In Praise of RoncyWorks Gardeners

Following the reconstruction of Roncesvalles Avenue in 2011, some community volunteers spontaneously started weeding and picking up litter in the 21 plant beds along the street. More gardeners volunteered and by 2013, the RoncyWorks Green Team was formed in partnership with the Roncesvalles Village BIA. Over the years, their work has enjoyed much praise and recognition. 

Their labour of love has brought a lot of joy to the neighbourhood:  

  • Not only have the gardeners studied and selected suitable plants for the various conditions, they have weeded, tended, and nurtured the garden beds, they have improved the soil, picked up litter and sometimes supplemented the watering.
  • They have favoured predominantly Canadian native shrubs and flowering species, which attract butterflies, other pollinators, and birds.
  • One of the most rewarding activities for the street gardeners has been to chat with passers-by about plants, trees, and pollinator species. It’s been an opportunity for horticultural education, and urban habitat preservation. 
  • Also, the gardeners act as unofficial street ambassadors, giving directions or on-the-spot reviews for nearby attractions. They enjoy a cooperative partnership with the Roncesvalles Village BIA in welcoming people to the area.
  • They have enhanced our cultural identity as an eco-friendly community, and have extended the ecosystems of High Park into the urban neighbourhood. 

It’s been a delight to see an increase in pollinators in these gardens over the years. Watching a Monarch butterfly linger in a garden on the east side of Roncy, flutter across the street to settle in the garden on the west side, and seeing people photograph Black Swallowtail butterflies hovering amongst flowers on the street confirms its use as a corridor for pollinators travelling through the Village.

These gardens are cherished by many in the community for their diversity and eco-friendly approach that contrasts with the formal corporate gardening typical of many main streets that have planters. And, by many business members and directors of the RVBIA who showed appreciation to our street gardeners, which amplified the goodwill generated by beautiful street gardens.

Roncy’s unique gardens, including the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden that was constructed in 2016, and the community volunteers behind them all, have been formally recognized, receiving numerous awards listed below.

Volunteer Gardener and BIA Member stand behind the street garden they collaborated on.
Long-time volunteer gardener Ann Crichton-Harris and former Roncesvalles Village BIA Member Rahel Schneeberger-Brown collaborated on the garden south of Boustead Avenue over several years.

Most of the Green Team members have gardened on Roncesvalles for 7 to 10 years and five were part of the BIA’s original community consultation committee for the main street redesign. This shows how deeply embedded volunteering for our community has been on Roncy. 

RoncyWorks wants to express our deep gratitude to all these dedicated volunteers — most of whom continued to tend the gardens during the pandemic in 2020 — and to former Green Team members who put in a lot of time over the years, before they moved away. 

During the current lockdown, the gardens continue to flourish on their own. It’s a testament to the attention and care they’ve received over the years.

Garden Gallery 2020

Browse through our Garden Gallery.

LIST OF AWARDS:

2011 TABIA, to RVBIA for Streetscape Improvements (Roncesvalles Renewed)

2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Awards: 2012, to four members of the RVBIA Beautification Committee, RoncyWorks, and the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden for community service.

2013 TABIA, to RVBIA for innovative volunteer program RoncyWorks

2016 Ontario Horticultural Association, District 15 Youth Award Grant, to DRPG for tulip planting event

2017 Ontario Horticultural Association, William Baker Youth Award, to DRPG

2017 TABIA, to RVBIA and DRPG for the Peace Garden

2018 International Downtown Association, Award of Excellence, to RVBIA, City of Toronto, DRPG

2019 Community Leadership Award, Arif Virani MP: A. Bushby for DRPG

2019 Community Recognition Award, Bhutilla Karpoche MPP: Friends of DRPG

2019 TABIA, to RVBIA butterfly and pollinator gardening initiatives

2021 Parkdale-High Park Community Champion Award, MP Arif Virani: RoncyWorks Green Team Volunteers

Read more:

Greening of Roncy Part 1

Greening of Roncy Part 2

Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden

Earth Day Clean Up along Roncy

Coinciding with nationally recognized Earth Day, on April 22, 2017, several members of RoncyWorks arrived to clean planter beds, sweep up litter and remove aging signage along the length of Roncesvalles Avenue. This effort was part of the annual RoncyWorks spring cleanup and the City’s Clean Toronto Together campaign.

Three members of RoncyWorks enjoying a sunny break on Roncesvalles Avenue during the spring cleanup.

Hilary, Veronica and Rahel are please to note a decrease in litter including cigrette butts in the gardens along Roncesvalles and grateful for the street culture changes that have led to this. PHOTO CREDIT: Claude Barnes

RoncyWorks volunteer holding broom and bag of cigarette litter.

RoncyWorks gardener, John Sledziewski picked a bagful of butts from the gardens and swept around the edges, for a finishing touch. PHOTO CREDIT: Claude Barnes

The Premiere RoncyWorks Appreciation Dinner

Caught in the act of enjoying a totally awesome spread. Thank you David Neinstein and BIA Member contributors.

Caught in the act of enjoying a totally awesome spread. Thank you David Neinstein and Roncesvalles Village BIA Member contributors. Photo Credit: Ted Best

Of course, the food was amazing. Drawing from an array of culinary excellence, no fewer than a dozen Roncy Village eateries charitably provided delectables for an open bar gathering of RoncyWorkers, RVBIA Board Members, supporters and local patrons.

The entire multi-coursed feast including Hot Chocolate and Desert bar that followed was overseen by Barque’s Event Planning specialist; David Neinstein.

High Park Library's Head Librarian, Brian Bertrand and Reverend Anne Hines share the fun as Masters of Ceremony.

High Park Library’s Head Librarian, Brian Bertrand and Reverend Anne Hines share the fun as Masters of Ceremony. Photo Credit: Ted Best

Held at Roncesvalles United Church and co-Hosted by Rev. Anne Hines and Brian Bertrand, who is the head librarian at the High Park Library, the four-hour event attended by 43 locals which included 29 volunteers and members of the Roncesvalles Village BIA Board — was punctuated with awards, gift giving and group celebration with those who help make RoncyWorks a community engagement success.
RoncyWorks is the volunteer arm of the BIA, with an army of community people who come together to oversee the streetscape of Roncesvalles Ave by strategizing the tree canopy, maintaining the plant beds, and sweeping cigarette butt litter.

Additionally,  RoncyWorks members spearhead community projects such as the launching of the Dundas West / Roncesvalles Peace Garden, Shine Your Light Campaign  and the annual Earth Hour Walk.   Roncy works because the Roncesvalles community works together.

Outstanding RoncyWorks Volunteers 2016

  1. THE GARDEN ELF AWARD – Carol Holland
  2. THE TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL AWARD – Luke Jackson
  3. THE SNOWBALL AWARD – Maria Currusca
  4. THE MORNING AFTER AWARD – Mary Weins
  5. THE TULIPS ON PARADE AWARD – Abby Bushby
  6. THE BUTT BEGONE AWARD – Mark Griesbrecht

Door Prizes

  • The Ace
  • Avalon Dentistry on Roncesvalles
  • Barque
  • Cookery
  • De La Mer
  • The Dizzy
  • Dundas West Animal Hospital
  • Gloria Espresso Bar and Café
  • George Brown Legal Services
  • Home Smith
  • Kennel Cafe
  • La Cubana
  • Lambretta Pizzeria
  • Loons Restaurant & Pub
  • Mabel’s Bakery
  • The Mercantile
  • Moretti Hair
  • Pizzeria Defina
  • Pollocks Home Hardware
  • Robert Crisp – Royal LePage Realty
  • Scooter Girl Toys
  • Snap Fitness
  • Starbucks
  • Stasis Preserves
  • Sweet Thrills
  • Village Juicery
  • Willem and Jools Flowers

Photo Credit: Tom Kane

Fine Dining Contributors

  • The Ace
  • Barque
  • De La Mer
  • Defina Pizzeria
  • The Dizzy
  • Gloria Espresso Bar and Café
  • Hopgood’s Foodliner
  • La Cubana
  • Lambretta Pizzeria
  • Mabel’s
  • McAuslan Brewery
  • Stasis Preserves

Business Sponsored Volunteer Recognition Gifts

Every RoncyWork member received a RoncyWorker Appreciation card offering a $5 discount at participating businesses

  • The Ace
  • Barque
  • The Cookery
  • De La Mer
  • Defina Pizzeria
  • The Dizzy
  • Gloria Espresso Bar and Café
  • Home Smith
  • La Cubana
  • Mabel’s
  • The Mercantile
  • Hopgood’s Foodliner
  • Kennel Cafe
  • Lambretta Pizzeria
  • Pollocks Home Hardware
  • Scooter Girl Toys
  • Snap Fitness
  • Stasis Preserves
  • Sweet Thrills
  • Moretti Hair
  • Willem and Jools Flowers

If you’d like to join our team please contact:  manager@roncesvallesvillage.ca

Urban Gardening: Growing plants together

elder:strawberries

As above ~ So below.   Strawberries planted under an Elderberry bush in a wood chip mulched bed

All along Roncesvalles Avenue, the garden beds are cleverly integrated with decorative, stylized and sometimes edible flora. It’s just one happy display of plants in all different colours, ethnicity, genders, reproductive variations and levels of intelligence.

Unless, of course, a plant’s natural tendency is to invade and harm. You’ll not find faithful RoncyWorks members doting upon such outcasts.

Growing various botanical species together is not new, it’s the basis of permaculture and urban gardening and it was created because space is limited. Companion planting is beneficial because flowers attract pollinators that help food-producing vegetables, fruits and berries to flourish past the flowering stage. 

The Victorians called it cottage gardening, in fact the little white picket fence was actually created to not only fence in cottage gardens from little creatures, but also to serve as a trellis support for vining vegetables like; cucumber, squash, watermelon, beans and peas.

If you don’t have ground space, use containers. Creative metal art, twigs or bamboo poles can serve as a climbing medium for vertical gardening.

planter1

Intending to grow up

planter2

Container Gardening

Herbs are delightful multi use additions to a garden.  They look great, add variety and survive snips and clips as they’re offered up in culinary dishes. Besides, growing your own food is an organic, zero carbon footprint action that is an affordable solution for families. 

Growing things together is an example of the “great big one” that we have all become.

IMG_0234

Rhubarb is delightfully architectural

Chives

Allowing some chives to flower