An Interview with a Solar Wagon

Patience is a virtue. If it doesn’t work the first time, try and try again. There is a reason why some of these old adages still ring true today. Patience and a willingness to keep trying is why the Children’s Teaching Kitchen is here today. It’s also the reason why it has beautiful shiny new solar (photovoltaic) panels adorning the south-facing side of the roof!


After a few false starts trying to get our panels installed last year our wonderful friends at the Toronto Renewable Energy Office came to the rescue. The Teaching Kitchen is now part of a group of City buildings with new solar arrays (multiple panels) that are part of the Ontario Power Authority’s MicroFit Program. This program allows people with smaller arrays of solar panels to sell the electricity they produce back to Toronto or Ontario Hydro. For more details on this program follow the link. Some of the other buildings include our friends at Warden Hilltop Community Centre, Edithvale Community Centre, Nielson Park Creative Centre, EMS Station 33 and York Civic Centre.

We’re excited to have our panels up and running! We’re also working away on new programs to help school groups and community members learn more about renewable energy.

For more information on how the solar panels work check out the final installment of our Teaching Kitchen Saga – A Sunny Epilogue, an interview with a Solar Wagon.

You can also check out a video of the solar panel installation by clicking here.

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Eco Camp Registration March 3rd, 2018 at 7 a.m.

It’s that time once again! Time to register for our fun filled, action packed, healthy eating but totally tastes good too, garden loving, nature crafting Eco Camp!

You can also sign up for our Children’s Cooking Programs, Edible Cosmetics Workshops and our Tuesday Spring Garden Programs (great for homeschool kids!). Below are the barcodes required for signing up and below that you’ll find our yearly Registration Preparation guide.

While our information here focuses mostly on our programs in High Park, the majority of the Registration Preparation information is transferable to all City of Toronto Recreation Programs. So good luck and get your coffee (or tea!) on for a successful 2018 Spring and Summer Registration session.

Click here to see our extended Call Centre hours so you can check in and find all your important Family Barcodes and PIN numbers!

Registration Preparation 2018

We’re creeping up on that time of year again! That rush of adrenaline, that setting the coffee machine for 6:45 am, that setting of 10 alarms to make sure you’re up in time, time of year again. That’s right 2018 Eco Camp Registration starts at 7 AM on Saturday, March 3rd. Of course it’s also the time to register for any spring or summer recreation programs that take place in Etobicoke/York with the City of Toronto 🙂

Remember registration is open to everyone across Toronto! We break our program registration down by location so our registration staff and computer systems can handle the number of people who want to sign up for all the fun.

So get those fingers ready to hit those redial/refresh buttons and register your campers for Eco Camp! You will also find our Caregiver and tot (4 to 5 years) and child (8 to 12 years) Cooking With Veggies Programs plus our Edible Cosmetics Workshops for 11-15 year olds open for registration on March 3rd.

For those of you wondering how the City of Toronto’s Recreation Program Registration process actually works here’s a little run-down:

  • Each district has it’s own registration start date. For Etobicoke/York it’s Saturday, March 3rd starting at 7 am (for other district dates click here). Anyone from across the city can register for a program in that district on the start date.
  • You have three options for registering for Rec/FUN Guide Programs. Click here for a description and instructions on how to register for City of Toronto Recreation Programs. For our programs we suggest using the phone (416-338-4FUN (4386) or touch-tone 416-338-0000) or going online in order to have the greatest chance at registering your camper.
  • Our available programming space (especially indoor space) is fairly small so our program size is quite limited. We would love to have hundreds of kids join us for Eco Camp each week but there’s only so much Garden to go around. Also note many other Community and Recreation Centres have issues with space and are unable to hold as many programs as they (and the community) would like.
  • If you do miss out on registering your camper for Eco Camp we also offer a free  Thursday morning drop-in program throughout July & Aug from 10 am to Noon. So please stop by for a fun filled morning of gardening, singing, nature crafts and games and experience a wee bit of what our programs are all about!

Now that you know the background info, here’s our yearly guide to registering for Summer Camp or any other popular city program. There are a few things you can do to make Registration Day a little easier for you! Here is a list of things to prepare for ahead of time:

  1. One of the most important tips we can give you is to fully register for all camps/programs first … then at a later time register for any extended care you might need. There will always be enough room in the Eco Camp (and any camp) Extended Care Program for every camper registered so you can sign up for it at any time.
  2. Start by finding your City of Toronto FUN Guide Registration Family and Client Numbers. If you can’t find them or you’ve never registered for a City of Toronto Recreation Program before please call 416-338-4FUN (4386) and a Customer Service Representative can help you (it’s important to do this ahead of time so you don’t waste time on Sat., Mar. 3rd!).
  3. Once you are set to register you can print out or write down the barcodes for each program you are interested in. See all of our barcodes in the links above. Keep all of your Client/Family numbers and Barcodes together in a safe (but not too “safe” 😀 ) place for registration day
  4. Bookmark the Program Registration Page where you can launch the Online Registration Site.
  5. Just before 7 am on Saturday morning (Mar. 3rd) dial into 416-338-0000 (for touch tone registration) or 416-338-4386 (actual human being) and launch the Online Registration Site. This way you can start hitting redial/refresh right at 7am. It will take a few tries … make sure to be awake enough to stop redialing/refreshing when you finally get in! (I’m guessing if you’re signing up for our Sprouts Camp you’re most likely awake at that time anyhow!).
  6. Once you’re in the system move quickly but not so fast you make mistakes. Also note that the Online Registration Site will timeout if you leave it alone for too long (and when I say too long … I’m talking less than 5 minutes).
  7. Please remember to mark on your calendar what weeks your camper is attending Eco Camp … we often have a number of last-minute cancellations and are unable to fill the spot even though our wait lists are quite long! 
  8. Once registered you will receive a Camper Information Package in the mail sometime late in April or early May. This package contains forms that need to be filled out and sent back before camp starts and a Parent Handbook to give you all the info you need to know about sending your Eco Camper to camp. Please fill out the forms and send them back by the date stated on the package!
  9. Please feel free to contact us at any time if you have questions 416-392-1329 or kidsgrow at toronto dot ca (spelled out to reduce spam).

A couple other things for your Registration morning checklist:

  1. Coffee, Tea or hot beverage of choice (for us non-morning folk … put everything out the night before so you can wake up just before 7 with caffeine available! For morning folk … please tell me your secret!  How do you do it!?)
  2. Calendar and/or Datebook – The first week of Camp in 2018 is July 3 to 6.
  3. Scrap paper, pen/pencil and/or printer for confirmation codes, etc.
  4. Don’t forget to write it down on the calendar, once registered!
  5. Having someone else around to cook you breakfast while you wait … certainly can’t hurt 😉

Good Luck Everyone and We Hope To See You At Camp This Summer!

In the Depths of a Magical Urban Forest …

You will find yourself stumbling upon a wondrous glade where an enchanted stronghold known as Kitchenland resides! Kitchenland is a wee corner of the High Park Kingdom. Here children learn how to grow veggies, cook healthy meals and treats, enjoy nature and have a little fun.

Have you ever wondered how the Children’s Eco Programs started here in High Park? How about the building of our amazing straw bale Teaching Kitchen? Here’s your chance to learn more about the Children’s Eco Programs through our fun and whimsical Kitchenland story. Enjoy!

Click here for the first chapter – From Caterpillar …

High Park Harvest Festival!

Sunday, October 1st, 2017 from 11 am to 5 pm

The end of summer means gearing up for our High Park Harvest Festival! Come celebrate the harvest with us alongside our friends at Colborne Lodge. It’s quite the family affair with activities, food, vendors (at the lodge), crafts, music, and did we say food?

So much to see and do you can spend the entire afternoon! So drop by and check out all the activities at the south end of High Park!

We’re always looking for volunteers for Harvest Fest! We can use volunteers for set-up, clean-up, serving food, doing dishes, plus helping with crafts and activities. You can stay for the whole day (and we’ll feed you!) or help out for an hour or two (and we’ll still feed you!). Please contact us if you’re interested in helping out at

Fall Cooking Program Registration Time!

It’s that time of year again … Fall Registration! Time to start preparing for some tasty treats and hearty fall food in our Creative Chefs with Caregiver and Gourmet Veggies Programs. Registration starts on Saturday, September 9th, 2017 at 7 am! 

You can check out more information on our cooking programs here.

For registration information check out the City of Toronto’s FUN Guide Registration webpage.

We also have a free Youth Vegetarian Cooking workshop happening on Saturday, September 30th, 2017. Youth can learn about cooking great vegetarian recipes while helping us prepare for Harvest Fest on Sunday, Oct. 1st, 2017! Please note you must register for this program through the City’s FUN Guide Registration process. For more information check out our cooking programs page.

We look forward to cooking with you this Fall!

Introducing Our New Garden & Nature Weekday Programs

We’re introducing a fun, educational new program for our fall session. Garden and Nature and Around the Garden – with Caregiver are our two new weekday programs happening Tuesdays throughout the fall. 

To register for this program please go to the City of Toronto’s FUN Guide registration page.

For more information about the program check out our Garden & Nature Program Page.

Registration for our fall Garden & Nature Programs plus our fall Children’s Cooking Programs starts Saturday, Septmeber 9th, 2017 at 7 am. Get ready to hit those redial and refresh buttons!


Only 4 more sleeps until Eco Camp Starts!!! Can you tell we’re Excited!?!?! Our Camp Counsellors have so many fun things in store for your campers they’ll be talking about Eco Camp all summer long. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you ready for Camp and to make Tuesday morning drop off go smooth and stress free.

First off there will be a couple more (quick and painless we promise!) forms for you to sign. These are permission forms for swimming, for the Junior & Youth offsite trip on Wednesday and the Sprouts trip to the splash pad on Thursday. If someone else is dropping off your camper we can sort this out over email. Please call Keely at 416-936-4983 if your child is not being dropped off by a parent or guardian or walking in by themselves. See below for more reminders for our Sprouts and Junior & Youth Campers. 

Sprouts (4-5 yrs):

  • Sprouts morning drop off location is right at the Children’s Garden in the South end of the Park. Don’t forget the road between Grenadier Restaurant and the Children’s Garden is a one-way road going south. If you have to drop off older campers at the picnic shelter near the pool plan your route accordingly! Click here for a map of High Park
  • Spouts need a swimsuit on Thursdays for their trip up to High Park’s fancy splash pad and wadding pool
  • Don’t forget sturdy hiking shoes or sneakers, a hat, sunscreen, a refillable water bottle, snacks and lunch
  • Click here for our Sprouts Eco Camp Parent Handbook

Junior (6-9 yrs) and Youth (10-14 yrs) Eco Campers:

  • We have swimming on Tuesday morning (also Thursday morning) so please make sure you pack a swimsuit and towel
  • Junior and Youth campers are dropped off towards the north end of the Park at the Picnic Shelter next to the pool and baseball diamonds (on the east side – the one-way northbound Colborne Lodge Drive side. Picnic shelter/area #15 on the map). Click here for a map of the park
  • Our older campers also do a lot of hiking so don’t forget sturdy hiking shoes or sneakers, hat, sunscreen, a refillable water bottle, snacks and lunch
  • Click here for the Junior & Youth Eco Camp Parent Handbook

Have yourselves a great long weekend and see you on Tuesday morning! ONLY FOUR MORE SLEEPS!

Odds & Sods – Youth Camp Spaces and Spring School Programs

Thank you to all of our Eco families once again for signing your campers up for Eco Camp this summer! For those of you that missed out make sure you’re on our waitlists. People’s plans change so there’s always a chance a space may open up.

Where we do have a few spaces is in our 10 to 14 year old camp. Our Youth Camp is truly an adventure that includes gardening and cooking fun! Click here for barcodes and click here to register now.

The other fun thing School Teachers can register for at this time of year is our Spring School Programs (please feel free to make suggestions to your camper’s teachers 😉 ). We offer curriculum focused programs with hands-on activities in organic gardening, nature exploration and healthy cooking. Did you know baking is a great way to learn about fractions? Possibly the tastiest way too! Click here for more information on our School Programs.

We look forward to seeing everyone this spring and summer!

Children’s Recreation Program Quality Survey

Have you had the opportunity to take the City’s Children’s Recreation Program Quality Survey yet? If not here’s your chance. This survey covers the wide range of children’s programming available through the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division. It closes on February 28th so spread the word!

To start the survey click here.

 Children's Program Survey