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From the ground up: investing in sustainable gardening at Evergreen Brick Works

Urban gardening helps to restore ecological integrity and encourage biodiversity.

Container gardens at Evergreen Brick Works Image: Ibrahim Abusitta
Image: Ibrahim Abusitta

Published on November 22, 2022

Even with winter knocking on our door, there is a whole lot of renewal going on at the Brick Works. Once an industrial brick factory, Evergreen Brick Works is now a growing site to pilot ideas for a more equitable and sustainable future. 

Gardens form the heart of Evergreen Brick Works. They are not only a crucial facet of Evergreen’s educational programming and volunteer circles but are a key part of building a resilient future. Urban agricultural projects help diversify and support climate-ready food systems. Gardens with many different varieties of plants have a better chance of resisting disease, dealing with fluctuating temperatures, and coping with external stressors. 

Recently, Evergreen has focussed on transforming under used areas at the Brick Works into inclusive and welcoming green spaces. Investing in urban gardens and building regenerative landscapes will help to restore the ecological integrity of the area, encourage biodiversity and contribute to the sustainability of the land itself. 

Food gardens are central to creating a regenerative landscape at the Brick Works, and over the past two years Evergreen and its partners have been working to showcase innovative food-growing techniques that can be translated elsewhere. 

Here are a few of the newest investments in urban gardening on site. 

Garden with plants and rocks and soil next to big tree

The Guild Garden

Located inside the Children’s Garden, this innovative garden is designed with children in mind. It provides a space to explore, experience and play with nature, while encountering native plants.

Made possible by support from Forester’s Financial, the garden is built around a central cherry tree surrounded by 25 species of plants (including other fruit trees, berries, vegetables and herbs) to create a rich and diverse garden for children to explore. The plants chosen for this garden support beneficial insects, help deter pests and protect the soil. 

Meanwhile, mulch, soil and aggregates were supplied by Less Mess to help keep plants healthy and the space resilient.

As a key component of Evergreen’s educational and camp programming, the new garden will continue to encourage children to learn about nature through play, and inspire a new generation of environmental stewards.  

five containers holding various plants

Demonstration Plant Beds

Evergreen’s container garden, located along the entrance and pathway to the Children’s Garden and on the west side of the site, is an urban food forest filled with native plants for people and pollinators. 

In large livestock watering tanks and sustainably made cedar beds, volunteers from Forester’s Financial helped plant over 35 new varieties of native plants and trees. Focussing on mainly perennial and native species including apples, pears, red mulberries, and plums the garden’s high biodiversity will have a far greater chance of resisting climate-related stressors. 

Containers were designed by Délı̨nę First Nations artist and printmaker Laura Grier.  These new raised plant beds showcase four of North America’s most unique native edible plants — paw paw, American persimmon, groundnut and strawberry.

Two people work on garden

Garden Mounds

Evergreen is embarking on the revitalization of four demonstration garden mounds at the Brick Works on the front-facing edge of the TD Future Cities Centre and in Koerner Gardens.

In partnership with Beanfield, these garden mounds will create a space for ongoing learning about Indigenous land-use practices and urban agriculture.

This revitalization project supports re-designing the space to make it accessible year round and is deeply rooted in participatory design practices to integrate Indigenous voices and land stewardship. 

Generated out of a learning and design workshop with Indigenous landscape architect Terence Radford and youth from Native Cultural Centre of Toronto who shared their artistic input for the site. This first stage of development will be complimented by continued work in 2023. 

Learn more

Regenerative landscapes at the Brick Works serve as demonstration sites for long-term ecological sustainability, climate-resilient design, and placekeeping principles. Working together with our partners Evergreen is committed to finding collaborative environmental solutions that support our communities now and for years to come.