Mike Jones's picture
Posted by Mike Jones /
Edible Tree Tour
Food is one of the cheapest and easiest ways of bringing marginalized community members together. Food, specifically nutritious food, is often unavailable to some in this City. The Food Access Native Tree Project was designed to promote the mass planting of 60 native fruit and nut trees (Serviceberry, Elderberry, and Hazelnut) on land surrounding subsidized housing and community housing projects in South Riverdale.



The Food Access Native Tree Project will be supported in this initiative through collaboration with the Leslieville/Riverdale Tree Project (a community based initiative) and The COUNTERfit Cooking Program (a part of South Riverdale Community Health Centre’s Harm Reduction Program).        


Through this partnership, project participants will receive training about trees and connections between trees, human health and environmental health. Participants will also learn how to cook and preserve local foods harvested from indigenous fruit and nut trees and how these contribute to health while addressing areas of healthy eating, mental health promotion and physical activity. 


Service berry

Leslieville/Riverdale Tree Project provided the 60 native fruit and nut trees at no cost to the property owners, and assisted our participants in the planting process.  The planted trees will be cared for regularly by project and community members during the first critical years.  The trees planted by the project are indigenous to this region of Ontario and therefore are expected to thrive over many years.


Long past the duration of project the fruits and nuts from our trees will be available for harvest by the wider community of South Riverdale, and will be conveniently accessible to those living in or nearby to subsidized and affordable housing buildings. The project itself couldn’t exist without funding from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, Livegreen Toronto, and The Ontario Trillium Foundation and additional support from the South Riverdale Community Health Centre.




Short term project impacts will include:

  • Increased healthy eating and skill development through improved knowledge of balanced meals, cooking, canning techniques and nutritional considerations
  • Increased access to and knowledge of indigenous fruit and nut trees and their uses for healthy eating, cooking and preserving
  • Increased community engagement through participation in hands-on food, health and mental wellness activities


Mike Jones works with the Leslieville-Riverdale Tree Project and Neighbourhoods Acting on Air Quality at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre.




Hello Mike, This is an incredible project and I would like to learn more about the challenges you might have faced from the community and how those were overcome. I am a PhD student at the Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto and my research project is on community engagement and the urban forest. I recently spoke to Susan Poizner (Urban Orchards) and Holly Shaw-Lopez (TRCA, Black Creek SNAP Coordinator) and learnt about the fruit orchard at San Romanoway at Jane and Finch. This appears to be more than just fruit trees and I would really appreciate if you could share your experience with me. I look forward to hearing from you. Regards, Ambika
Thanks for your interest! This was a guest blog written by a member of the Riverdale Tree Project. They have a website and I'd suggest contacting them directly to learn more. It has been several years since Mike wrote this blog and I'm not sure he's working on this project any longer. http://leslievilletreeproject.com/

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