Category Archives: Beautification

Meet Carol Holland

RoncyWorks Green Team Profiles

Carol Holland has been gardening with RoncyWorks for 5 years. She maintains three gardens located at 465, 392 and 319 Roncesvalles. In addition, Carol regularly monitors the gardens on the street, tending to them as she goes along. She is quick to help other gardeners who need advice or an extra hand. The RoncyWorks team refer to Carol as an unsung hero and their Garden Angel. We appreciate her dedication immensely.

Carol’s Bed by Roncesvalles Convenience

Carol’s appreciation of Roncy’s sidewalk gardens is what enticed her to garden with RoncyWorks. “I originally saw a sign in a store window that Roncyworks was looking for volunteers,” said Carol. “I had always admired the gardens on the street and I wanted to help.”

In addition to the gardens, Carol has enjoyed working with her fellow RoncyWorks Green Team members. “I find the other volunteers very inspiring. We have a group of very interesting, and knowledgeable people who really care about the street.”

Carol Holland

Before joining RoncyWorks, gardening had been apart of Carol’s life for many years. “I started gardening with my mother when I lived in our family home. When I bought my first home,
I created a garden in my empty yard.”  With all her experience, Carol shares her expertise with other gardeners, as they do with her. “Since starting, I’ve continued to learn from the other volunteers in the Green Team.”

Thank you Carol for beautifying Roncesvalles!

Meet Jackie Taschereau

RoncyWorks Green Team Profiles

Jackie Taschereau has been volunteering with RoncyWorks since 2011. She maintains the gardens at 233 and 223 Roncesvalles.

Jackie’s Garden at 233 Roncy

Jackie often refers to her involvement with RoncyWorks as gardening in the “Public Realm” and for good reason. There are many lessons she’s learnt from maintaining a sidewalk garden, including how the physical design of the bed impacts how the public interacts with it. “The slightly raised edge of a planter bed is an irresistible challenge to small children, demanding to be walked along to prove balance skills. This is preceded and followed by hopping on and off the bench.”

Jackie’s Garden at 223 Roncy

Another challenge of Jackie’s and her RoncyWorks volunteers is protecting the gardens from doubling as urban landfills. “Probably as much time is spent picking up garbage as is actually spent on gardening”. The litter Jackie and other gardeners deal far too often includes “cigarette butts and packs, coffee cups, food containers and remains, wrappers, soda cans and plastic bottles.”

Despite these setbacks, Jackie has found the benefits of tending to sidewalk gardens enriching in many ways. “I now have far better knowledge of tough plants that will survive in shade or partial shade”. Another “unforeseen benefit” of gardening has been meeting people from all walks and a newfound understanding of the importance of public gardens to communities. “I’ve got to talk to all sorts of people on the street, whom I would never otherwise have had conservations with,” said Jackie. “I find myself looking at public plantings all over the city, noticing what works and where there are problems.”

 

Meet Ann Crichton-Harris and Rahel Schneeberger-Brown

RoncyWorks Green Team Profiles

As part of Garden Days 2018, the Roncesvalles Village BIA is showcasing the dedicated community members who maintain our sidewalk gardens and beautify our vibrant street. 

Ann Crichton-Harris and Rahel Schneeberger-Brown

Ann Chrichton-Harris and Rahel Schneeberger-Brown maintain the Garden at 482 Roncesvalles, in front of Rahel’s business George Brown Legal Services. Ann also cares for the garden across the street at 465 Roncesvalles.

A long-time resident of Roncesvalles, Ann has been a gardener with RoncyWorks since its founding in 2011. She decided to volunteer “because it seemed like a lovely community thing” to get involved with. Ann enjoys gardening with RoncyWorks in large part because of the friendship’s she’s made with other volunteers and the interactions she has with the public.”

Rahel’s first involvement with Roncy Works was actually as a “pirate” gardener. “I planted all orange flowers to match our branding; once they were cut I joined RoncyWorks.” One unique aspect of Ann and Rahel’s garden at 482 Roncesvalles is that most of its plants are edible. “I’ve always had an interested in food gardens,” said Rahel. She also appreciates sidewalk gardening because she’s able to share the produce she grows with community members. “This also gives me an opportunity to push away from my desk, step out of the office and let people know that they can pick herbs and vegetables. I always am amazed by how many people are willing to eat food grown so close to the road. – At times we are taking for granted that vegetables can be bought at a store; what I came to realize is that not everybody is able to afford them.”

Gardening is something that has been dear to both Ann and Rahel for many years. Ann, who has training in Landscape Design from Ryerson University, was introduced to the craft by her grandmother, who gardened during the Second World War. Still, there is always room for gardeners to grow. “ I think I’m still learning. I learn a lot from my co-workers as many are excellent gardeners.” Rahel was also introduced to gardening as a child both at home, through her mother and grandmother, and in elementary school, where gardening is compulsory.

On behalf of Roncesvalles, thank you Ann and Rahel for your dedication!

Meet Abby Bushby

RoncyWorks Green Team Profiles

To mark Garden Days 2018, the Roncesvalles Village BIA is showcasing the dedicated community members who maintain our sidewalk gardens and beautify our vibrant street.

Abby Bushby

Abby Bushby is the Chair the Friends of Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden organization and a volunteer gardener with Roncy Works. She maintains the Peace Garden located at the eastern corner of Roncy and Dundas.

The Peace Garden was constructed in 2016, “after a few years of research, advocacy, community collaborations, artistic planning, and drumming up of support.” This collaboration included a partnership with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, who have designated the Peace Garden as a “place of heritage and continued interest through the Moccasin Identifier Project.

According to Abby, advocating for the Peace Garden was about beautification and commemoration. “Gardening at the Peace Garden grew out of a wish to green and beautify a sad and sterile intersection at Dundas and Roncy with an odd, concrete jut of land,” said Abby. “The Peace Garden celebrates the historical origins of this portion of Dundas Street, as both an Indigenous path, and as a military road for the Battle of York 1813.” In addition to the historical significance of the Peace Garden, Abby also appreciates “nurturing the native species of trees, grasses and floral plants, as well as the companionship of other Peace Garden and RoncyWorks gardeners.”

Sprouting Sacred Tobacco

One unique attribute of the Peace Garden is how it features indigenous sacred plants and art engravings, known as the Peace Path. “We continue to work with Indigenous partners to grow and illustrate traditional Indigenous agriculture. Last year it was a Three Sisters Mound of corn, beans, squash, as taught to us by growers at Six Nations of the Grand River. This year we are growing sacred tobacco from seeds gifted by a woman from Sheguiandah First Nation, and planted by Chief Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.”

Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden

Maintaining the Peace Garden and its public square is raft of challenges, due in large part to its location and popularity. “Maintenance of the Garden presents some challenge. Maria Kolos and I sweep up butts and pull coffee cups out of the plant beds. We clear furniture and advertisement clutter from the displayed community arts projects.” However, receiving compliments on the Peace Garden and explaining its purpose to visitors makes all of the maintenance worth it. “More rewarding though, every time we garden, one or more passersby stop to say ‘thanks’, and to chat about the purposes of the Peace Garden, which enriches us all.  In every conversation we learn a little, and impart a little more appreciation of public, streetside garden for a greener community.”

Learn more about the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden here. 

Meet Mary Wiens

RoncyWorks Green Team Profiles

In celebration of Garden Days 2018, the Roncesvalles Village BIA is showcasing the dedicated community members who maintain our sidewalk gardens and beautify our vibrant street.

Mary Wiens

Mary Wiens has been a volunteer gardener with RoncyWorks since the community group was established in 2011. Mary helped launch RoncyWorks because “she was excited to continue involvement with other people in the community who had been meeting to discuss some improvements to the public realm along Roncesvalles”. Mary maintains the garden at 305 Roncesvalles in front of The Dizzy Gastro Sports Pub.

During her time on the Roncesvalles Renewed committee, Mary and her fellow residents advocated for improved greenery on the street. Through community engagement and partnerships with local officials, Roncesvalles Renewed secured funding for various beautification initiatives proposed by residents. This included 21 new garden beds and “better planting of street trees, which at that time struggled to survive in small concrete planter boxes that were both an impediment and an eyesore along Roncesvalles.”

Mary’s Garden at 305 Roncy

RoncyWorks sprung from Roncesvalles Renewed in 2011, after committee members and residents expressed interest in maintaining the new gardens. “Using the friendships and relationships we’d forged in that process, it made sense to build on them, by creating teams to tend the new garden beds.”

For Mary, developing friendships with RoncyWorks volunteers and community members has made public gardening especially rewarding. “I’ve met some of the best people in the neighbourhood through this community work, and my encounters with a growing circle of friends any time I go out on Roncy are enormously enriching.” It is this sense of community that also makes each of the gardeners’ beds unique in Mary’s view. “The tough little rose bushes in my bed in front of The Dizzy surprise and delight me every year, as do the plants tended by my fellow gardeners. The planting beds have a charm and personality that you don’t see in professionally maintained beds tended by the city’s parks and rec department.”

Of course, overseeing a public garden is not easy. It requires flexibility and patience. However, learning from one another has allowed Mary and her fellow gardeners to overcome the challenges affecting their gardens. “We share our victories and failures — everything from painting butt tins to a good rainfall, to our battle with dogs and vandals — with each other online. We take the vandalism,the dogs and the cigarette butts more personally. But we also take every good rainfall and every compliment from a passerby more personally as well.”