Greenest City Summer 2024 Newsletter - West Neighbourhood House

Greenest City logo

 Honouring Indigenous Month

Poster for Indigenous History Month

We have many updates to share since our March newsletter…

June was the month for honouring Indigenous people from this land. “June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada, a time to recognize the rich history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis” Source:

Greenest City is committed to Righting Relations with First Nations, Metis, and Innuit by acknowledging the land we live and work on and creating spaces to support Indigenous people’s culture and ceremonies, claims, struggles and ongoing care for the land we are on. West NH, a Settler-led organization and the Greenest City as Settlers and immigrant-oriented, as treaty people, have the responsibility to continue to act on the recommendations of the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Some of the ways we are doing this is through ongoing learning for the truth of Canada’s Residential School legacy, supporting Indigenous-led work and priorities and care of the land.

Please reflect on the land you find yourself standing in and think of simple ways to show solidarity with the Indigenous peoples of this territory.

Photo Taken Source

Garden Tips for Summer

As summer heats up, our community gardens are thriving, and we have some exciting updates and opportunities to share with you. This is a crucial time for the growing season. You have already planted your seedlings and your plants are now getting big and strong. To keep your veggies healthy this month, we have included a summary of some gardening tips,

  • Watering: Water your garden early in the morning to reduce evaporation and ensure plants have enough moisture to withstand the heat.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around your plants to retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Weeding: Remove aggressive weeds before they take over your plots as they will grow remarkably this month.
  • Pest Control: Keep an eye out for common garden pests like aphids and caterpillars. Use natural pest control methods, such as introducing beneficial insects.
  • Harvesting: Regularly harvest ripe produce to encourage continuous growth and prevent over-ripening and replace any plants you remove with new vegetable seeds or seedlings.
  • Continue to add companion plants beside your vegetables.
  • Begin to watch for the number of pollinators in your garden and add more pollinator flowers.

Recommended source:

Warm Summer to all of you!

Greenest City Highlights

* Parkdale COMMUNITY Good Food Market: July 10th

Poster advertising the farmers market

The Food Market in Parkdale is back, and we are thrilled to launch its new name this year: The Parkdale COMMUNITY  Food Market. We decided to rename it because it is mainly run by community members who support selling fresh and affordable food for Parkdale residents. The new name recognizes the power of community.  See below FoodShare’s reflection on the term “Good Food”.(In previous years the market was the Parkdale Good Food Market).

This season the Market will be run on Wednesdays from July 10 to August 28 from 3 to 7 p.m. in Masaryk Park. This promises to be an engaging weekly event that is not only a crucial part of our commitment to sell low-cost veggies and fruits, but also open spaces and opportunities for folks to gather, make new connections, and get to know local vendors and community-based organizations.

What to Expect in the Market?  

This summer at the Community Food Market you can expect not only fresh, local produce at low cost prices, but also local food vendors such as Sonam’s Momos, Rahma’s Samosas, and other baked goods. There will be a wide variety of local vendors and artisans selling beauty products, candles, art, and much more! You can also explore the services offered by our partners and benefit from their community outreach initiatives at tables hosted by local Parkdale organizations. We have lots of fun surprises planned this summer such as community barbecues, live music, and children’s activities.

We are excited to see you this summer at the Parkdale Community Good Food Market!

If you have any questions or want to run an activity in the market this year, please contact Roberto. Email:

*Kids Growing the Future

Poster for a kids gardening program

Would you like to get your children involved in an eight-week summer program? If yes, then our  “Kids Growing the Future” is an amazing opportunity for children ages 5 to 12, to discover the wonders of nature. Through hands-on learning, kids will explore the benefits of growing their own food and the importance of sustainable practices. In this program, your kids will learn gardening, bird watching, vermicomposting, Indigenous traditions for growing foods, and eco-arts activities.  Children are innate explorers, and they will love to be part of our nature-based outdoor program in Parkdale. It will be run in the Milky Way and Hope Gardens, every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. until the beginning of September. If we get volunteers interested in supporting us, the gardening activities might be extended until harvest time (October).

Group of people working in a garden

On Thursday, July 4, the first session was full of meaningful teachings as we opened the program by educating kids about the importance of  the Land Acknowledgment in a very interactive way. We also had a special Indigenous facilitator,  Ambie Kehewin, a Cree knowledge keeper who shared with us her wisdom and the interlinkages of  the four directions, East, West, North and South with  the four elements, Water, Soil, Sun, and Air  in the cycle of life. She also shared Indigenous core values to hold harmonic relationships with other human beings and with Mother Earth such as Respect, Courage, Love, Wisdom,  Humility, Honesty and Truth. Kids were excited by learning Indigenous knowledge and dancing together.

Teacher giving a lesson on gardening

We ended the day with the support of two amazing lifelong gardeners, Sonam Yangzoam, from the Milky Way and and Eduardo Barnnet, from West Lodge Garden who patiently guided the kids to start planting while  preparing the beds, pulling out the weeds, turning the soil and adding new one. Immense gratitude to you both for the great Job. We are grateful  for the intergenerational teachings they hold in this session.

Group of people in a garden

Thanks also to the  volunteers, Ersilíe Chen, Terri-Louise Armstrong, Ugo and Roberto for the great support.  A big shout out to the Program coordinator, Felipe Bohorquez, who led the whole activity in a very engaged, organized, and wonderful manner. Congrats. Feliez for your leadership! Many thanks also to the parents and to everyone who joined and helped to start this eco-educative journey for children in Parkdale and City wide.

*Dunn Indigenous Garden Revitalization

The Greenest City program at West Neighbourhood House is reminded of the relationship with First Nations People and with the ancestral lands on which we work, live, learn and share. The Dunn Indigenous Garden is a place for Indigenous folks in the city to grow  food, medicine and hold gatherings and ceremonies. This summer we have been getting meaningful volunteer assistance to revitalize and reactivate this garden. This stewardship journey has involved the collaboration of different groups and people such as the National Healing Forest through Noojimo’iwewin Gitigaan garden, Canada Nos Une -Monarch Butterfly Project, My Brothers Keepers, refugee program and a great team of our community members. We want to express our most sincere gratitude for the fantastic work you ALL have offered to make this Indigenous-centred space accessible this year.

This season the garden is opened once again and Indigenous people from North and Center America have started planting food and medicinal plants while providing us, non-Indigenous people, with knowledge and reflections to understand the valuable spiritual teachings that underlie Indigenous food systems.  For example, we have learned that before beginning any intervention on the land Indigenous people, local Tkaranto, ask permission, while offering Tobacco to the plants and greeting the four directions (North, South, East, West). We also learned that every single plant has a spirit and an innate purpose in the land so human beings must show respect even to those species that are considered weeds. It was highlighted that our food is our medicine so Indigenous people need to get back to the land to restore the balance and recover cultural identity.

Greenest City is committed to stewarding spaces to reconcile with this land and to the Indigenous people who lived here before us. Through our land-based work and climate action we are trying our best to support the wellbeing of Indigenous people as an urgent matter.

All our relations have been supporting us with this endeavor. 

*Summer Students

We are thrilled to announce that once again Canada Summer Jobs has given us the financial support to hire 2 summer students this year.

Roberto Reali is back at the Market. He supported us last summer and we are happy he is back with us again this year.

“Hello, my name is Roberto, and I will be joining the Greenest City team this summer as the Special Events Organizer. I am entering my second year at the University of Toronto, with a major in conservation biology. I worked at Greenest City last summer organizing the Parkdale Good Food Market, a weekly community market hosted at Masaryk Park every Wednesday. I’m very excited to be back at Greenest City this summer, and I can’t wait to see familiar faces and the market back in full effect. I hope to see you all at the market”. 

Felipe  Bohorquez-Alvarez will be supporting our climate actions, kids’ program, and food growing activities  this summer.

“Hello Parkdale! I’m Felipe (Feliez), the new Environmental Program Coordinator joining the Greenest City team. With a rich background in architectural and landscape design, I’m passionate about transforming South Parkdale into a flourishing eco-haven. My journey has been fueled by a deep commitment to community and sustainability, and I’m eager to apply my expertise to enhance our neighbourhood’s natural beauty. By fostering a strong bond between residents and the environment, I aim to create vibrant green spaces that inspire and unite. Together, we’ll cultivate a legacy of environmental stewardship for generations to come”.

Person standing in a garden with a spade.

Ongoing Partnerships

Green Neighbours Network. Caterpillars Count

Green Neigbours Network –GNN–is leading a collaborative project to remove invasives, promote native plants, and count insects in Parkdale-High Park and Beaches-East York. This year Greenest City has partnered with them to increase our climate action in the neigbourhood.  Interns hired by GNN, through Canada Summer Jobs,  are using the “Caterpillars Count” citizen science approach to quantify insect biodiversity in June & July. They are interested in finding out whether removing invasives and promoting native plants increases insect biodiversity.

“Caterpillars Count” was developed by the University of North Carolina. It quantifies insect biodiversity by counting what falls off a tree branch when it is shaken into a cloth. The greater the insect biodiversity the better it is for birds (and ultimately us). Paul Mero of EcoSpark (EcoSpark is a GNN member group), is using “caterpillars count” as a citizen science program and welcomes volunteers. .

The interns hired by GNN have been supporting the Greenest City program from the beginning of June. Thanks, GNN for the wonderful Caterpillar Counts initiative. Thanks Jessie and Natasha (Canada Summer Jobs interns) and Jay (Small Change Fund intern) for helping out with our growing food program in the Milky Way Garden, Hope Garden, the Dunn Indigenous Learning Garden and in the Pollinators areas that we are implementing as part of land-based work inside and outside of our edible gardens.

Three women sweeping

The South Parkdale Community Pollinator Gardens

The South Parkdale Community Pollinator Gardens is a series of pollinator and habitat gardens on Tyndall, Springhurst, Spencer and Dunn in Parkdale, Tkaronto. They  are exploring what it means to unlearn and decolonize green space while building ecologically beneficial and restorative gardening practices. Ally Lyske, a member of this amazing group says: “We reflect on how can we create gardening communities that are more inclusive and accessible. We are learning together, and from each other, as we go”.

Follow them and learn more about their impactful work:



Group of people in a garden. One is giving a lesson.

To increase the pollinator species in our edible gardens, Greenest City has partnered with this team who have been assisting us not only by providing a variety of pollinator plants but also teaching us how to  plant them  while sharing pollinator-related knowledge. On July 5, we had our first collective planting in the Dunn Indigenous Garden and Hope Garden. It was a great experience working along with the guidance of  The South e Community Pollinator Gardens folks and having the active participation of some Indigenous Cree  people, the Monarch Butterfly Project,  summer students from Greenest City and Green Neighbours Network and some community members. Thanks everybody for Taking Action in this Pollinator Climate Action!

This summer we will continue working together to improve our pollinator gardens.  if you are interested in joining us, we will be around, every Friday from 2 to 4 p.m.

Please email  us for more information:

Community Still Life Drawing is back!  Next event: July 25

Group of people drawing around a table. Notebooks and crayons.

Greenest City is excited for the continued partnership with local grassroots and educators that open spaces for Parkdale residents to find outdoor settings to bring their creativity out.  This year, Community Still Life Drawing is Back and once again. You are invited by Sarah Aranha, lead facilitator of the drawing classes, to be part of this creative journey.

“For the third summer in a row, you are invited to join me, in the Milky Way Garden for this beloved outdoor drawing series. Over 5 sessions from May through September, we will gather as a group to enjoy drawing in the community – we start off with a warmup sketching activity, and then you can spend the rest of the time drawing, chatting, and generally unwinding from your day. We had our first session of the season on May 30th, and it was so lovely to welcome familiar faces and new participants back to the garden.

Here are the next sessions:

  • Thursday July 25th, 6:30-8pm
  • Thursday August 22nd, 6:30-8pm
  • Thursday September 12th, 6:30-8pm (we will close the season with a potluck!)

Please reserve your spot via Eventbrite:

These drawing sessions are presented in collaboration with the Parkdale Free School. They are free and open to everyone, beginners are welcome. I will provide a still life arrangement and a few materials, you just bring your sketchbook. Please dress for the weather as we draw outside (think layers as it gets cooler in the evening). See you there!”  – Sarah

The Bentway Build Dominoes September 22

Group of people with giant dominoes

We have partnered with our friends at @thebentway to support a massive art event in Toronto. They are looking for 250 volunteers for a public art event, Dominoes. On September 22nd, 8,000 giant dominoes will weave and fall along an epic 2.5km journey through downtown Toronto. Sign up to help build the route and be part of this communal artwork and community celebration! More info at

If you can help to bring this Station House Opera’s spectacular art project, Dominoes, to life in Toronto please share it with your programs’ participants.

Please look at the attached social media tiles/sliders, and a flyer. It would be appreciated if you share this widely! You can also add tags for @artsadm and @choicereit on Instagram.

#TheBentway #DominoesTO #StationHouseOpera

Previous Workshops and Events

*3 bins Compost Workshop and Vermicompost

Some gardens in Parkdale have a three-bin compost system but we have noticed that unfortunately the compost production of these bins have been underused. They have become places where people dump garbage and in the worst case, shelter for rats.

We hosted a super combo 3 bins Compost Workshop and Vermicompost on Thursday, June 27 in The Milky Way Garden and had about 20 people attending from different gardens. With the guidance of an experienced team from Compost Toronto, we learned how to properly use the three bins one by one and step by step. It was a great way to start learning the basics of those composters and get to know what kind of garden/kitchen waste should be placed there to avoid rats and other undesired stuff. Additionally, we had a bonus activity led by our committed Volunteer Rodrigo Rojas Bernasconi surprised us with the marvelous universe of worms.

In this workshop, we were told about the power of diversity, both in our compost and our community. Just as plants adjust their pH to attract various nutrients, we can enhance our compost by fostering biodiversity. This involves balancing green (nitrogen) and brown (carbon) compost at a 50:50 ratio, maintaining 60% water content while ensuring air gaps, and managing time and temperature to keep the compost heated. These efforts attract a variety of bacteria and microorganisms, enriching the soil with diverse nutrients. Thanks to the amazing facilitators Joe Durand and Rodrigo Rojas for providing us with such profound insights and teachings about compost and the diversity of microorganisms that create the soil-food-web. You lead us to reflect that similarly, diversity in our society is essential for a vibrant and resilient community. By ensuring representation, providing equal opportunities, and fostering inclusion, we create an environment where everyone can thrive. Just as a diverse compost pile leads to healthier plants, a diverse society brings together different perspectives, skills, and cultures, enriching our collective experience.

We have a ComposTeam Now in our gardens!!! 🙂

*Three Sisters Companion Planting and Ceremony

On June 22nd, we were fortunate enough to have Anishinaabe knowledge keeper Elaine Lee visit the Milky Way and Dunn Indigenous gardens to share with us the three sisters’ companion planting method of the Haudenosaunee people. We learned that this method was practiced by the Iroquois since the 1300s.  The three sisters; squash, corn, and beans, are the sustainers of life, and they are grown together in a mutually beneficial relationship. Corn grows in the Centre mound, providing an upright trellis for the beans which grow around it. Bacteria colonies in the roots of the beans fix nitrogen and release it into the soil for the corn and squash to use. The squash, which runs the outside of the mound, acts as ground cover and protection for the garden bed. Elaine also emphasized for us the importance of planting marigolds in the beds to attract pollinators and deter unwanted pests. After the planting of the three sisters was complete, our team planted tobacco on the outside of the garden.

Despite the rain, our gardeners & volunteers were able to participate in a wonderful afternoon of singing, planting, and engaging with each other. A delicious three-sisters plate put together by our volunteers was served and shared among the attendees around the fire. We are so grateful for the gift of knowledge granted to us and the community, and for the opportunity to foster connections with the food we grow, and with the land. As Elaine tells us, “Our elders remind us that food and our connection to food is our best medicine. Creation has much to offer us; the plant world helps to support our lives with food and medicines. If we learn to care for the gardens and where our food comes from, we help ourselves become healthy and strong in body, mind, and spirit”  

We are convinced that Indigenous knowledge related to food sovereignty is decisive to start understanding Indigenous people’s ways of living and the holistic approach that underlies their relationship with nature.

Thank you so much to all the wonderful folks who showed up. We had a great turnout of about 30 folks but more than numbers we appreciate the quality of the time shared and the openness to learn about Indigenous food systems. Their commitment to apply this knowledge in their gardens could be the beginning of reconciliation with this land.

Immense gratitude to Elaine Lee and Ambie Kehewi  for sharing your knowledge and planting songs. We still keep them in our minds and hearts.

 *Earth Day Celebration

On March 22, we welcomed the spring season while celebrating for the first time the Earth Day at Greenest City. We can truly affirm that was a milestone of the collaboration between West Neighbourhood House, Greenest City Program, and numerous volunteers who gave the time and energy to clean green spaces such as the Masaryk Park, The Milky Way Hub, Hope Garden and the Dunn Indigenous Garden.

Three people building a fence

People standing around a table with supplies

We ended the day  with a Mayan Indigenous prayer ceremony that invited us to .make a commitment with our planet  Together, we had an unforgettable experience filled with learning, fun, and a commitment to sustainability. Let’s continue working together to build a greener and more connected future! Thank you all for making our Earth day celebration in Parkdale a resounding success!


Indigenous Food Sovereignty Network


National Healing Forest, Noojimo’iwewin Gitigaan.Garden

Canada Nos Une. Monarch Butterfly Project.

The South Parkdale Pollinator Gardens

Green Neighbours Network GNN

Compost Toronto

Parkdale High Park for Climate Actions

My Brothers Keepers Refugee Program

Parkdale Free School


Update on Volunteers Opportunities at West NH/GC

The Greenest City program and West Neighbourhood House continue our commitment to opening spaces for social justice, righting relations with indigenous people, and climate actions that support our community members’ wellbeing and sustainable ways of living.

Let’s continue working together to build a greener and more connected future!

Stay updated with our activities and programs on our social media including our Facebook page and Instagram! To volunteer and connect with us, please contact If you would like to receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.

Greenest City is a program of West Neighbourhood House. Read more by visiting their page.

Back to top