Photo: Homegrown rain gardens win Toronto innovation award

A team of neighbours led by Ranger Marc Yamaguchi planted the first rain garden in Toronto's Danforth East Village in June 2015

By Jode Roberts, communications

Part of the David Suzuki Foundation's Homegrown National Park Project, the Rain Gardens of Danforth East Village is a pilot project that aims to beautify a network of urban yards while making them easier to maintain, more attractive to bees, birds and butterflies, and better able to handle severe storms and extreme heat.

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In June, the project won the Toronto Foundation's 2015 Vital Innovation Award, which celebrates and supports ideas with the potential to enhance Torontonians' health and well-being.

The new rain gardens will benefit 10 properties in the City of Toronto's East York-Danforth Village, where homes sit atop generally sandy soils and former waterways that once emptied into Ashbridges Bay. They'll feature locally adapted wildflowers, shrubs and trees that will need little to no watering once established. A landscaped, shallow depression in each yard will naturally absorb and filter stormwater, preventing flooding.

Volunteer Homegrown Park Ranger Marc Yamaguchi and local residents and volunteers planted the first front yard rain garden as part of 100-in-1-day on June 6, 2015. They hope to create a low-maintenance model for other residents to adopt and adapt in their yards across the city.

The Homegrown National Park Project is an effort to re-imagine the city as a National Park, one simple, community-led, green intervention at a time. For more information, visit

August 6, 2015

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Sep 23, 2015
3:04 PM

We live in Port Credit — have had lots of flooding issues in the last few years. Would love to share this idea with more people. Saw the video but can’t really see what exactly you are doing and it doesn’t really explain it (that I caught) except for the native plantings and lots of mulch. What else did you do and how can I get people here involved in this? I think it would really take off. Thanks so much.

Aug 08, 2015
9:04 AM

Spotted my first Monarch yesterday in my milkweed garden and then #2 this morning!!! Yay!!

Aug 07, 2015
3:18 PM

I believe initiatives like the Homegrown project should be implemented across Canada. I live in an agriculture area in Eastern Ontario, and presently the farmers are clear cutting our forests to expand their fiels. Apparently Ontario is supposed to implement a ban on clear cutting, so the big scale farmers are accelerating their expansions. We used to have a lot of milkweed in this area but now you would be hard pressed to find any. I Know that you have a program supplying milk weed plants for $5.00 in Toronto. It would be nice to have access to those plants in this area. My land of 50 acres used to be full of monarch butterflies. Not anymore!

Aug 07, 2015
12:28 PM

awesome idea and can be done anywhere. I live in Tucson and there is a non-profit plant nursery devoted to desert plants hat provide for bees and other wild life.

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