The Guelph Urban Forest Friends (GUFF) is a group of citizen-based activists who took local tree preservation into their own hands. When faced with the city’s decision to cut down more than 20 mature trees we organized an action to preserve one of the remaining mature trees using a group of five bikes.
Toyin Coker and I sit across from each other at a chess table in the park outside the Wychwood Barns. It’s a sunny afternoon and a few birds fly overhead in the cool, late November air. I ask her to describe herself in a word. She floats a few, “natural mentor...gardener...I guess you could say a kind of community builder." I'm not totally convinced those encompass all that she is. We're here to talk permaculture. And if there's one thing I'm sure of, its that she is a woman who has realized her dream.
We are fortunate to go to school in the heart of urban Toronto. Recently our green industries class had an opportunity to explore the biodiversity in our area, and Amanda Gomm from LEAF came to our school to share her knowledge.
Milne Hollow is located along the Don Valley, sitting between the edges of Scarborough and North York. Surrounded by a major highway in what is a former industrial site, it is one of the most magnificent examples of how diverse our canopy can be. When I first arrived I was struck by the way it stood beaming with colour, so full of life. This is no accident – the city of Toronto has been working to renaturalize this site for over a decade and in 2011 LEAF signed on to help them achieve their goals.
I want to share a story with LEAF blog readers. It’s the story of how two relaxed keeners planted a native butterfly garden, repurposed downtown grown trees (cleared for development) into seating and planted the next generation of canopy at our local library. It’s the story of seizing the potential of a lawn and creating a shady outdoor reading room.