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our programs

urban trees from seed

Since 2017, we've been growing trees from seed with children and youth. This program is accessible via a kit and an online session, or in person (our favourite!) Many thanks to the Urban Forestry Division of Toronto Parks and Recreation Department for their ongoing support of this program. As Toronto aims to get from 26% to 40% canopy cover, to support our urban wildlife, shade in summer, and beauty year round, we do our part by planting trees from seed which means that each tree is a genetically unique individual. Some will be more tolerant than others, to pest pressure, heat or cold, and urban stresses. Those will be the trees that supply seed for future generations. We are learning Anishinaabemowin names for the trees, for example, the Kentucky Coffeetree is called biizhou-aatig, Cedar is giizhik, Oak is mitigomizh. These are some of the most popular trees we grow from seed, and also PawPaw, a fantastic native fruit that tastes like a mango crossed with a banana!

We have developed and installed modular no-dig tree nurseries for the seedlings in our partner schools. These tree nurseries only require watering for the first year, and in their second summer. Then they can grow for a few years before being transplanted out to a permanent location or an interim one, if need be. Each student can take pride in their seedling. We love to imagine a parent bringing their child to the tree in future, saying "I planted this tree from seed!" Wouldn't that be amazing?

Depending on the time of year you book a program, we might be able to even go collect the seed from the tree with your students.

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Trees from Seed
kids growing
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kids growing

Kids Growing, our elementary school program, operates during the school day and uses gardening and food activities to support learning objectives. Using all five senses, from planting a tiny seed to making and eating fresh pesto or rice wraps, children’s exploration of nature and healthy food is at the heart of this program. The gardens are dynamic classrooms for vibrant hands-on learning in many subject areas. School-based programs that engage children in their class time are linked to Ontario curriculum, especially the science strands, but also math, language, art, social studies, and obviously healthy eating and healthy physical activity. Teachers book us for the workshops through an email exchange, and we support the garden learning in our workshops in much the same way as a physical education teacher supports health curriculum or a librarian supports literacy, across the grades.

 

Volunteers and staff ensure that outdoor programs are accessible and safe for teachers to bring their classes, and help teachers learn more about school gardening. Other school-based programs take place on the school grounds but are not part of formal learning in class time. They may be after school, or during the lunch recess. This supervised recreational programming is also greatly important for students, to allow for free play and exploration.

To learn more about programs, click the button below and connect with us by email.

urban roots youth

urban roots youth

Urban Roots Youth, youth-driven after-school and summer youth program, gives youth the opportunity to produce their own food, learn about compost and soil, and handle produce donations and sales. They may earn co-op or volunteer credit hours, or join the team through placements from college and university programs such as Early Childhood Education, Community Work, Nursing, and Teacher Candidates. They have opportunities for paid work, helping provide recreational programs for young children in the gardens.

 

To join the mailing list announcing upcoming programs.

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This was our second program and we loved it!

Thank you for all your hard work.

Always engaging!

Ms. Williams - Grade 4

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My students are so excited to do programs with Green Thumbs.  Can't wait to book again! Thank you!

 

Ms. Fossella - Grade 1

summer programs

summer programs

In summer, the gardens are cared for by the community through structured programming. Please note - we do not run our own summer camp, rather, we partner with other local child and youth-serving agencies to run programs.

 

Many children don’t get out of the city very much in the summer – so the cool green spaces with running water are especially compelling. Food harvested goes to volunteers, or to local market or restaurants. Food security and access is top of mind during the harvest season. Seed is collected, packaged, and then locally distributed for use next year.

Summer programs are critically important in the school garden since summer maintenance is often a barrier to success. Active programming with a focus on play, nutrition, and games turns the garden into a summer camp destination, providing healthy outdoor activities for low or no cost.

To learn more about programs, click the button below and connect with us by email.

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I loved all of the information and the slides that allowed the students to participate by answering the questions and seeing their answers move. The drawing of worms as we picture them was my favourite part.

-Ms. Andrews, Dundas Jr. Public School

grown-ups gardening
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grownups gardening

Grownups Gardening is a developing program, serving seniors in intergenerational programs, and also engaging parents and teachers more deeply in our partner schools. Grownups bring safety with more eyes on the children, and modelling healthy interactions. Our Board of Directors has always loved to be part of this program! Leading and participating in our programs ensures a healthy organization with many happy members and stakeholders, not the least of which are the adults we served as children, in their school gardens.

To learn more about programs, click the button below and connect with us by email.

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