If you have recently wandered through the Curtis Creek area of East City in Peterborough, you may be wondering why so many new gardens are popping up. This May and June, GreenUP staff and local residents have worked together to plant over 250 square metres of gardens and trees at nine different sites within the neighbourhood.
Each garden project was a community effort hosted by the homeowner, where friends and neighbours met to get their hands dirty, share food, and discuss their community. These events marked the first phase of resident-driven gardening and greening projects through the GreenUP Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods program (SUN). SUN is an action-focused, neighbourhood based response to climate change combining action planning and planting.
In addition to action planning for the future, SUN is supporting two Peterborough neighbourhoods by planting 500 square metres of gardens and organizing 500 square metres of smaller greening projects in each neighbourhood. We support residents in installing one of five garden types: trees, community food gardens, pollinator or rain gardens, and other naturalization projects. Residents can also initiate a smaller greening project such as installing a rain barrel, removing invasive species, or organizing a garbage clean-up.
The second phase of the SUN projects will happen this fall, with a focus on a second Peterborough neighbourhood: Kawartha Heights. If you or someone you know from the Kawartha Heights area is eager to transform their yard and engage with the community, please connect with us!
Continuing into 2019, SUN will be working in both neighbourhoods to help build more sustainable communities.
As SUN staff, our first priority when making community connections is to listen. Last year, we talked with community members in both neighbourhoods to identify things they loved about their neighbourhood and the things they felt motivated to address.
The emerging priorities identified by residents guided our planting projects this spring; a lack of shade, seasonal flooding, and mid-summer droughts were the factors that were identified and addressed.
In response to requests for more shade, 24 trees and tall shrubs have been planted in the neighbourhoods so far. Residents have sometimes opted to mark special occasions with the planting of their tree, such as the arrival of a new family member or a high school graduation. These events have highlighted relationships between generations and residents’ long-term commitment to the neighbourhood.
Homeowners have expressed gratitude that their garden projects have incorporated their individualized needs and limitations. For instance, a new rain garden at McFarlane Street and Simmons Avenue was designed to reduce flooding by taking in water from four sources: the street, a roof, a basement sub-pump, and overland flow. The plants for this garden were chosen according to the young family’s maintenance and yard-use requirements, in addition to efficient growing conditions.
SUN projects have also woven in priorities identified from SUN advisory partners, such as the City of Peterborough, including concepts from projects such as Rethink the Rain, which examines the way we address rain and runoff. SUN garden projects align neighbourhood and resident values along with SUN partners’ priorities to ensure long-term sustainability.
VIDEO: Rethink the Rain
At this point in the SUN process, pollinator gardens have been the most popular garden-type. Many residents are interested in the role that pollinators play in our ecosystems and the threats to their survival.
Marking the beginning of the Kawartha Heights garden installations, Dr. Ardavan Mahim and Leslie Moxam hosted a collaborative pollinator garden project with James Strath Public School and their company, Apex Cardiology Services Inc.
“The Apex property at 1757 Sherbrooke offers an ideal location for large scale pollinator gardens,” Mahim and Moxam said, when asked what motivated them to get involved with SUN.
“With bee populations dwindling, gardens such as this one are vastly needed in our subdivisions. The beautiful blooms will attract and help to sustain bee and butterfly populations. We are thrilled that students came to build a garden on our business property. This initiative was a wonderful learning opportunity for the students, and we hope it has inspired the community at large.”
Planting trees and gardens are not the only ways you can get involved with SUN. You can also:
- Host a potluck or barbecue that contributes to your neighbourhood’s Action Plan where you can share and collect great ideas to make your home and neighbourhood more sustainable — we can help you!
- Attend one of our many neighbourhood events planned for the summer and fall. You can check our website for more information at www.greenup.on.ca/program/sun.
The SUN program is modelled on the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s Sustainable Neighbourhood Retrofit Action Plan program (SNAP) and is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation until the end of 2019. Thank you to the SUN advisory partners such asthe City of Peterborough, OtonabeeConservation, Nourish, Sustainable Peterborough, and others who are contributingto the success of this program.
To learn more about the SUN program or get involved you can also contact the SUN program coordinators: Jenn McCallum at email@example.com, 705-745-3238 ext. 208 or Hayley Goodchild at firstname.lastname@example.org, 705-745-3238 ext. 213.
Find out more about the Rethink the Rain program at www.peterborough.ca.
Thank you to those who have connected with us so far. We’re looking forward to our second phase of planting projects with you!