Credit Valley Conservation led the project to green the grounds of St. George’s Anglican Church in Georgetown, Ontario, with a mini forest. The project replaced conventional lawn on 100 m2 of the 1852-built church property located on the banks of Silver Creek, a tributary of the Credit River. The mini forest was made up of 396 trees and shrubs from 32 different native species typical of local forest communities. 

The Project

CVC began their partnership with the church as a part of their Hungry Hollow Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan initiative. This program seeks to engage the local community and bring together stakeholders to advance sustainability objectives on a neighbourhood scale.  

CVC reached out St George’s with this mini forest project proposal understanding the suitability of the site and the church’s goals to implement sustainable landscaping. The planting event was initially advertised within the church’s community gatherings and website. Organizations in the region — like Scouts Canada and Trees for Halton Hills — were also invited for collaboration.   

The site was prepared with layers of cardboard, compost and mulch to suppress the lawn and support the planting. Fungal mycorrhizae were added to the soil to support the tree roots as they grow. Signage will be installed to provide an educational component to curious onlookers and recognition for those involved with the creation of the planting. 

One of the more successful aspects of the project was partnering with the church — a community stakeholder who was able not only to provide an impactful and highly visible site, but also an engaged and motivated group of volunteers. CVC attests to the fact that the project helped collaborate with existing groups in the community such as Hungry Hollow SNAP and Trees for Halton Hills, and engage new volunteers who would hopefully be a part of this network for future events.     

The church community has committed to provide ongoing maintenance of the site. CVC will provide monitoring and technical guidance to the church including a management guide. 

“We found Green Communities Canada exceptionally organized, and the meetings and the resources were very useful. There were some small tweaks to resources to ensure they were appropriate for our circumstances. We sincerely hope that the Living Cities Fund continues to be a source of expertise and funds for our participants.” – Brendan Gallant, Credit Valley Conservation 

Lessons Learned

This Demonstrate Stream project helped the leaders identify several issues that would help future green infrastructure projects easier. They noted that site preparation could have taken place earlier in the season but was delayed due to issues with contractor procurement and approvals.  

The project may have benefitted from soil amendment, but this seemed beyond budgetary limitations. The compost layer specified didn’t end up having as much organic material in it as the team hoped. 

Final Thoughts

CVC is confident the project will be instrumental in spreading knowledge about the mini forest technique within the watershed and the surrounding communities. The demonstrated potential of this planting technique, as well as connections made during its implementation, give hopes for the implementation of future green infrastructure action projects. 

CVC is using the project as an example to explain the mini forest concept to other partners and have already been contacted to provide support and information for other similar projects in neighbouring towns.  

This project was supported by Green Communities Canada’s Living Cities Canada Fund.