Archive for the ‘events’ Category

Gardening and Nutrition Conference, M'Chigeeng First Nation

I was very proud to present at this conference, where participants from a variety of backgrounds met to learn in workshops and discussion about gardening, nutrition, wild foods, seed saving and more. It was a great pleasure to work with Mark Peltier and the Noojmowin-Teg Health Centre on Manitoulin Island, an amazing organization that serves 8 First Nations and neighbours too. The day was off to a good start with workshops on worm composting, sprouting, wild edibles and growing plants from kitchen scraps. About 70 people came, from all over the region’s First Nations and many non-indigenous folks as well. Here’s me presenting on the topic of Cultivating Connections:



and here’s a very cool bilingual (Ojibway/English) poster: SAMSUNG


I met some great people doing amazing work locally. In M’Chigeeng, there’s a community garden that serves mainly seniors, and in seven local schools, mostly First Nations, there’s also a fantastic initiative called Kids Can Grow that helps kids plant seeds and sell or donate the seedlings, or bring them home to plant, supported by Farmers Markets Ontario. Here’s a story about them.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Heather Thoma, farmer and gardener at Loonsong Farm, who has a reputation for bringing people together on the Island and elsewhere. I met her for the first time last year at a conference in Toronto, and she suggested me as a presenter for this conference because of the provincial advocacy work we are doing in the Imagine a Garden in Every School campaign. In the course of our conversation last year, I discovered that Heather, who only distributes her organic oats at one or two Toronto locations, in fact supplies my local store The Nut House – and I’d been eating her oatmeal every morning for two years! When we said goodbye in Little Current last weekend, I joked that I had to get back to Toronto because I missed having her oats for breakfast. (The conference itself, and the amazing Manitoulin Hotel had a lot of good food, but none of it was Heather’s oatmeal.)

I didn’t pick up much Ojibway, but I do know how to say thank you very much, Chi Miigwetch, to Noojmowin-Teg Health Centre for this amazing opportunity.


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Reflections on GTGK’s Contributors’ Appreciation Evening—Or, Why Digging For Potatoes is Like Winning the Lottery

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Kristina Vidug, and I am one of the newest board members at GTGK. I am, I suppose, what you would call a ‘young professional’. Currently, I’m an analyst in the medical technology sector. I studied sociology at both the undergraduate and graduate level and have always felt a strong drive towards nurturing the local food movement—whether it’s through my own container gardening, or through encouraging food literacy. Joining the board at GTGK felt like a natural fit.

On November 20th, GTGK held a soirée to show our appreciation to all of the contributors that make GTGK what it is—whether it is the volunteers who dedicate innumerable hours to running the programs, or the generous funders who give us the monetary support we need to keep said programs running smoothly, or the students and interns who use their time at GTGK as an opportunity to put theory into practice.

The evening was held at CSI Regent Park. I was truly astounded at how quickly the space was turned from a functional meeting and kitchen space into a cozy and intimate candle-lit haven, adorned with burlap table runners and pea-shoot containers as centre pieces.

The evening gave us a truly unique opportunity to bring together the aforementioned folks, who are so invaluable to GTGK in their own unique ways, and who might not otherwise have the opportunity to meet and mingle with one another. Robin Buyers, professor and board member extraordinaire, helped get the conversation flowing with her ingenuous ice-breaker activity that had us all connecting with unfamiliar faces in the room and ranking our top motivators for teaching children and youth to grow their own food. (The reasons were diverse and plentiful—but that’s a topic for another blog post.)


After enjoying a delectable meal together, we went on to hear from a number of students who’ve been involved with the Urban Roots Youth program. For me, it was the first time that I heard firsthand the impact that GTGK has had on the students’ lives. Their stories were candid, from the heart, and most importantly, spoke to the positive influence that the program has had on their lives. Their stories evoked laughter in only the way that unabashed youth speaking without reservations could—one student spoke of the laborious process of digging for potatoes, exclaiming, “Finding one is like literally winning the lottery!” Yet another recounted his experience with tending plant life, explaining “I learned that growing plants requires lots more than water and sunlight.” He didn’t state it explicitly, but I’m pretty sure the missing ingredient he was referring to was love.

The evening was a smashing success, and while the outdoor growing season may have come to a close, it’s events like this that keep everyone at GTGK raring to start sowing for the next one.


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july19workshopto see the full flyer click here: learning community

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On Friday July 19, from 10 – 3, we’ll host our very own training day. The theme is Learning Community: an Ecosystem Approach to School Food Gardens

WHO: Teachers, Caretakers, Education Assistants, others (inquire)

WHAT: School Food Garden Ecosystems  — One-Day Workshop

  • Explore hands-on activities, and take home elementary lesson plans linked to curriculum
  • Learn about plants and compost; gardening tips specific to school gardens, Q&A
  • Planning food for humans, food for butterflies: designing naturalized spaces and food gardens
  • Gardens tour: Rose Ave. PS, Sprucecourt PS & Winchester PS.

PLACE:  Winchester Public School, 15 Prospect St., near Parliament and Wellesley Sts, downtown Toronto.

REGISTRATION: Contact Sunday Harrison for more information and to register, or complete the form below. Email: sunday@kidsgrowing.ca, or call 416-876-1480.

PRESENTED BY: Sunday Harrison, Masters of Environmental Studies Candidate, Program Director and Founder, Green Thumbs Growing Kids. GTGK is a charitable organization that has been partnering with multiple schools supporting their gardens since 2001. Visit www.kidsgrowing.ca for more information. Also supporting the workshop will be Erin Temple, Masters of Health Science Candidate, Nutrition Communication.

The cost for the workshop is a measly $30 before July 1, and $45 after. It includes lunch and resources. The cost is partly subsidized through a grant by the Community Development Fund of the Ontario Natural Foods Co-operative. Please fill out the form below to register or to get more information. 

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It’s an exciting time for school gardens – please join us physically and metaphysically in our celebrations of a new season of growth and beauty! First up, today is May 24 — The First Annual School Garden Day, brought to life by our collaboration with EcoSource and the Ontario Edible Education Network. There’s a survey to fill out to help us all better understand school food gardens and gardeners, (as well as other children & youth food programs).

Next week on Wednesday May 29 is the Fairmount Park Farmers’ Market, adjacent to a school yard where a gardening project is underway. We’ll be selling some pea shoots and talking about how easy to do and nutritious they are, as well as just providing a fun activity for kids. Erin Temple, our newly minted practicum student from Ryerson University’s Masters of Health Science, Nutrition Communications will help make this event memorable.

Coming up Saturday June 1 is Rawlinson Community School’s Urban Farm Fun Fair, and we’re excited to have a table there. We’ve been working with Rawlinson’s amazing kindergarten teachers on our kinder-GARDEN pilot project, and this year the whole school has planned their Fun Fair to celebrate urban agriculture and highlight their school gardens!

On Wednesday June 19, we’ll get together with our eight Kinder-GARDEN pilot project teachers to go over the project and look at the spring season to date. This will form the beginning of a new resource guide, suited to Toronto climate and Ontario curriculum, for school food gardeners working with Kindergarteners. This project is supported by a grant from the Community Environment Fund of Earth Day Canada.

Then, Friday June 21, we’ll be offering a workshop at the Jane-Finch area Frontier College Connecting Communities Conference, where program leaders attend a free day of workshops and networking, gaining a better understanding of summer programs that meet the needs of children and youth. We’re excited to participate in the desire to support literacy – including environmental and food literacy – and detailing how the school garden can be a strong summertime asset to the community.

Meantime, the Urban Roots Youth project is deepening, and the youth involved are gaining confidence and knowledge about food growing, food systems and starting to tell their own stories. Two more summer jobs (in addition to two jobs through TDSB’s Focus on Youth) will be available and will be posted soon on our website. Funding for this program’s co-ordination has been generously provided by Telus Community Board and by the City of Toronto Recreation Grants.

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Click to see these three locations on the Google Map

http://g.co/maps/cdhanGarden Open Houses

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Happy 10th anniversary Winchester School Garden!

We are proud and elated to announce that it is the 10th year anniversary of Winchester P.S. Community Garden! Come celebrate with us on Saturday, September 24th from 1pm to 4 pm.

Details  (and more to follow!) listed on the poster.

GTGK 10th year Garden Party!

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