Evergreen

We believe we can solve even the most pressing urban environmental issues by bringing diverse people together, inspiring them with possibilities and engaging them in identifying solutions and taking action. The need has never been more urgent. To help create greener, more sustainable cities, we focus on four key areas: Greenspace, Children, Food and CityWorks.

Our Impact Why We Exist

Mission:

Inspiring action to green cities

Vision:

Green Cities, Healthy Planet

Our Story What We Do

History:Since 1991, Evergreen has been inspiring and engaging Canadians to create and sustain dynamic outdoor spaces - in schools, communities and homes. With over 85 percent of Canadians living in cities, we find ourselves now, more than ever, disconnected from nature; causing real problems for the health of the environment, our communities, our economy and our people. Evergreen’s work is driven by our belief in inspiring and empowering people to create positive change to restore thenatural health of their communities. Our four program areas—Greenspace, Children, Food and CityWorks— aim to inspire local action to create sustainable cities by building partnerships and engaging local communities. Whether transforming barren school grounds into dynamic outdoor learning environments or converting unused spaces into a thriving food gardens, our work fosters a culture of nature in cities that leads to tangible improvements to environmental, social and economic health. At Evergreen Brick Works, a community environmental centre, we offer a range of programs that empower the public to get involved in cultivating new ideas and solutions to green their communities.Accolades and Accomplishments:

  • 2014 Nature Inspiration Award: Evergreen's Visiting Schools Program is recognized by the Canadian Museum of Nature for encouraging Canadians to take an interest in natural history, create links with nature and contribute to its preservation.
  • 2013 Toronto Urban Design Award: Evergreen Brick Works receives the Award of Excellence for Large Places or Neighbourhood Designs in Toronto.
  • 2012 Paul Oberman Pug Award, People’s Choice: Evergreen Brick Works is awarded the People’s Choice award for Adaptive Reuse and Heritage Restoration.
  • 2012 Bike Friendly Business Awards: Evergreen Bike Works awarded for promoting cycling in the city through education in safety, maintenance, and riding skills.
  • 2010 National Geographic, Geotourism Challenge, Best Geotourism Sites: Top 10: Evergreen Brick Works was chosen from 610 entries from 81 countries, the finalists reflect destinations that best promote the natural and cultural heritage of their sites while improving the well-being of local people.

Our Programs How We Do It

Summary:

  • Visiting Schools Program: full day class trips for students in grades 1 – 6 to Evergreen Brick Works; providing a unique experience for students to explore, learn from, and connect with nature in an inspiring outdoor learning environment.
  • Seeding Healthy Communities: an urban food garden initiative that helps to build and sustain community gardens, and delivers gardening programs to neighbourhoods where they don't already exist.
  • Tower Renewal: a bold and innovative venture aimed at retrofitting Toronto’s aging post-war apartment tower clusters into vibrant, socially and economically viable urban communities.

Visiting Schools Program

Description:

At Evergreen, we believe strongly in the power of hands-on learning in the outdoors and its capacity to get mind and body moving and increase young people’s love and appreciation for the natural environment. Located in the heart of Toronto’s Don River Valley, Evergreen Brick Works is an oasis to experience nature in the city. The site is situated at an urban hub; within a 4 km radius there are more than 20 neighborhoods and over 100 schools. We are geographically positioned in a way that physically connects diverse Toronto communities to the natural world.

This program integrates core academic elements from science, technology, social studies, art and language woven together through an ecological lens. Through full-day class trips, we connect children to nature, get them active, and cultivate their ecological literacy, building a foundation of knowledge about the natural world just beyond their doorsteps. By increasing access to nature and healthy play-based learning and recreation activities for young people living in Toronto’s high needs communities, we are fostering the environmental stewards of tomorrow.

Program Impact:

Following their participation in the Visiting Schools Program, teachers are asked to complete a survey to provide feedback on the program. Completed surveys demonstrate the following outcomes:

  • Increased comfort with hands-on healthy play and learning experiences outdoors;
  • Expanded student knowledge of the natural world and local ecosystems;
  • New, practical outdoor skills, including safe bike riding, food gardening and hiking;
  • Expanded teacher knowledge and skills for teaching in an outdoor environment, that can be applied on an ongoing basis in their indoor and outdoor teachings.

“For half of my students, this is the first time they have been in a forest, the first time they have played in a creek, the first time they have played in nature. For some of these boys, this is the only place they experience any school success. If they do science out here, they get into it and I can do something with them back at the school.” - Teacher, Regent Park/Duke of York Public School

 “A dozen kids in my class didn’t go outside for the entire March Break. They didn’t even open the door. They weren’t allowed on their balconies because they aren’t safe.” -Teacher, Rose Avenue Public School (St. Jamestown, Toronto)

Toronto's Vital Signs Report:

"Chronic underfunding is forcing the Toronto District School Board to divert funds away from supports for low-income students."

"There are many barriers to children engaging in active transportation and physical activity, some of which are within families’, teachers’ and community leaders’ power to influence."

Seeding Healthy Communities

Description:

Designed to empower and inspire residents in high-needs communities to establish the healthy food habits that will lead to long-term behavioral change, this comprehensive community food garden program assists in building and sustaining projects from the ground up.

We believe that food growing gardens offer rich opportunities for many kinds of experiential learning. While providing access to a secure source of local, fresh produce, the community garden also becomes a unique venue for training and skills development with opportunities for nutritional and environmental education, micro-entrepreneurship and climate change mitigation activities. Community gardens also act as important centres for community capacity building and neighbourhood development.

Evergreen works with local agencies to design customized garden programs that address the unique strengths and needs of the communities they serve. Support includes expertise in planning and design, generating resident buy-in and cross-sector support, fundraising, mobilizing volunteer and professional resources, and logistics. Hands-on public workshops are offered on topics such as, planting, composting, harvesting, project planning and budgeting. In spaces where a kitchen is available, as is the case in most homeless and youth shelters, our registered nutritionist delivers workshops around food literacy and cooking, empowering participants to make food choices that are beneficial for their personal health.

Program Impact:

Seeding Healthy Communities does more than simply naturalize urban spaces; it transforms communities by educating, equipping and empowering community members with the requisite skills to develop and sustain local food projects that will enhance both their individual and collective well-beings. Specifically, the program aims to:

  • promote long term healthy eating;
  • strengthen community ties;
  • build community leadership and skills.

“The Seeding Healthy Communities Program partnered with our agency to develop, design, and build a brand new Intergenerational Garden on our front lawn. The garden is a program space where we grow food and use it as a way to draw the important connections between nutrition, environment, and health for our agencies children and seniors. The response in our community has far exceeded our expectations. Community members are surprised at how much the gardens have transformed and beautified the community centre. Many have reported that the gardens give our agency more of a community feeling.

Community members of all ages have taken ownership of the garden. Not only do they spend time socializing in it, but they act as stewards, providing us with endless advice and insight. The Children’s Program has been particularly affected by this garden which offers our summer camp kids a chance to get outdoors, be active, and familiarize themselves with the importance of where their food comes from and how it is grown. In partnering with Evergreen we gained access to so many resources, from their expertise in urban agriculture design, to their networks of support for our build day, and their many versatile and informative workshops that were provided for community members. The garden is an amazing asset to our agency and, more importantly, to our community.” - Clare Giovannetti , Family Nutrition and Support Worker , Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre

Toronto Vital Signs Report:

"The potential for urban agriculture in Toronto is significant. The city could provide 10% of its fresh vegetable needs from within its boundaries if urban agriculture were scaled up...Scaling up urban agriculture will not just meet increasing demand for locally grown food. It will create jobs and economic opportunity, engage diverse communities, and enhance the urban environment."

"About 20% of all Toronto neighbourhoods rate poorly for having community space where residents can meet within a 10-minute walk. The same percentage do not have healthy food options nearby, and the same percentage again do not have much green space."

Tower Renewal

Description:

There are nearly 2,000 apartment towers in the Greater Toronto Area that provide shelter to nearly 1 million people. These towers comprise roughly 20% of Toronto’s total housing supply. However, most were built between 1950 and 1970 and require significant upgrade and investment.

The Tower Renewal initiative aims to transform these inefficient and isolated buildings into dynamic, integrated and low carbon community hubs. These towers were originally designed to emphasize community health, offering an innovative alternative to crowded city slums, with views of nature and access to open greenspace. However today, these communities demonstrate the highest prevalence of diabetes in Toronto, lowest walkability scores, and are situated in food deserts restricting residents’ access to nutritious food . While health was an ambition in the design, tower residents now face numerous significant health challenges relating from their build environment.

Evergreen CityWorks is partnering with planningAlliance’s Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal and DKGI to identify showcase projects that would illustrate the full potential of Tower Renewal across the region.

Program Impact:

While these tower cluster neighbourhoods face numerous challenges, they also have the potential to become exemplars of urban health and resilience. Residents of apartment towers rely more on transit, walking and cycling than other residents of the region. As such, 62% of these apartment towers are within areas with higher than average public transit use. Moreover, as a recent Toronto Public Health report states, “[apartment neighbourhoods] have the high density and diverse populations needed to support local retail businesses and institutions, community amenities and services that would make them more complete and healthy communities. They also have large and often under used open areas providing the space and flexibility to accommodate positive physical, social and economic improvements.”

Evergreen CityWorks’ work on Tower Renewal is unique in its collaborative, cross-sectoral approach: involving key stakeholders, tower owners, as well as the community members who have the most to gain, in a holistic approach to improving low-income residents’ livelihoods and access to quality jobs. The initiative has three facets:

  • Energy retrofits of existing buildings to reduce carbon emissions and provide greater efficiencies
  • Social retrofits of the building to enhance the liveability for residents and their communities
  • Re-urbanization and redevelopment of the neighbourhood to add density and better use of greenspace

Residents will benefit from improvements to their personal living areas, increased access to social amenities like markets, doctors’ offices and useable greenspace, and the sense of pride and social cohesion that accompanies neighbourhood redevelopment.

Toronto Vital Signs Report:

"Many Toronto neighbourhoods are underserved by affordable supermarkets, but GIS mapping shows there is simply not enough commercial space available for more."

"Over 80% of GTA residents would give up a large home and yard in a car-dependent location to live in a “location-efficient” neighbourhood (close to transit, amenities, and work), whether in the city or the suburbs."

"Nine out of 10 families with children living in Toronto’s aging high-rise apartment buildings in low-income neighbourhoods are inadequately housed and at some risk of housing vulnerability."

What You Can Do

Visiting Schools Program

Activities a Donation Will Support

Donations will fund program delivery, and help cover the costs for transportation, as well as outdoor clothing and equipment for students from high needs neighbourhoods.

Donation impact

Your support will facilitate experiential learning, play and positive development for children from across Toronto, particularly children from Toronto’s highest needs communities.

 

Seeding Healthy Communities

Activities a Donation Will Support

A donation to Seeding Healthy Communities will help maintain and expand existing community gardens across the GTA, create educational opportunities for youth, and deliver gardening workshops for community groups.

Donation impact

Your donation will assist diverse, underserved communities in accessing, building and sustaining food growing projects from the ground up. Together we will improve the health and well-being of Canadians by increasing access to nutritious, affordable, locally grown food and facilitating behavioral change through increased awareness, knowledge and skills building among disadvantaged urban populations.

Tower Renewal

Activities a Donation Will Support

Donations will fund the establishment a showcase project; a pilot site which will act as a prototype of the full Tower Renewal vision.

Donation impact

Your support will transform inefficient and isolated buildings into dynamic, integrated and low carbon community hubs. You will help make these buildings more vital, more liveable, more energy-efficient, and less costly to live in, enhancing the quality of life for all residents.

Contact

Jessica Thornton
Manager, Strategic Initiatives
416.596.1495 x239
Charitable Number: 131815763RR0001

Finance & Governance

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