“Imagine our City lead by a generation of lifelong gardeners and naturalists”
~ vision of the Children’s Eco Programs
This is your official invitation to our Birthday Party Bash! We’re throwing a fun-filled Garden Birthday Party on Sunday, June 2, 2013 from Noon to 4 pm here at the Children’s Garden in High Park and we want you there to help us celebrate!
It’s hard to believe we’ve been around for 15 years! It feels like just yesterday when we started our first garden program in High park and our first hike on Toronto’s Discovery Walk Trails.
In the summer of 2000 we ran our first week of Eco Camp as a pilot project. We now offer four different camps, two of which run for 8 weeks of programming throughout the summer. Plus with the addition of our Children’s Teaching Kitchen we now offer environmental education programs throughout the year.
The High Park Children’s Garden was also a one year pilot project (we seem to have a pretty good track record with these 😉 ). It was created back in the spring of 1998 in an old, rarely used parking lot. The community had safety concerns about the south end of High Park so instead of increasing the police presence in the park the City decided to try something different.
They wanted to build something that would bring the community back to the area. The City decided to add a Children’s Garden and children’s programs to the old parking lot and Picnic Shelter … I think it’s safe to say … it really worked! We now have over 5000 visitors to the Children’s Garden every year and that’s just for our programs. Many folks enjoy a walk through our Garden and kids love to run through the “maze” of the ABC garden beds.
Here’s the ultimate “before” shot 🙂 It seems so bare!
As we said … the Garden was a pilot project. It’s almost as if they didn’t think we would be around long enough to warrant digging up all the asphalt. Each bed has a small amount of parking lot cut out underneath for drainage … this means all they had to do was pull out the beds and pave in the missing pieces if the programming didn’t work out.
Even though they thought we wouldn’t last … we are very glad they left the asphalt in place! The paved surface and our raised beds make the Children’s Garden fully accessible. We love the fact that anyone can come and visit our Garden to learn about growing (and eating 🙂 ) organic fruits and veggies!
As the years progressed, our programming grew. We used more and more of our garden harvest for cooking programs and feeding folks during our events. This meant lots of dishes done in cold water and creative cooking set-ups.
Sadly that tree is no longer there … but we do have a nifty new Children’s Teaching Kitchen sign you should check out next time you stop by!
Over the years many parents have been astounded by the willingness of their children to do dishes at the Garden (they’re often astounded by the fact they eat vegetables there too!). It must have been the novelty of the Rubbermaid bin set up we used.
For our events we would have to drag our “kitchen” around in 10 – 15 of those Rubbermaid bins back and forth to the Rec Centre we used to cook the food, to the Garden the next day to serve the food and back to our office near King and Strachan to clean everything up and store it … whew!
Not only was all this travelling back and forth a waste of time and gas, we also found that our Youth Cooking Program Participants, who helped us cook all this food, missed out on the important steps of growing and harvesting the fruits and vegetables they cooked with. It was also very time consuming for our Program Instructors and Camp Counsellors when they cooked with veggies during our school and camp programs.
So in 2004 an idea came to mind … an idea to add a kitchen to the Children’s Garden site. The idea was to use the original footprint of the shelter for the building and create a healthy, environmentally sustainable space for everyone to enjoy.
After seven years of research, planning … and good old City of Toronto red-tape, our straw bale Children’s Teaching Kitchen was finally under way! Check out From Caterpillar … for the full Kitchen construction story.
With the addition of this wonderful Kitchen we now have the opportunity to show children and community members the whole growing and cooking process of our food.
We’ve started many new cooking programs and children are learning to eat more veggies than ever before!
We are so happy to be able to provide our community and the City with such great programs and we thank you for all of your support and enthusiasm over the past 15 years!
See you at the Party 😀