Providing a Place for Pollinators in Toronto

“I feel like God has entrusted us to take care of creation,” says Sandy Yuen, member of Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church. “Many people care about the environment and these gardens are a way to build relationsips with our neighbours.”

Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church looked at their property to dream of how they could recreate the space around their church.

It has been a great way to engage with our neighbours.

Pollinators are in decline because of loss of habitat, pesticides, climate change and various other reasons. With the assistance of the PollinateTO grant from the City of Toronto, Sandy and Ginetta Peters, a local Toronto Beaches resident, collaborated to make a plan for a pollinator garden. They cleaned up the existing garden and purchased soil to create the beds. The David Suzuki Foundation and Project Swallowtail donated many of the pollinator friendly plants.

youth and adults posing after planting garden“Because we were doing this during Covid, we were limited in how many people could be together, even outside,” said Sandy. Over two days of planting, people in the congregation signed up in one-hour time slots. As one family finished, the next would arrive.

Due to social restrictions, TCMC needed to be creative in their educational activities. “We were still in pretty heavy lockdown mode,” recalls Sandy. “We planned a screening of the Flight of the Butterflies.” After sending out invitations on social media and to friends and families, over 100 households attended the online screening. SK Films kindly allowed them to air the documentary in both Mandarain and English languagues free of charge.

Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church also has a community garden on their property for neighbours and community groups.

“Because we are in Toronto many people don’t have access to garden space and fresh produce as readily as those outside the city,” says Sandy. “It has been a great way to engage with our neighbours.”

It’s good to get our hands dirty and really experience God’s providence.

youth and adults planting a raised gardenEach spring they hold a giant planting day where everyone comes to plant together in a family-friendly event. “It’s good to get our hands dirty and really experience God’s providence,” says Sandy. “God provides food for us and this is a very tangible way to see that. It’s satisfying to plant it, care for it and harvest it. It really connects you with the earth and makes you think about where your food comes from.”

As the pollinator garden is planted and the vegetable gardens are well established, TCMC continues to maintain them as a community, providing places for pollinators to thrive and work as well as providing food and community to those around them.