Organized: Christie Pearson & Ariana Cancelli

With: The Friends of Alexandra Park, Doug Bennett, Brian Green, City of Toronto Parks Forestry and Recreation, Live Green Toronto, Krista Fry, Kevin Lee, Scadding Court Community Centre, Lorraine Johnson, Scott Torrance, Susan Poizner, Laura Reinsborough, Not Far From the Tree, Anna Hill, Park People, Scott McIvor, Centre for Local Research into Public Space, Theatre Passe Muraille, LEAF, Connon Nurseries

Site: Alexandra Park, Toronto

Plantings: 2009-13; organization ongoing

Grants & Awards: Live Green Toronto, Evergreen, Weston Family Parks, MPP Rosario Marchese Community Award

Media: Toronto Star, CBC Metro Morning


The Friends of Alexandra Park was established to build community and affection. Often utilized by a fraction of its potential users Alexandra Park can be perceived as unsafe, unfriendly, and inaccessible. As we densify residential units in the downtown core this park needs to be reconsidered to serve the immediate community and the broader city. Inspired by similar urban park groups and the publication Fertile Ground for New Thinking: Improving Toronto’s Parks by David Harvey/Metcalf Foundation, we focused on public engagement and event programming including public meetings, safety audits, web presence, and skating, cleanup and planting parties. For this space to feel more loved and connected we organized events and built relationships with local residents, co-operatives, community centre, library, pool, school, community garden, and cultural organizations. We built upon existing programs, facilities, and the existing collection of extraordinary large and well-established trees which are a legacy of its history. The necessary removal of a significant number of Ash due to disease was a stimulus to action.


The vision for multiple planting projects was the EDIBLE PARK. Establishing native edible plants for both humans and insects will build an ever-cumulative experience of abundance, biodiversity, and pleasure over time. As a group we developed planting plans with knowledgeable, local experts as our guides. The 35 new EDIBLE TREES included sugar maples for tapping and edible fruit, nut and flower species such as redbud, serviceberry, paw paw; dozens of EDIBLE SHRUBS included hazelnut, chokeberry, raspberry, highbush cranberry, and our POLLINATOR WALK included hundreds of native species such as beebalm, coneflower, aster, hyssop, sunflower, and yarrow.