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5 Innovative Lessons We Learned from Evergreen Brick Works This Year

During the pandemic, we had to rethink so much of how we do things. Here are a few lessons we learned along the way. 

Children carrying a log

Published on December 08, 2021

Every year, our headquarters Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto acts as both a community gathering space, and a demonstration hub for new and innovative ways to approach city-building.  

With over 500,000 visits to the site annually, we’re constantly finding new ways to share the latest in everything from urban agriculture to children-centered public spaces with you. 

But operating the site during the pandemic has taken that innovation to a new level. We had to decide how we would operate our weekly famers market in a safe and accessible way, how we could eventually bring kids back into our Children’s Garden, and so many things in-between. Here are some of the ways we’ve learned to do things differently in 2021. 

A garden with a path for children

A Dynamic New Space for Kids to Explore 

At the Brick Works, our gardens have always been designed to be self-sustaining, while giving kids a place to learn and play outdoors. 

This year, we took that principal to a new level, with a redesign of an area in our beloved Children’s Garden. In partnership with Foresters Financial, we created a new Guild Garden with a community of native and food-bearing plants.  

A centuries-old hollow white oak log was added to the garden’s maze-like path, creating a perfect way for kids to engage with the garden in a fun and easy way. 

Foresters staff built the garden from the ground up during a three-month series of activations. The team took part in landscaping the new garden beds, soil building and tree planting. You can learn more about the innovative new space by reading our story about its creation. 

A couple in front of Evergreen Brick Works

A Space for Special Moments 

The Brick Works has long been one of Toronto’s most sought-after event spaces, for everything from intimate weddings to private conferences. This year, with pandemic restrictions changing from month to month, we had to get creative about how we hosted our events. We held micro-events, where 10 people could join us on our terrace, or a garden. We also worked with an audio-visual vendor that provided live streaming for events. Our events team used scaled-planning that offered guests options, so they were able to respond as restrictions changed. Interested in hosting an event at the Brick Works in the new year? Visit our events page for more details.  

A person gardening and smiling at the camera

Sharing the Best Urban Agriculture Tips, Virtually 

Our gardens were operating throughout the pandemic, but we had to get creative about how to share our urban agriculture tips with you. 

Home to more than 50 varieties of native plant species, the gardens contribute to the Brick Works thriving community and educational space, part of our commitment to create a place to experience sustainable practices in action. 

Our Lead Hand, Urban Agriculture Isaac Crosby hosted many virtual events, walking attendees through native species and how to successfully grow them in their own gardens (whether it was a container garden on a balcony, or raised-beds in a backyard!) 

This fall, we were able to welcome visitors back for smaller events, and we hope to be able to do so again in the new year. To learn more about the gardens, check out our project page. 

Children carrying a log

Helping Kids Learn, Outdoors 

When the pandemic hit, our outdoor education team had to rapidly pivot. How could we capture the magic of in-person education programs in a virtual world? 

The answer:  Virtually Outdoors, a program where our facilitators guided parents, teachers and kids through virtual activities to connect them to the outside world, including our popular Nature Bingo.  

Slowly, on-site programming also became a possibility. Our education programs take a relaxed and playful approach to learning about the intersection between urban and natural worlds, while meaningfully addressing climate change, connection to place and Indigenous reconciliation.  

Interested in learning more? Visit our education page today. 

An indoor market

Markets for Local Food, Goods and Art! 

Our popular Saturday Farmers Market has operated throughout the pandemic, ensuring our community members had access to local and sustainable farmers, food producers and chefs. 

It wasn’t an easy transition, but our Market team pivoted to operate the market during the pandemic as an essential service, adopting a range of measures to ensure it was a safe and enjoyable experience for vendors and visitors alike. In doing so, we demonstrated how resilient local food systems can continue to play an integral role in the food models of cities. 

This fall, we also launched our Sunday Artisan & Vintage Market, which runs on the second Sunday of each month and connects visitors to local artists, makers and vintage sellers. And, this December, we’ll be operating a special Holiday Market. Visit our What’s On page to learn all about it. 

This Season, Support Evergreen Brick Works 

Places like the Brick Works play a significant role in helping us feel connected to each other and our city every day of the year. 

This magical space is made possible through generous support from donors like you. Help keep the Brick Works magic alive by making a donation to Evergreen today!