2021 was a year of growth and development at Green Venture. We saw our community rallying around local Climate Action in a myriad of ways.
Province-wide shutdowns, school closures and climate fears and eco-anxiety hit youth in our community hard. During this difficult time, we saw demand grow for environmental education programs that could help youth connect in meaningful and impactful ways. We launched 3 new youth-focused programs: YouthQuake, Youth Stewardship and Professional Skills Program, and our Waste and Water Workshops. We also kept our subsidized Nature Kids after-school nature program going through three seasons and welcomed families back to EcoHouse for the BGC Hamilton-Halton EarlyON Woodlands outdoor program. Our Education programs grew under the dynamic leadership of a new Education Program Manager, Heather Govender, our summer intern Carla Arbelaez, and a new Program Coordinator, Liesel Knight-Messenger.
Demand for our Community Climate Action support programs also grew. We launched the gardening season with the first virtual Hamilton Seedy Saturday and seed swap. Seedy Saturday’s website reached 15,000 people eager to access garden resources. Over 700 people attended our 10 virtual workshops. We also mailed out free packages of local seeds to over 250 home gardeners and community gardens – that’s 1500 seed packages going to support locally grown food right in Hamilton. We collected 533 pounds of fresh local produce through Grow A Row and supported food sovereignty and seed saving by collecting and distributing thousands more free seed packets in 7 Little Free Library locations across Hamilton. We formed new partnerships with the Immigrants Working Centre and supported their Ladies’ Gardening Group. The EcoHouse gardens thrived and several were completely revamped with the support of a hardworking team of weekly garden volunteers, highschool student volunteers, our summer intern, Rebecca Maxwell, and under the guidance of our knowledgeable Garden Consultant, Jessica Gale.
This year, the Government of Canada launched the Greener Homes Grant in an effort to lower household greenhouse gas emissions. Eligible Canadian homeowners can receive up to $5,600 for home energy retrofits. In 2021, we conducted 296 home energy evaluations, and completed 138 home energy evaluations after retrofits. To meet the demand for home energy retrofit support and auditor advice, our Energy Team also grew. We welcomed Dean Anderson as a new Registered Energy Advisor, and Moises Albanes as a new Program Coordinator. We are very excited for what’s to come as our energy program is growing in terms of capacity, scope and influence.
In 2021, we launched Hamilton’s first rebate and support program for water-friendly yards, called NATURhoods. Our vision for NATURhoods is neighbourhoods where resilient and diverse front and backyards and greener streets help our city achieve the program’s acronym – Naturally Adapting to Urban Runoff. Through NATURhoods we are supporting Hamilton residents to install rain gardens, bioswales, rain harvesting and other forms of landscaping that help reduce flooding, prevent stormwater runoff pollution, and support biodiversity. We provide up to $500 in rebates, one-on-one coaching visits, training workshops, education campaigns, and community Extreme Green Makeover demonstration projects. Homeowners and community members have helped absorb 1,419,529 litres of stormwater annually!
Depave Paradise also grew in 2021, with the removal of 3177 square feet of crumbling asphalt and the completion of two beautiful Depave gardens on Barton Street boulevards. These projects are bolstered by the generosity of many local contractors and businesses. In the past year, our Depave Paradise program received over $40,000 in in-kind services from local businesses.
Our Canopy for Community program launched a new project focused on Urban Forest Tree Equity. In collaboration with City Housing Hamilton, the City of Hamilton Forestry Section, Trees for Hamilton and researchers and students from the University of Toronto and McMaster University, we measured and assessed the health of over 1000 trees at 20 City Housing properties and surveyed City Housing residents to develop tree planting and stewardship action plans. We also extended our community tree plantings in Ward 5 by planting 965 trees. We created a new forest patch at King Street and Nash, and returned to tend and steward the trees we planted last year along the same stretch at King Street and Pottruff. Volunteers also helped us create Hamilton’s first Miyawaki-inspired tiny forest at Windermere Basin. To support this amazing community greening work, Miranda Burton joined our team as a new Green Infrastructure Program Manager, and Bella Aoshana joined as a new Program Coordinator.
We are grateful to our community that banded together this year to take Climate Action into their own hands. Over 250 volunteers were engaged with our work giving over 1000 hours back to the community. Our community took action with our Local Climate Action campaigns. We delivered 6 campaigns reaching 508 people directly and an estimated 10,000 through social media. Learn more about these campaigns here.
Your support as volunteers, program participants, funders, partners and donors is helping address the Climate Crisis head on, and is showing our governments that our community is serious about solving the Climate Crisis. Action like this on a local scale has far reaching positive impacts. Looking forward to 2022, we see an even more impactful year ahead, and we are feeling more committed than ever to our mission of making our city a Climate Champion.
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Happy holidays and a happy new year!
– Green Venture Team