Thursday, June 26, 2008

Indigenous plant refugees return to 100 Lesmill

An eager group of volunteers, in co-ordination with 1st Vice-President Patty Rout and OPSEU's Building Services, laid the first two beds of native plants at 100 Lesmill Road (OPSEU's head office) on June 26. The project was initiated by Patty after a proposal from OPSEU's own Janice Hagan and her partner Greg. Over 25 staff members volunteered to work on this bold, green and highly visible initiative at the Energy Conservation Week meeting in May.

That's what happens when you have a 1st Veep who is both an avid gardener and an environmentalist. Part of my job is to help make it happen and I must admit I'm enjoying it thoroughly. Thanks to Rick Janson for the pix.

"Before" - Getting started
Andrea Bowden, Cindy Forsyth, Gary Shaul
After 3 planning sessions to get things rolling, the first group of about 10 volunteers came out to get to down and dirty. Greg dropped off the plants the day before. The moon was aligned. The days were getting hotter and shorter. July was around the next weekend. The planting season was upon us. And once again, OPSEU rose to the challenge.

Preparing the ground
Carol Wilson, Eleanor Woodruffe, David Cox, yours truly
Scott Elliot from Building Services reluctantly handed over the heavy equipment and power tools with a warning for volunteers to keep their hands off the chain saw! There were some sighs of disappointment. Earlier in the week, Scott made a run to Canadian Tire to pick up some garden tools & supplies for the volunteers.

OPSEU Gothic
1st VP/Treasurer Patty & President Warren "Smokey" Thomas show their support. The decision to begin reclaiming 100 Lesmill Road for indigenous plants and wildlife also represents a commitment to encourage others to follow suit. In a few short years, 100 Lesmill could be a showpiece, example and source of plants for other offices, factories and warehouses in this industrial complex on the edge of the Don River (and beyond). There is also talk of starting a seed bank and distributing seeds to our members in the GTA. As the food crisis deepens, climate change impacts arable lands and pollinators are disappearing as fast as their habitat, having executive support and leadership can have an impact well beyond OPSEU.

Gary puts Patty & Smokey to work. "Who said being green can't be fun?" said Patty. Smokey quipped, "Don't tell my wife. I haven't spent much time in my own garden this year."

Cindy plants a milkweed which attracts monarch butterflies. The two beds were planted with a variety of native plants including wild strawberries and chives. Greg provided a variety of plants which are meant to provide habitat for butterflies and other pollinating insects throughout spring, summer and fall. Monoculture, or the planting of one thing only, deprives wildlife of the habitat that it needs to survive. A seasonal balance is central to a native garden's success.

Carol lends a blue hand and a green thumb.

Eleanor Woodruffe

Bark mulch
David, Cindy & Steve
Once the plants were in the ground, a layer of wood chips was applied to the two garden beds. The day before, Cindy, Francesca Sinocropi and myself made a run out to the Scarborough wood chip pile in to bring back 16 bags (for starters). Here's some more information about mulching and its advantages from the City of Toronto.

The first bed is ready. It doesn't look too green yet but will take some time to fill in. Many native plants are low maintenance and require less watering than other garden varieties.

Work on additional beds will continue on July 2 and 3.


Anonymous said...

It's a wonderful idea, and so "simple"! Very Well Done!

Lillian K

Kitchen Cabinets said...

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Garden Tools said...

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