Browse and download for free research papers and publications prepared by Ecosource and partners to deepen your understanding of the environmental sector and key issues in Ontario.

Deep Roots: Case studies in strengthening neighbourhood food systems through community gardening in Mississauga by Monika Bianco & Britt McKee

Ecosource’s Deep Roots project was designed to prioritize deep engagement in our 10 community gardens from 2019-2021. Through consultation with residents and community groups, we designed and piloted 10 action projects to assess how different initiatives might meet the unique needs of each garden community. With this approach, our garden projects were able to engage 2,323 residents and 18 partners over two years in the midst of a pandemic, resulting in 17,707 pounds of food grown and distributed.



Urban Garden Impacts Survey Summary Results – 2021 by Multiple Authors

Ecosource conducted a survey of our community gardeners at 8 locations in fall 2021: the Malton Community Garden, Parkway Green Generation Garden, Garden of the Valley, Hillside Community Garden, Hancock Woodlands Community Garden, Forest Glen Community Garden, and Small Arms Community Garden. The Urban Garden Impacts Survery Summary Results shares key findings and identifies action areas based on community feedback to improve the efficacy of our community garden program.




Everywhere Nature by Multiple Authors

Ecosource has been implementing nature play programs across the Region of Peel since 2016, and through this work, supported the development of a collaborative group working to increase opportunities for children and families to engage with the outdoors in the Peel and Halton regions. As co-chair of the Peel-Halton Nature Collaborative, Ecosource worked with Collaborative members to create the Everywhere Nature toolkit. This resource is designed to support those working with children and families in fostering positive connections to nature and highlights key considerations for providing equitable nature programming. It aims to empower educators, program facilitators and community organizations to provide inclusive opportunities for engaging in nature with the understanding that the wonders of the outdoors can be found and fostered everywhere.


Get Growing Guide: A Guide to Gardening with Older Adults by Multiple Authors

The Get Growing Seniors Gardening Program provided opportunities for older adults to discover the outdoors and participate in physical activity through gardening across Peel. The program overcame barriers to gardening faced by older adults in underserved communities by delivering hands-on, high-quality activities. Designed for facilitators who work with older adults, the Get Growing Guide includes interactive activity outlines and accommodation strategies to engage older adults of varying abilities in garden-based recreation.




Grown in Mississauga Training Manual by Multiple Authors

Ecosource’s Community Roots project worked with youth leaders in Peel, our Local Food Ambassadors to connect communities with nature and increase their understanding of local food systems. Local Food Ambassadors received urban agriculture and social enterprise training at Ecosource’s 15,000 square-foot urban agriculture site, the Iceland Teaching Garden, in Mississauga. This Grown in Mississauga Training Manual is a collection of our Local Food Ambassadors’ learnings from the Community Roots project. It aims to empower all residents in Peel to grow their own food at home through an interactive step-by-step guide.



Access ReRooted in Play by Catherine Hobbis, Access ReRooted in Play program

Ecosource’s Access ReRooted in Play Companion Resource works to support educators to provide hands-on, active programming for children, youth and adults of all abilities. As an extension of Ecosource’s ReRooted in Play Activity Guide, Access ReRooted aims to reduce barriers and encourage individuals, schools and community organizations to facilitate physically active and fun outdoor learning that is inclusive for all.





Jardin de l’éducation by Multiple Authors

jardin-publication-title-pageEcosource’s Jardin de l’éducation program provided free French-language environmental programming in our community gardens throughout Mississauga.  The program introduced children and families to gardening, using hands-on activities and games to encourage learning.  This bilingual resource not only offers these environmental resources, but it supports French-language learners as well! It includes games and activities for families, students, FSL teachers and French-language educators to inspire them to get growing, all year round! Modules are divided seasonally, to highlight themes most appropriate for the time of year and growing season. Each outline includes age-appropriate activities, with resource materials for French learners of all levels to learn and connect with their local environment.

Le programme, Jardin de l’éducation, a introduit la communauté francophone et francophile de Mississauga et de la région de Peel, aux merveilles du jardinage dans ses jardins communautaires, avec des programmes d’apprentissage pour les enfants et les familles. Le projet, en langue française, avait offert à la communauté une programmation de haute qualité, à la fois environnementale et engageante. Ce guide d’activités offre des idées pour les familles, les élèves et les éducateurs d’écoles de langue française. Nous souhaitons qu’il vous inspirera à jardiner toute l’année ! Les modules sont divisés par saison et ils soulignent les thèmes les plus pertinents pour le temps de l’année et la saison de croissance. Chaque module est aussi divisé selon le groupe d’âge avec des ressources pédagogiques pour tous les niveaux de français, afin d’apprendre et de connecter avec leur environnement local. Pour la publication française, cliquez ici.


Alternative Avenues to Local Food in School: Ingredients for Success by Multiple Authors, Project Coordinated by Coreen Jones, Alternative Avenues Project


Through the Alternative Avenues to Local Food Procurement project, Ecosource and Roots to Harvest worked with teachers, students and food service providers in Durham, Peel and Thunder Bay to develop and test strategies to incorporate local food procurement into secondary school food programs, while engaging students in food literacy. This report outlines the current school food context in each region by considering how school food systems are shaped by multiple actors and what challenges and opportunities to local food procurement are in each region. To illustrate these opportunities and solutions to common challenges, we showcase and describe seven local food pilot projects and developed eight Ingredients for Success or guidelines for implementing local food projects. Looking for local food project ideas to bring to your school? Check out these great local food pilot projects tested through Alternative Avenues:

  1. Community Supported Agriculture at School
  2. Local Food Month
  3. Focus on Garlic
  4. Farm to School
  5. Farm to Caf
  6. Friday Fry Day
  7. School Gardens
  8. Field to Fork


ReRooted in Play Activity Guide by Britt Mckee, ReRooted in Play Program ReRooted in Play Publication

Ecosource’s ReRooted in Play provides opportunities for young people and their families to re-discover outdoor play and participate in learning about healthy bodies and healthy ecosystems at community gardens across Mississauga, Ontario. This unique program expands the recreational options available to local residents while simultaneously redefining what “being fit & active” means to include non-traditional activities like gardening. The 10 activity outlines in this guide highlight the many ways in which gardening can create healthier bodies and healthier ecosystems through play in an outdoor setting.


Cafeteria Connects Curriculum Document by Multiple Authors, Project Managed by Soni Craik, Cafeteria Connects Project

Cafeteria Connects_Curriculum Package_Jan2015_Page_001This curriculum guide offers a rich set of resources to open meaningful conversations with secondary students about our local food system, and to prepare them to better understand the complexities of our food choices. Brimming with big ideas, these 15 lesson plans contain clear curriculum connections, step by step instructions for lesson preparation and delivery, and provide various assessment opportunities and corresponding student worksheets. The lesson plans were written and conceived by Durham District School Board (DDSB) secondary school teachers who have aligned their concepts and outlines with the Ontario provincial learning expectations for the subject areas; Science, Geography, Family Studies, Hospitality and Business.

Within this package you will find reference to digital copies of Excel, Word and Power-Point files. Where possible hard copies have been provided. The additional files are available for downloading on the DDSB portal, or you may contact Ecosource to request a copy at


Stories of Our Past: Visions of Our Future  by Multiple Authors

With support from TD Friends of the Environment, Ecosource conducted a three-part, 3-year evaluation project entitled Stories of Our Past: Visions of Our Future from 2014-2017. This evaluation project offered our past and current program participants an opportunity to speak about their experience working with Ecosource and their hopes for our future. Over 200 sectoral partners, students, teachers, volunteers, funders, and community residents were surveyed with questions probing four key areas: awareness and perceptions of Ecosource, past participation/interaction with Ecosource, motivators/barriers to participation, and future intentions/preferences. The results have helped Ecosource focus on how to further extend the reach of our work through innovative programming and to critically reflect on our key success factors. This downloadable document summarizes our findings and contains lessons learned designed to enable other organizations undergoing similar bold initiatives to navigate and foresee potential obstacles.


Putting Down Roots – Diversity and Community Food Projects by Carolyn Bailey, Journal of Promising Practices on Diversity and Equity, Community Gardens and Urban Agriculture Program

From November 2012 to March 2013, Ecosource engaged in a Determinants of Community Health Survey with support from the University of Toronto Mississauga Faculty of Medicine. This survey sought to better understand the impacts of community food programs on physical and mental health in Mississauga. This research papers highlights the results of the survey project, especially as related to self-reported impacts of participation on feelings of inclusion and ability to explore/share diversity in the community. This article is available for download with the whole Journal of Promising Practices on Diversity and Equity, courtesy of the Regional Diversity Roundtable.


Local and Sustainable Food in Schools Action Plan prepared by Stephanie Crocker, Local Food in Schools Program

SchoolCommunityFoodGardens_ActionPlan_Page_01This document provides the Ontario Edible Education Network’s Action Plan to advance its Local and Sustainable Food in Schools focus area. The Ontario Edible Education Network’s process involved the development of 6 Action Plans for the following priority areas: (1) Food in the Curriculum, (2) Food Education Outside of the Classroom, (3) School and Community Food Gardens Engaging Children, (4) Food Skills and Cooking Programs, (5) Local/Sustainable Food in Schools, and (6) Student Nutrition Programs. This article is available for download courtesy of the Ontario Edible Education Network.


School and Community Food Gardens Engaging Children prepared with help from Carolyn Bailey, Community Gardens and Urban Agriculture Programs


This document provides the Ontario Edible Education Network’s Action Plan to advance its School and Community Food Gardens Engaging Children focus area. The Ontario Edible Education Network’s process involved the development of 6 Action Plans for the following priority areas: (1) Food in the Curriculum, (2) Food Education Outside of the Classroom, (3) School and Community Food Gardens Engaging Children, (4) Food Skills and Cooking Programs, (5) Local/Sustainable Food in Schools, and (6) Student Nutrition Programs. This article is available for download, courtesy of the Ontario Edible Education Network.


How Do Our Gardens Help Us to Grow? by Carolyn Bailey, Community Gardens and Urban Agriculture Programs


Our journey into community gardening began in 2006, when the Garden of the Valley,Mississauga’s first public community garden in a municipal park, opened with 18 plots and a native plant garden. Since this time, through supportive partnerships with the Cityof Mississauga, the MIAG Centre for Diverse Women & Families, Evergreen, the Eden Community Food Bank and the University of Toronto Mississauga, our  gardening program has grown to encompass 6 sites with 116 member plots and a range of food bank plots that engage more than 200 garden members and hundreds of students and community volunteers in local food education and community food production across the City.


A Narrative of Change: Stories about collaboration, education & whole school approaches to sustainability by Sierra Frank, Teacher Education Program

A Narrative of Change_Page_01

This publication is the culmination of a unique and inspirational sustainability teacher education program. The program established a forum for cross-sectoral partnership specifically for educators and professionals dedicated to, and specializing in, sustainability and environmental education.





The Caf Goes Local by Soni Craik, Local Food in Schools Program

The Caf Goes Local_Page_1The Youth and Local Food Program is working to see more local food options in schools, as well as better student understanding of the environmental, economic and social benefits associated with supporting local food systems. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate that a board wide local sustainable food procurement policy can not only harmonize with the new School Food and Beverage Policy but is an ideal way to put it into practice.




Environmental Youth-Adult Partnerships Guide by Stephanie Crocker, Environmental Youth-Adult Partnerships Project


This guide can help you:

  • Start the discussion on youth participation in your school group, organization or community initiative
  • Reflect on your own role
  • Initiate a youth-adult relationship for improved project success – Explore existing models to see what might work for you!




Kenny the Can: An Original Ecosource Story by the Waste Reduction team

Kenny the Can explores the wonders of recycling and follows the story of an aluminum can on his journey to the recycling factory. Discover how to reduce landfill waste and care for the environment by recycling.