The Homegrown National Park Project had another great year in 2015.
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In March, we trained our third troop of keen volunteer Homegrown Park Rangers. Most live along the old Garrison Creek corridor in Toronto's downtown west end but, for the first time, we also recruited from other neighbourhoods, including Willowdale, Junction, Danforth East Village and Dallington — and Ranger Lori from Brampton!
The fresh recruits hatched new projects and contributed to ongoing events and activities. Highlights include: the award-winning Rain Gardens of East Danforth Village, which transformed ten front yards into bee-friendly gardens designed to absorb excess stormwater; the continuing Community Canoe project, which landed another dozen canoe planters in parks, schools, a church and a café; and the sunny spring Butterfly Block Festival, which drew a crowd of more than 10,000 people for art, bikes, butterflies, wildflowers and a whole lot of milkweed.
Ranger-led projects continued to bring wildflowers and native plants to both private spaces, such as balconies, yards and corporate grounds, and public lands, including Upper Junction, Manitou Park and the West Toronto Railpath.
Rangers guided educational walks on green roofs and through parks and ravines, and hosted community festivals such as the Brampton Block Party and Pollinating Picnic at Little Norway Park. They camped out with twenty families at the second Homegrown Jamboree and finished the season with an epic musical parade through four city parks — the third annual Homegrown Park Crawl.
Besides plenty of local and international media coverage, in 2015 the Homegrown National Park Project won several awards, including a Vital Innovation Award for the Rain Gardens of East Danforth Village, the 2015 Pollinator Advocacy Award for Canada from the North American Pollinator Protection Council and the Canadian Museum of Nature's 2015 Nature Inspiration Award. Congratulations all around!
The Park Ranger crew will be back for more fun in 2016. Check out davidsuzuki.org/homegrown for this year's events and projects.