“From the smallest seed comes a giant, life-giving tree”
Written by Mary Roufail, Greenhouse Team Lead
The Stop’s annual seedling (baby plant) giveaway has been growing strong for almost 10 years, sprouting up soon after our greenhouse started operating in December 2008.
Thousands of seedlings—grown organically in our greenhouse for months, from the depth of winter to springtime—are distributed for free to community gardens throughout the GTA.
For community gardens, many of which are run by volunteers and don’t have a budget to purchase organic plants, the seedlings go a long way towards providing healthy, fresh produce for their community members.
A great deal of seedlings are also grown for The Stop’s own garden programs, such as the Earlscourt Community Garden and Global Roots gardens, and as giveaways to participants at our 1884 Davenport location.
This year, our keen, energetic crew of greenhouse staff and volunteers—with support from other Stop staff members—planted and cared for over 8,000 seedlings, a variety of herbs and vegetables, different kinds of tomatoes, onions, peppers, basil, zucchini, pak choi, cucumbers, bitter melon, marigold flowers, and so much more.
Most of these were distributed from just before the May long weekend (in time for the unofficial start of garden season) through June, and are now thriving in community gardens throughout the city, from Malvern to South Etobicoke, Regent Park, Parkdale and more.
The community gardens that received seedlings work with over 500 garden members and volunteers. Meanwhile, the thousands of plants started in the greenhouse will provide at least 1,000 kg of fresh delicious food throughout the city by the end of summer.
I’d like to give a special, tremendous thanks to The Stop’s greenhouse staff (especially Maria and Ping) who have been working hard day in and out to ensure the seedlings are planted and cared for, all the while maintaining all the other plants in the greenhouse, as well as the facilities and programs—including our mid-scale outdoor composting system and the multiple indoor worm bins.
What else does The Stop’s Greenhouse Program do?
- Facilitate weekly volunteer shifts that provide great learning and community building opportunities. Here’s a quote from recent volunteer: “Before volunteering with the greenhouse, I didn’t know how to grow plants from seed. I thought the winter was a ‘dead time’ for plants. The greenhouse was alive with growth! That was such an important thing to learn, I’ll always remember that.”
- Facilitate the popular Global Roots multicultural, inter-generational garden program in partnership with CultureLink
- Grow plants all year, which are then distributed to volunteers and used in The Stop’s community meal and kitchen programs
- Mentor placement students and new urban agriculture staff on organic methods, greenhouse growing, composting, group facilitation, and more.
- Lead composting activities and demonstrations throughout the year
- Present monthly drop-ins during fall/winter for anyone to come in and enjoy the greenhouse
- Organize hands-on workshops on topics such as herb-based healing and pollinators
Ping, Maria, and Mary pose with their seedlings.
Want to learn more about The Stop’s greenhouse? Contact Mary at 416-651-7867 ext. 21