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Evergreen - What It Is
by Marilotte Bloemen
May 26, 2002

The only national organization dedicated to community-based urban restoration 

Today, 78 per cent of Canadians live in cities and urban development is at an all-time high. More than ever, there is an immediate need to conserve natural areas in rapidly developing suburbs, restore nature in urban centres, and reconnect people with nature. 

Evergreen is a national non-profit organization that is creating healthier, more livable communities by engaging citizens in restoring nature on schools grounds, public lands and the home landscape. 

Evergreen's mission is to bring communities and nature together for the benefit of both. Community involvement in naturalization - using native plant species to restore degraded landscapes - is a catalyst for social change. This change is achieved through hands-on action; people working together to improve the natural environment and the health of their community. 

Evergreen's programs foster change at the local level by inspiring people to take action, providing them with the training, tools and education to bring about positive change, and supporting their efforts through recognition and celebration. 

Evergreen achieves its mission through three core programs:

Learning Grounds: brings teachers, students and neighbours together to transform traditionally barren play grounds into dynamic, natural outdoor learning environments by planting trees, shrubs, wildflowers and creating vegetable and butterfly gardens, murals and sculptures. These outdoor classrooms provide students with a healthy and safe place to play, learn, and develop a genuine respect for nature and each other. 

Common Grounds: brings together land use planners, landscape architects and the community to restore public lands. By planting native trees and shrubs and creating wildflower gardens, otherwise barren landscapes can be transformed into thriving natural areas that create community pride and identity among Canada's diverse communities 

Home Grounds: teaches people to restore and enhance the natural environment at home - in their yards, balconies or rooftops. Home Grounds focuses on practicing organic lawn care, eliminating pesticides and artificial fertilizers, planting native species and creating wildlife habitat.

Evergreen's communications serve as a call to action. Its programs respond to this call to action and give people the practical tools to create change through:

resources to train, educate and inspire - these include guidebooks, newsletters, policy guidelines, videos, curriculum activities and research reports (available in hard copy and on-line); 

facilitating dialogue and providing training through a regional conference series and local workshops; 

leading and supporting hands-on site restoration initiatives; 

an interactive web site which includes a registry of school and community projects, an on-line searchable library of articles, organizations, other web sites and nurseries; 

grants for school ground projects; and a team of experienced staff across the country.

Evergreen's goals by 2002 are to:

support communities in the creation of 2,000 new public gardens on school grounds, public lands and home landscapes across Canada; 

actively involve 500,000 Canadian students and educate 6.3 million; 

involve one million Canadians in the process of creating healthy, caring communities; and encourage Canadians to embrace innovative ecological gardening techniques.

Evergreen is funded by the generous support of individual Canadians, foundations, businesses and various government agencies. Major funding partners include: The Government of Canada's Millennium Partnership Program; Toyota Canada Inc.; Suncor Energy Foundation; The Globe and Mail; Alliance Atlantis; and Avid Media. 

Evergreen has grown steadily since its inception in 1991. Starting with three staff in Toronto, the organization now has a regional office in Vancouver, projects and staff across Canada, and a joint venture in Cuba. Initially addressing relatively simple projects such as tree planting, Evergreen now manages highly developed, holistic programs that address issues of community development, environmental education, biodiversity conservation, urban ecology and green space planning. 

Since its establishment, Evergreen has facilitated more than 1,100 community and school ground greening projects across Canada. Its work has been recognized for its efforts with several awards including the 1996 Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-profit Innovation. In December 2000, we were recognized by the Globe and Mail as one of Canada's "10 best charities to donate to." 

For more information please visit or contact: 

Marilotte Bloemen 
Tel: (416) 596-1495 x25



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