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November 19, 2008
City’s High Park Children’s Garden wins top prize in David Suzuki contest
Competing against 580 entries from across Canada, the City of Toronto’s High Park Children’s Garden was recently declared a winner in the David Suzuki Digs My Garden contest. The Children’s Garden was crowned as a pesticide-free garden leader in the community category for Outstanding Ornamentals, which supports gardens that use native species to attract pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.

“I am proud of the High Park Children’s Garden contribution to making Toronto clean, green and beautiful,” said Councillor Bill Saundercook (Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park). “This recognition is another great example of how committed the City of Toronto is to being a sustainable city that lives in harmony with nature and is conscious about the environment in which we live, work and play.”

The Children’s Garden was created in 1998 on what used to be a parking lot near the south end of High Park. In partnership with the community, the City turned the area into a safe and functional space for everyone to enjoy. The garden features colourful raised beds in the shape of the letters A, B, C, as well as a sandbox, birdhouse trellis, picnic shelter, tool shed and two rain barrels.

For 11 seasons, children have planted, tended and harvested a variety of organic fruits, vegetables and flowers from the garden, including tomatillos, eggplant, corn, okra, cucumbers, marigolds and sunflowers. Perennial features include a hillside of native wildflowers and grasses, a culinary and medicinal herb bed and a new permaculture bed with an herb spiral and a fedge (or food-bearing hedge) with various berry and fruit plants.

In order for continued growth and support of the garden, the City of Toronto is building a teaching kitchen on-site to serve as a landmark demonstration site for environmental education, sustainable building techniques and alternative energy sources. The teaching kitchen will operate year-round as host to a variety of youth-directed environmental education programs focusing on organic gardening, healthy eating and cooking with local foods. The new green municipal building will enhance the principles of the Children’s Garden and Exploring Toronto Programs that are operated by the City.

The teaching kitchen will be built using plastered straw bale walls and reclaimed, locally sourced materials. The bales are stacked on top of each other, within a post and beam structure to create very strong and well insulated walls. A green roof, which is a living roof made of plants, will help manage storm water runoff into Grenadier Pond. The complex will also include solar panels, a solar water heater and a wind turbine to reduce demand for energy from the hydro grid. These approaches adhere to the Toronto Green Development Standard that was adopted in 2007.

The City’s Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division is raising funds for this project through the Adopt-A-Bale fundraising campaign. By donating to the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation, a bale of straw will be “adopted” by the donor and the funds raised will be used to provide informative, timely and fun programs for children and the community.

“The Children’s Teaching Kitchen will build on the progress that Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation is making towards our commitment to environmental sustainability,” said Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth), Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee. “The environmental design elements and cost effective operations of the kitchen will offer residents an inspirational opportunity to learn how they too can switch to renewable energy sources.”

For more information about the Children’s Teaching Kitchen and the Adopt-A-Bale program, visit

A thank you video from David Suzuki can be found at

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Parks, Forestry and Recreation Media Hotline, 416-560-8726,



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