a rooftop garden
The Toronto Master Gardeners’ Ask a Master Gardener InfoLine and website will be great resources for the Rangers and the estimated 2,500-3,000 individuals with whom they are expected to engage. It is anticipated that there will be several related public events between now and the end of September, where Toronto Master Gardener may be available to answer gardening questions.
Stay tuned for further announcements!