Taking Care of Nature - Toronto Nature Stewards

Morningside Park / Highland Creek Park
Toronto's largest municipal park - Scroll Down to Bottom for More Photos

Stewarding is getting out and participating in life. It's contributing to the health and happiness of all creatures, starting in our local parks. When we steward, we take ownership of, and pride in keeping our green spaces wild and free. That's everything from litter pick ups, to removing invasives, to monitoring change, and in some places, even planting native plants -- all legally. In fact, Toronto Nature Stewards are the only organization that are permitted to steward in the city's public spaces.

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2022 Highlights 

From April - November 2022, we:
  • held 23 stewarding meetups (1-2 hours each meetup) 
  • spent 37 hours stewarding on-site
  • diverted 18 large bags of trash from the park 
  • diverted 72 large bags' worth of invasive plant parts, helping the local ecosystem thrive, and, 
  • had 19 Stewards join at least one stewarding meetup (3.9 average stewards per meetup).
  • Four Stewards from our site have signed up for 2023 Lead Steward Training
  • One Steward from our site received permission to Lead Steward at a new 2023 site!

Come out Highland Creek Park Stewards!

Join us, learn about native and invasive plants, how to identify them and remove them. Tired of just hearing about environmental issues? Roll up your sleeves, help remove dangerous plants from our park and meet amazing people while you're at it!  

Contact Me to Learn More or to Join Us for 2023

Earth Day Park Clean Up 22 April 

When: 10am-11:30am Saturday 22 April
Where: Meet at Free Parking Lot / Bike Share at Highland Creek Park, across 428 Livingston Rd N.
Look for Salima (see photo)
Dress for the weather and please bring: Gardening Gloves, Closed-Toed Shoes, Long pants (tucked into socks - for tick prevention), Filled Water Bottle, Charged Cell Phone, Family & Friends, and your team Spirit!

Weekly Open & Free Stewarding Meetups 

Dates Times: 5-7pm, starting Wednesday 26 April, open every Wednesday until November! 
Meeting Spot: Free Parking Lot / Bike Share at Highland Creek Park, across 428 Livingston Rd N.
Look for Salima (see photo) 

What to Wear & Bring:

Please Self-Screen for Covid-19 using this online tool and follow instructions based on your results.

Dress for the weather and please bring:

● Gardening Gloves, Closed-Toed Shoes
● Long pants (tucked into socks), Long sleeves, Rain jacket (or other weather appropriate clothing)
● Sun / Rain Hat
● Filled Water Bottle
● Charged Cell Phone
● Insect Repellent, Sunscreen & Hand Sanitizer
● Garbage bag / Clear Recycling Bag
● Family & Friends, and your team Spirit!

Please RSVP if You're Joining Here

I will send a confirmation email on the morning of our meetup with details of what we'll do that evening. Please check your junk folder if it's your first time. This email will include any last minute changes due to weather, etc.

Everyone is welcome! Please share and invite your friends. If you're under 16, please come with an adult. 

Please note: Washrooms are a 35-minute walk (north end of Morningside Park) or 5-min drive from our stewarding location.

Toronto Nature Stewards is committed to fostering an environment in which everyone we engage with is treated with dignity and respect, regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, age, gender, sexual identity or sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation or abilities.

Questions? Email us here

Thank you for caring about the vitality of Toronto's green spaces and the creatures and communities that enjoy them and call them home. We look forward to hearing from you and meeting you on an upcoming Wednesday!


    Salima Pirani

    2023 Lead Steward, 

    Highland Creek Park 

    Toronto Nature Stewards

     (Scroll down....)


...a Toronto with healthy, biodiverse ecosystems where plants and animals thrive. The Toronto Nature Stewards (TNS) aim to engage and educate Toronto residents in the stewardship of our local natural spaces. We work together to restore and maintain healthy natural areas for the benefit of all Toronto citizens and wildlife. With permission from the City, we remove litter and several approved invasive plant species to create welcome habitats for all creatures, keeping our natural spaces beautiful.

Land Acknowledgment

The land on which Highland Creek Park and Morningside Park are located has been the home of Indigenous people and Nations long before colonial documentation of time and is specifically the ancestral land of the Huron-Wendat, Anishinabek, Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Haudenosaunee. 

The territory of what is known today as Toronto is under the One Dish, One Spoon Wampum belt, a peace treaty between the Haudenosaunee and the Anishinabek, and is a mutual agreement between nations for sharing land and resources. The territories that encompass Toronto, are under a number of colonially-imposed Treaties including Treaty 13, and the Williams Treaties. 

There have been many Indigenous names and words associated with this place, and today, this land is still home to a multitude of Indigenous people, as well as people from around the world. We are grateful to be on this land – Chi Miigwetch, Kinanaskomitin, Nia:wen, Maarsi, Yaw^ko, Tiawenhk.

Watch this 3.5 minute video to understand more

Learn more about the damage done by the Williams Treaties here

Read the Iroquois Prayer inscribed at the commemorative stone at nearby Taber Hill here

2022 Photos

Ferzin, Penny and Jenopa strike a pose with our TNS banner

Scroll down for more pictures,
most recent at at top:

Sandra in her driveway welcoming us to her front garden. 2 Oct

Looking at one side of Sandra's back garden. 2 Oct

Sandra showing Penny how to harvest milkweed seeds. 2 Oct

Salima trying to dig a hole for Sugar Maple planting (Ghostbuster Ryan helped out!)
UTSC & Nikibii Dawadinna Giigwag Native Tree Planting Event, 24 Sept

Jenopa returning from the newly planted native tree forest (300 Native Trees & Shrubs!)
UTSC & Nikibii Dawadinna Giigwag Native Tree Planting Event, 24 Sept

Salima speaking about TNS to 400 students at UTSC 
Introduction to Environmental Science Class, 19 Sept

Taking video clips of some of our Stewards: Sandy, Jenopa and Ferzin after a 
serious DSV takedown. 12 Sep

  Before + After: John cutting back thick tangles of Dog-Strangling Vine entwined around Native Riverbank Grape Vine. Seed Pods stopped in their tracks. 7 September.

Before + After: DSV being removed to give Native Goldenrod "breathing room". 7 September.

Mark and the Giant Mugwort - at the Park entrance where we've removed DSV and Burdock.
Lots of Goldenrod coming in too. 31 August

John and Mark all smiles after a couple of hours of Nature Stewarding. 31 August.

A young deer frolics among the spoils of fruiting trees. 31 August.

One of our Biggest Threats at Highland Creek Park / Morningside Park:
DSV Seed Pods - Before and After (sourced photos)

Path leading to the Indigeneous Lodge at the Humber (super secret location!). 25 August

Resident TNS expert, Paula Davies leading a Seed Collection Walk at the Humber. 25 August.

A stalk of Riperian Ryegrass ready for Seed Collection. This represented 
less than 10% of what was growing there so it was an Honourable Harvest. 25 August.

Ferzin, Jenopa and John with bags of DSV seed pods on 10 August. We also discovered and removed Hedge Parsley growing along the edge of the path near the Oak Tree where we've been working the past few weeks.

Close up of Japanese Knotweed sprout on 12 May! JKW is a  very aggressive and dangerous invasive plant.

12 May image of young, red JKW sprouting up.

Japanese Knotweed patch on 12 May 2022 (see close ups for detail). Compare to 3 August 2022 photo below. Must be some chemical control.

Japanese Knotweed patch on 3 August (brown dead stuff). It should be shoulder-height by now. Evidence of chemical control.

Penny with her Japamese Knotweed "kill"! A few of these were spotted at the edge of the dying patch. Evidence that rhizomes are spreading underground around the periphery. 

We discovered some pretty native White Vervain on 12 May as well.

Pieter Basedow agreed to show me the beehives he keeps bordering the park at the Scarborough Golf Club 

Pieter Basedow's bee hives.

Native plant: Canada Anemone

Native plant: Virginia Creeper

Rita, Penny and Salima

Highland Creek

Grabbing Garlic Mustard by the root balls!

Tom digging out bunches of invasive Burdock

Ferzin removing DSV 

Penny and John enjoying some native black raspberries