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News 2006
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2006 News

posted December 10, 2006

The Foodshare Youth Teaching Garden

Foodshare, which for many years operated out of a warehouse on Eastern Avenue, has now moved in beside the Royal Conservatory of Music at the old Brockton High School on Croatia Street. Foodshare have always worked with youth in their food projects, and they want to put a 10 meter-by-fifteen-meter vegetable and flower garden into the southwest corner of the park, near the shortcut to the mall. It seemed like a nice show-and-tell display of non-standard vegetables, to be cared for through their youth projects, but some near neighbours of the park, who are also opponents of the bio-toilet, felt it was too much for the park.

Foodshare has a history of growing beautiful gardens, so this winter there will be a display showing what they do and why. Opponents of the project are welcome, even encouraged, to post their material too.

posted October 16, 2006

Park Gardens Put to Bed

The wet summer and cool fall slowed down the park tomatoes, but the 31 new trees planted by City Forestry seemed very happy about all that moisture. Park staff Jenny Cook is the garden coordinator, and she’s now working with 8 high school students from Inglenook High School to get all the gardens ready for winter.

The Parks maintenance crew is helping too. This year they will convert three more garden sections back to lawn. These gardens are left over from the heyday of volunteer gardener Arie Kamp’s park gardening activities. Arie used to come to the park at four a.m. and work until dusk. He collected seeds from all the best flowerbeds in the city, and planted them at the park. Every time we turned around, he had added another flowerbed.

Arie's morning glories on the oven

Now that he’s eighty, Arie has cut back, doing mainly morning-glories at the park (yes, all those beautiful sky-blue flowers semi-hiding the bake-oven were planted by Arie), as well as some private gardens in the neighbourhood. He still rides his bike!

Although no one can keep the hours that Arie put into the park gardens, and therefore most of his gardens are being re-converted to lawn, Arie’s traces will be in the park for a long time. Many of the seeds he planted were self-seeding biennials, and now not only the other park flowerbeds but also every crack in the rinkhouse walkways sprouts Arie’s cosmos and black-eyed susans and morning glories. Arie gave the park a lot of gifts, and they’re gifts to last.

To replace the gardens that are about to be grassed over, the City Parks horticulture section is collaborating with Foodshare to create a youth garden at the southwest edge of the park near Dufferin Street. This is meant to be a teaching garden full of unusual vegetables and flowers reflecting other world cuisines. Such a garden will fulfil two of the recent mandates of Parks, Forestry and Recreation – to promote community gardens, and to promote youth activities. Beyond that, the unusual plantings should add a lively bit of interest to a corner of the park that is mainly just a thoroughfare for people going to and from the mall.

Foodshare workers had hoped to lay down some compost and straw in this 10 meter by 15 meter area before the winter. However, some park neighbours have protested the loss of green space (grass), as they see it. So no more work will be done until there is a public garden information meeting in March.

posted September 22, 2006

New trees planted in the park

Lomco tree planting company Sept.22

Dufferin Grove Park has a lot of beautiful old trees. Some are so old they're starting to fall down or rot. Discussions began three years ago, about planting some young trees to take up the slack once the old ones go. This past spring, City Forestry staff Uyen Dias walked around with on-site park staff, marking out new planting sites. But then the Forestry staff got so busy they couldn't make the spring planting. Today the trees arrived and were planted by a contractor (Lomco). 31 trees in 3 hours! They planted silver maples, sugar maples, white oaks, red oaks, pin oaks, and Kentucky coffee trees.

Now we have to treat those trees very well. They need protection against dogs, weed-eaters, and people who like to break branches. Next summer if it's dry they'll need lots of water. Everyone who loves trees, look out for these newcomers to the park...

sugar maple

Kentucky coffee tree

posted September 6, 2006


For a few years now, the City Forestry section has been promising new trees for Dufferin Grove Park (so that it will remain a grove for the next generation). Last fall it didn’t happen, and this spring it almost happened but they were too busy with other plantings. Forestry planner Uyen Dias has now sent word that this fall the park will for sure get its twenty-five new trees. The species are: Freeman Maples, Red Maples, Sugar Maples, White Oaks, Bur Oaks, and Red Oaks. These will be trees with pretty big root balls.

The park has trees in all its community-planted native-species areas. Some of them were tiny when they went in but have now – ten or less years later – become very tall. There is a twenty-foot trembling aspen in the “Little Tree Nursery” south of the field house. It may have arrived when a bird flew over – nobody planted it. The three black walnut trees in the “Remembering Garrison Creek” garden at the southwest corner are full of walnuts this year for the first time. The swamp willow on the hill near the marsh fountain is another mystery tree – it just appeared there as a two-foot bush about five years ago. Now it’s tall and, well, willowy.

The two black maples donated by Mary Wigle in memory of Ziggy Kapsa, planted near the cob courtyard, are looking strong and healthy, as are the four silver maples planted south of the wading pool just last year.

There are also two other new maples, each with a donor inscription. Last year one of those maples almost died in the drought, and the recreation staff had to water it back to life. This year the weather was so wet that all the trees look happy. A request: if anyone knows the story of those two donated Freeman mapleswho gave those to the park, and what’s their story? – please let the park staff know. People ask about those trees but the park staff don’t know what to tell them.

Ziggy Kapsa memorial trees

posted March 18, 2006

Seedy Saturday 2006

WHEN: March 18, 2006, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

WHERE: Scadding Court Community Centre
707 Dundas St. W. (southeast corner of Dundas West and Bathurst)
Wheelchair Accessible

COST: Free, with a suggested donation of $2

MORE INFO:Toronto Community Garden Network
(416) 392-1668
tcgn@foodshare .net

Seedy Saturday is a fundraiser for Seeds of Diversity , helping to spread awareness about the importance of preserving Canada's genetic plant heritage. Seeds of Diversity, a non-profit group of gardeners from coast to coast who save seeds from rare and unusual garden plants to ensure a living gene bank. The idea for Seedy Saturday began in Vancouver in 1989 with Sharon Rempel, volunteer Director with Heritage Seed Program, now Seeds of Diversity Canada. Seeds of Diversity is dedicated to the conservation, documentation and use of public-domain non-hybrid plants of Canadian significance. 1700 members-strong, these gardeners, farmers, teachers, scientists, agricultural historians, researchers and seed vendors volunteer their time and efforts to grow, propagate and distribute over 1500 varieties of vegetables, fruit, grains, flowers and herbs.

posted April 5, 2006

Gardening Friday Afternoons in April 2006

During April, volunteer gardeners will work with park staff person Jenny Cook on Friday afternoons from 1 p.m. There’s plenty of scope for a green thumb, since the park has eleven community garden beds, five of them native-species gardens and two of them food gardens for kids, connected to the community bake oven program. Community gardener Chris Buxton decentralized the compost last year, putting small compost bins into many different locations. In March, Gene Threndyle pruned most of the trees in the little tree nurseries that he planted ten years ago. Soon the wild plums will be in bloom. Maybe this year there will be even more walnuts and hazelnuts than last year, at the southwest corner "Memory of Garrison Creek" garden.

Plants are ready for action

Reema Tarzi and park staff volunteers Mary Sylwester and Corey Chivers worked with Jenny the week after the rink closed, to plant seeds in flats inside the rink house. Long-time park friend Kyla Dixon-Muir brought over four pots of asparagus plants, with instructions ("don’t start harvesting for four years!"). The sugar snap pea seeds have gone into the ground. The tulips donated last year have come up in the new garden near the cob courtyard, and the red maples planted by volunteer gardeners last October, south of the wading pool, are showing buds.

Dufferin Park to get 25 new trees!

And other good news about trees in the park: Uyen Dias, from the City’s Tree Advocacy Planting Program, says:

"We will be planting 25 trees at Dufferin Grove Park...we are waiting to finalize details on who our contractor will be. Ideally the trees will be planted by the end of April, or early May. These are the species: Freeman Maple, Red Maple, Sugar Maple, White Oak, Bur Oak and Red Oak."

After ten years with only one new tree planted by the City, this is wonderful news.

If you want to get involved...

If you like to grow things (or want to learn how) and want to help out in the park, Jenny Cook would love to hear from you. Call her at the rink house at 416 392-0913 or e-mail her at

posted July 4, 2006


Harvest at the children's garden, Aug.13

From garden support staff Jenny Cook: “Once again, and hopefully for the last time, we are going to switch our official gardening meeting hours at Dufferin Grove Park.

"In an attempt to avoid sun-stroke, from now on we will meet on Sunday evenings at around 5 pm. Thus, not only will we avoid the worst of the heat, we will also be able to make and eat dinner (enjoying some of the fruits of our labour), before tackling the weeds into the wee hours of the night, or at least until it gets too dark to see.

If you have never yet made it out, don't be shy!”

From park neighbour Simon Lepik-Wookey: “I think it would be good to put a French drain at the southeast corner of the park, where all the water runs down from the sand pit. In the meantime, Rebecca and I have been doing a little gardening in the back there. We have established a good violet patch along with some day lilies and other flowers to hide that steel car barrier. We plan to transplant some irises in the fall along with some other hearty annuals that we have in our garden.”

Simon says they’d like to work with other park friends to “establish a nice little shade garden with a bench in that back corner. It could be a good project for children to learn about gardening... or just a nice place for parents to sit and rest in the shade while watching their kids having fun and getting very dirty.... “

If anyone has wet-loving, shade-loving plants to donate, Simon will plant them down there. Contact Simon at

The City Forestry Department has not been able to plant the promised 25 trees (yet), but the 8 trees and many bushes planted by park friends within the past year are all thriving. Park friends have been planting trees in the park since 1995, and some of those early plantings are getting very big. The black walnut trees in the “Remembering Garrison Creek” gardens in the southwest corner are at least fifteen feet tall now, and they’ve got a bumper crop of walnuts ripening on them.

Community News

posted April 18, 2006

Community garden vandalism at the Riverdale Meadow Community Garden

behind the City Adult Learning Centre on Danforth by Broadview

From Kyla Dixon-Muir, May 1, 2006:

The garden was very seriously vandalized on Easter Sunday night. I had been there until dinner time, and when I went back on Monday afternoon I was truly horrified and distraught over what I discovered. Not a thing was left untouched: the damage was rampant, wilful, and malicious. (This occurred just days before I was to be leading a Workshop at Grassroots on Danforth about ColdFrames, and we were to be hosting a tour to allow attendees to see them (well, what's left of them) in action...

posted April 18, 2006

Letter from Riverdale Meadow Community Garden

A letter from park friend Kyla Dixon-Muir, Feb.14 2006:

Now that all of the plots are opened at Riverdale Meadow Community Garden, and many of the basic details (like water & wheelbarrows) are sorted out, I've (finally) been able to turn my attention to some of the neglected perennial plants.

This winter I studied currants and asparagus.

posted April 12, 2006

Wishlist From Riverdale Meadow Community Garden

From Kyla Dixon-Muir:

Our garden has no paid staff and receives no funding at all. Everything we have there is stuff I manage to beg or scrounge.Would you consider posting our garden's Wish List? There's still so much we need, and I'd love to take any useable donations that you don't need over there which might otherwise be trucked to Michigan... My gardening address:

There's still so much more to be done. (Remember when I first brought those raspberries to you, from what I called the 'abandoned garden'?...)

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