Sacred Greenspaces: Outdoor Faith-Based Greening

Are you planning to green your outdoor space? Looking for ways to conserve water indoors and out, how to begin a community garden, or share practical tips on landscaping or pollinator gardens? Scroll down to learn more about what faith communities are doing and ways to get involved.  We will continue to update this page with new resources, your suggestions and our favourite shining examples of outdoor greening.

We are inspired by the many projects undertaken by our ever-growing network of partner groups and faith communities. From community gardens to rainwater collecting, pollinator preservation to gardening workshops, food security or forest stewardship, we invite you to share your success stories! Here are some ideas to get you started:

Learn about healthy soil and organic gardening; here, children learn what good soil is made up of and how composting helps give back to the earth. Later, they plant and pick tasty snacks. Consider adding soil lessons or container gardening and composting workshops to your Vacation Bible School or summer children’s program. Hold a bake sale with the earth at heart: members of Bethany Baptist Church’s Greening Group fundraise to send children to Country Fun Nature Camp – an eco-ecumenical camp – by selling pies with fruit and berries picked on the church’s property. Could your faith community  support a local eco-camp?
Start a community garden! Above: Trinity-Nazarene breaks new ground. Help provide space for local, healthy food by creating community garden space on your property. Get started by attending a workshop like The Oasis: Gardening as Faith Communities, or make use of online resources on raised beds, organic growing, and how-to documents or find advice Join a localCommunity Garden Network or look for opportunities to partner with local schools, seniors’ residences, shelters or food banks to build community. Organize a stream, lake, or pond clean-up; join or support a local riverkeeper or watershed conservation group. Look for a cleanup event near you or for a local waterkeeper or riverkeeper group for a place to start. BC, Ontario, Labrador, New Brunswick and Alberta have waterkeeper groups, many conservation authorities have watershed protection events, and most regions have creek, river, or shoreline cleanup events.
Looking to do some landscaping this summer? When beautifying your faith community property, consider using drought-resistant, native plants. Research your agricultural zone to learn what will grow best for your conditions; avoid invasive species and instead aim for native perennials, herbs, or shrubs that improve biodiversity, attract pollinators and provide habitat and food for birds.  Share your outdoor greening stories! and let us know what your faith group is working on this summer.
Scroll down for more resources on pollinator gardens, tree planting, and more.


Planting for Pollinators: Some excellent resources and videos are available from The Pollinator Partnership (Pollinator promotion and preservation) and The Tributary Fund (Religious Leaders and Conservation Scientists) in the United States. They have videos of past webinars on faith communities creating pollinator gardens:

Pollinators 101


How to Plant a Pollinator Garden

First portion of the video is black – technical ‘bug’


Engaging Your Congregation in Pollinator Protection

(recorded – not yet posted).

“This isn’t just for faith leaders or people interested in gardens…it could serve as a great introduction to faith-based conservation efforts for secular conservation groups.  So, you know a little about pollinators and where to look for more information on how to plant a pollinator garden (”

More pollinator garden resources: (external links) has resources and links to information on planting for pollinators, species lists, agricultural maps, and other more to assist with your pollinator garden.

A pdf document “A Landowner’s Guide – Conserving Native Pollinators in Ontario” This pdf document explains pollination, pollinator species and threats to native pollinators, habitat and nesting sites for wild pollinators, and conservation steps for preserving and protecting our pollinator species. It also gives a resource list, including a list of “resource-rich plants for pollinators” – great options to include in your garden, and a list of suppliers.

Partners for Sustainable Pollination has announced mini-grants for projects supporting bee habitat! Applicants must first be certified as a “BFF” (that’s “Bee Friendly Farmer”, which includes gardeners) through their online certification process. BFFs can then apply for funds to assist with pollinator projects.

June 17 – 23 2013 is Pollinator week! Visit and for more information.


Tree planting and harvesting ideas:

  • Your congregation can contribute to your local community and the climate by planting native trees on your personal or place of worship property, or by participating in local community tree-planting events. Some regions have local initiatives for tree-planting.  Here are a few programs we have heard about:
  • The Trees Ontario 50 Million Trees Programsubsidizes about 80% of the cost of tree-planting on private land. The funding comes through the Ministry of Natural Resources as the Ontario provincial government honours its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. There is secure funding for the next five years and the program is intended to plant about 3 million trees per year until 2025. Landowners must have at least 2.5 acres (1 hectare) of plantable open land and commit to look after the trees for 15 years. The minimum cost to landowners is 15 cents per tree or $120 per acre, although this price varies with tree species and with the agency doing the actual planting. (For comparison, the cost of tree seedlings alone would be nearly $400 per acre). The delivery agent does the paperwork, buys the seedlings, plants the trees, controls vegetation, does 3 check-ups.  Thanks to Eleanor Reed, Registered Professional Forester, Lands & Forests Consulting for this information.
  • Toronto’s LEAF (Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests) program offers a subsidized backyard tree-planting service and information on native tree species; they have lists of native trees available and also offer special events relating to tree planting. The Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation works with local groups to enhance public green space.
  • Ottawa’s Hidden Harvest is a new organization which encourages the planting and harvesting of urban food-bearing trees. On the planting side, those with land are able to purchase trees for planting, and those without land are able to donate trees for planting in schools, community spaces, and housing projects. The group is also locating fruit- and nut-bearing trees and getting permission for volunteer harvesters to collect and process the food, sharing it amongst the land-owners, volunteers, and community food banks. They also teach workshops on harvesting and processing fruit and nuts. Other communities with similar organizations include Hamilton (TheHamilton Fruit Tree Project), Toronto (Not Far From The Tree) and Vancouver (Vancouver Fruit Tree Project Society).

Below: Muslims and Mennonites plant a native species and rain garden at REEP House in Kitchener.

Faith-based Gardening: Further resources we recommend

  • Interfaith Power and Light in the United States faith garden ideas at Their excellent documents “Sow a Cool Harvest – Faith garden ideas for a cool planet” and “Enjoy a Cool Harvest – The food, faith, climate connection” are available as a free download from their website (see the “Free Cool Harvest Kit” option in their order form), with companion DVDs available for sale.
    • “Sow a Cool Harvest” has information not only on raised bed gardens, worm composters, beneficial insects, heirloom seeds, earth blessings, model gardens, and organic gardening tips, but also alternative ways  to get involved if your faith community does not have property or space adequate or appropriate for building your own garden. The document is free and the companion DVD is available from IPL for a reasonable price.
    • “Enjoy a Cool Harvest” has suggestions for pot-lucks and other meals that can be shared with the earth in mind, with guidelines and ideas for considering carbon footprint, local food security, organic and meatless options. The document includes printable invitations to a “potluck and a movie” and discussion guide to accompany the DVD for “Nourish” (available separately from IPL).
  • Seeds of Diversity has a website with resources on seed saving, heritage plants, and lists of “Seedy Saturday” seed sales and exchange events.
  • Evergreen offers funding through several programs for tree-planting, gardening, and native species planting. Their website also has links and databases on native species and community gardens.
    • The Evergreen-Walmart Green Grants provide up to $10 000 for community-based restoration and stewardship initiatives in urban and urbanizing areas, including naturalization, restoration and stewardship, and community food gardens. 2013 Deadline: March 1
    • The Canon Take Root program funds up to $5000 for community-based stewardship and restoration activities that include the planting of native tree and shrub species. Deadline for 2013 intake is May 31st.



Do you know of other national, provincial, or regional funding opportunities for outdoor greening? Do you have a success story we can feature? Email