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2022 Greener Greenspace Profile

The Gathering Garden at Old's Cool General Store

The Gathering Garden at Old's Cool General Store, created by the design firm RAINscapeTO/Toronto Green Community, is located in East York, Toronto.

Design and Process 

The Old's Cool General Store is a much-loved community hub visited daily by neighbours, students and community members. The 750 sq ft garden is located on a prominent street corner at the entrance to the store. 

The site of the garden was previously covered in pavement. The store's friends and neighbours depaved the asphalt surface and created the garden over three weekends under the guidance of the non-profit organization Toronto Green Community and its social enterprise RAINscapeTO. Volunteers removed the pavement, brought in soil, and planted over 132 trees, shrubs and perennials suitable for the site's sandy soils and sunny conditions. The vegetation, over time, will store carbon, filter the air and water, and help cool the air through shade and transpiration to mitigate the urban heat island effect. The garden has a wide variety of native species that support bird and insect populations, such as Chokecherry trees, Eastern Red Juniper and other native vines, wildflowers and grasses.  

To minimize waste, the removed pavement was placed in gabion baskets for seating around the garden's perimeter. The bulk of the asphalt pavement and gravel base was separated out to be recycled.  As the local community can attest, the transformation of the paved boulevard into a garden has added beauty to the neighbourhood and has contributed to environmental benefits such as stormwater management and wildlife habitat.

Community Collaboration

The staff at Old's Cool maintain the garden by watering, taking care of the plants and removing litter. RAINscapeTO visits on occassion to help weed and mulch. A maintenance plan outlines seasonal tasks related to winter prep, spring cleaning, invasive species removal and soil health. 

The Gathering Garden is one of sixty-six Depave projects in Ontario.  Depave Paradise is a program of Green Communities Canada, a national organization that works in partnership with local environmental organizations on community-led projects. 

This new greenspace and community garden, full of colourful blooms and verdant plant life, is an oasis in the middle of a dense urban neighbourhood. The garden supports the City of Toronto’s Biodiversity Strategy, Pollinator Protection Strategy, Toronto Green Standards, and the Wet Weather Flow Master Plan. 

Visit the store's website here

Learn more about RAINscapeTO

Photos c/o RAINscapeTO

Greener Greenspaces is a recognition program for sites from across Canada that exemplify greener greenspace stewardship. The aim of the program is to showcase examples of ecologically-focused land care as a means to inspire others and to further the movement across Canada.

See the full list of 2022 recognition recipients here

Canadian Society for Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL)
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