By Wanda Wierzbicki

On October 24, several community groups and individuals gathered at Wanita Park to join Toronto Forestry personnel in planting 235 native shrubs and trees.

Steven Parkes, a staff member from the Toronto Forestry Department, demonstrated the correct way to plant the trees and shrubs to ensure the best possible outcome. The city provided the volunteers with shovels, buckets and work gloves. A huge pile of mulch was delivered and under Steven’s guidance the volunteers started digging. Each new plant was removed from its starter pot, the roots were encouraged to branch out and the plant was placed in a newly dug hole.  Finally, two large buckets of mulch were placed around the newly planted shrub or tree to encourage water retention.

The largest group of volunteer planters was from North Toronto Christian School. Twenty-five Grade 9 students accompanied by two teachers, Mrs. Crouse and Mr. Vant Erve, worked for several hours digging holes and planting the trees and shrubs. North Toronto Christian School, which is located in Don Mills near Fairview Mall, encourages students to take part in projects that help the community. In past years, they have collected clothing donations, organized food bank donation drives and distributed sandwiches to the poor and homeless. This time they decided to take on a project that would support the environment.

Fifteen employees from Beam Suntory Canada, a premium spirits company, came all the way from Etobicoke to plant trees and shrubs in Wanita Park. Beam Suntory has long promoted giving back to the community and protecting water resources, native species and habitats.

Carolyn Moss, who lives in the Guildwood area, brought her 6-year-old son Luke and four of her employees to plant trees.  Carolyn is a partner with Moss Sund Architects, an architectural firm from Leslieville. They all took the morning off from work to give back to the community.

There was also a group of volunteers from the Bob Rumball Canadian Centre of Excellence for the Deaf, located near Bayview and Lawrence.

The native species planted by these volunteers include black willow, bur oak, meadowsweet, red dogwood, grey dogwood, pussy willow, black raspberry and ninebark.

Forestry Toronto staff also spent some time removing an invasive species of common reed grass that was growing in the area. Phragmites is very aggressive and grows quickly near water sources, choking out native plants.

Anyone interested in finding out more about environmental opportunities in and around our area is encouraged to contact