Our biggest and best workshop lineup EVER
Wetlands: A 'Toad-ally' Incredible Biodiversity Hotspot
Katherine Wright, Toronto Zoo Adopt-A-Pond
‘Travel’ to a wetland and learn about all the ‘toad-ally’ awesome reptiles and amphibians that live right in our own backyards! Learn how to identify frogs based on their calls, turtles by their shell, and the one venomous snake in Ontario. Become a citizen scientist in Ontario TurtleTally and Frog Watch Ontario programs. Meet a real-life zookeeper and hear about all the awesome conservation projects going on at the Toronto Zoo, and even take a ‘shell-fie’ with our amazing replica turtle, frog, and snake sets!
Katherine is the Coordinator for the Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation Programme, which designs and delivers conservation-focused research, restoration, and outreach that targets wetland species and their habitats. Katherine has worked with a variety of wildlife including captive breeding and release for endangered ferrets and marmots, giant pandas, and studying humpback dolphins for her Master’s. She is excited to now be conserving wetlands and sharing that knowledge with the public.
Alone Across Canada's Arctic
Named one of the country's greatest living explorers, Adam Shoalts is a professional adventurer, explorer, and author of the #1 national bestseller Alone Against the North and A History of Canada in 10 Maps. In 2017, he completed a nearly 4,000 km solo journey across Canada's Arctic, which he'll discuss on stage at the Go Grow Wild Expo to encourage everyone to explore more of Canada's wild places.
Creating a Native Foraging Sanctuary
Shantree Kacera, The Living Centre
Imagine a garden filled with native edible and medicinal plants that support a natural habitat for wildlife, pollinators and humans alike. We can all create backyard sanctuaries that will sustain us and support all life; there are hundreds of plants that fit into this range. Many of these delicious native foods or essential local medicine have either been forgotten or are now considered rare. We have a choice and can bring them back into the spotlight, by being ecosystem participants. Through a process of ecological forest garden design we can create beautiful perennial polyculture sanctuaries.
Shantree is the founder and co-director of The Living Centre an Eco-Spiritual Education Sanctuary, established in 1983, located outside of London, ON. in the heart of Carolinian Canada. He received his doctorate in Nutritional Medicine and Herbalism in the 70’s, been given the ‘Honouring our Elders’ awarded by the Canadian Council of Herbalist Associations for offering outstanding contributions to the field of herbalism. Author of numerous books, courses and mentorships related to health, nutrition, herbalism and ecological design forest gardening with wild and native plants. He has been working his craft as an herbalist on the medicinal and nutritional properties of herbs and trees of this bioregion. His primary focus these days are on research, demonstration and education of many rare and endangered native plant species. He is working in a close collaborative way with Carolinian Canada Coalition, in understanding and helping protect these precious plants.
Showcasing beautiful gardens that are drought-tolerant and locally adapted to conditions, Lorraine Johnson will provide tips on creating resilient landscapes that are "climate-smart" and conserve resources.
Lorraine Johnson is the author of many books on gardening with native plants, urban agriculture, and environmental issues. The third edition of her classic 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants for Canadian Gardens was recently released. She is the editor of The Natural Treasures of Carolinian Canada. A former president of the North American Native Plant Society, Lorraine has long been involved with advocacy for native plant landscaping, urban agriculture, urban tree planting and protection, and conservation of species and spaces.
Urban Agro-forestry: the Food Forest City
Gabor Sass, Friends of Urban Agriculture London
Canadian cities have lots of unused but potentially very productive open spaces including grass covered backyards, boulevards and parks. Planting some of these spaces with polycultures of fruit and nut bearing perennials or food forests could produce unexpected bounty for both humans and wildlife. Using examples from around the world and locally, this workshop will investigate how food forests help in building a more sustainable and resilient local food system.
Dr. Gabor Sass is an ecosystem scientist and community organizer who has worked tirelessly in moving London’s environment and sustainability agenda forward. Gabor is a part-time Assistant Professor at Western University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in ecosystem health, environmental science and sustainability, GIS, and biogeography. He is founder of Sassafras Consulting, an environmental assessment company which advises on hydrology, ecology and related sustainability problems of urban, agricultural and boreal landscapes across Canada. Gabor is also a member of the Advisory Committee on Environment at the City of London through which he co-organized conferences related to pollinator health, urban agriculture and resilient cities. He is a passionate advocate and leader in urban agriculture, instrumental in establishing Friends of Urban Agriculture London as well as planting two community food forests.
Blue is the new green
The Water Brothers
Join brothers Alex & Tyler Mifflin, the filmmakers behind the award-winning documentary TV series The Water Brothers as they discuss their adventures across the globe uncovering some of the most important water stories and solutions of our time, and learn how we can better harmonize our relationship with our planet by thinking blue.
Alex and Tyler Mifflin are the creators & hosts of the award winning television series, The Water Brothers, that takes them on adventures around the world exploring the most critical water challenges we face in the world today.
Learn About Stand Up Paddleboarding
Drew Climie, LondonSUP
Curious about Stand Up Paddleboarding? Now is your change to come and learn from the experts. In this presentation we will be discussing Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) equipment including board types, board construction, and the equipment you need to keep you safe. Following this we will be conducting an in pool skills demonstration that will include standing, paddling forward, and maneuvering your board. Bring your questions and come out to see why SUP is one of the fastest growing water sports!
After many years of working and training in the technology industry, Drew left to peruse his passion for getting outside and enjoying the water. Putting years of training experience to work, Drew opened up LondonSUP, the only full service Stand Up Paddleboard Shop in London Ontario. LondonSUP offers a full suite of training programs including SUP Intro Classes, Paddle Canada Beginner and Advanced SUP Lessons, SUPYoga, and PaddleFit Circuit training. Always wanting to find and do something new, Drew continually works to expand on LondonSUP’s ever growing list of partners to bring new activities and places to paddle to our ever growing paddling community. Although LondonSUP started with Paddle boarding it now caters to multiple water sports including kayaking, adaptive paddling, and Dragon Boating. If it takes place on the water, chances are Drew is keen to give it a go!
Birds of Prey
James Cowan, Canadian Raptor Conservancy
An entertaining and educational presentation with live, free-flying birds of prey!
Who’s Hiding in the Garden?
Tara Carpenter, Grand River Rafting & Five Oaks Centre
Join Tara Carpenter from GROWE and Vanessa Stewart from Vanessa’s Bees in our "Outdoor Classroom" to discover the beauty of our local garden pollinators! Children will explore the wonders of nature as we find Mother Nature's hidden treasures. After our fun and educational play in the garden we will create a nature-based craft inspired by our local pollinators. Mentoring our children to get outside is one of the single most important things we can do as parents. This workshop aims to do just that by inspire families to connect with nature while we explore the space.
Tara Carpenter has had a love of nature and the outdoors from an early age, thanks to growing up on a Norfolk County farm. Now being a mother to a very active, creative, and outdoor loving 7 year old has inspired Tara to encourage other parents and their families to get outdoors. She is a graduate of the AEIL Diploma program at Fanshawe College. During this time she received honors, multiple awards showcasing her leadership achievements and passion for environmental stewardship as well as numerous certifications. Tara also is the Chair of the Education Committee for the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation, Outdoor Educator at Whistling Gardens, Columnist for Live Small Town Magazine, River Guide with Grand River Rafting and Executive Director of Grand River Outdoor Wilderness Education. “My dream with GROWE is to instill in others the love, passion and respect I possess for nature. I believe that the benefits of engaging our youth in the great outdoors are immeasurable.
Creating an Ultralight Canoe from Local Ash and Cherry
Luiza Moczarski, Backcountry Custom Canoes
Paddling is one of the most tranquil experiences in life and the perfect canoe is fundamental. Join us, as Backcountry Custom Canoes discusses the creation of an ultra-light canoe using Ontario Ash sourced from a local woodland damaged by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. This workshop will reveal the secrets of building a durable skin-on-frame canoe, while reflect on the grace of paddling it in the Carolinian Life Zone and the rest of Ontario.
Luiza attributes her love of nature to the countless hiking and camping trips she was fortunate enough to have taken with her family while growing up. With a degree in Fine Arts from Western University, her perspective on wilderness and her passion for adventure has led her to some of the most beautiful places in Canada, and has allowed her to discover her love of fly fishing and backcountry canoe tripping. She is one of the few people to catch all six species of trout in Ontario, including the elusive Aurora trout; the worlds rarest trout species. As an avid nature enthusiast she has made it her mission to encourage her three children to explore the outdoors, in the hopes that it will deepen their respect for nature and bring them as much pleasure as it has brought her.
Get Into Birding
Jody Allair, Bird Studies Canada
Birds are beautiful, interesting and found everywhere. Watching birds can provide years of enjoyment, inspiration and even lead to a focus on conserving our natural world. Join Jody Allair for a presentation on the what, where, why and how's of Birdwatching. But be warned, once you start watching birds, it's almost impossible to stop! Session sponsored by Southwest Ontario Tourism
Jody is the National Conservation Outreach Manager for Bird Studies Canada. Jody has written numerous articles on birds, birding and connecting with nature and delivers a variety of education and outreach programs to audiences across Canada.
Michael Lothrop, Grand River Rafting
I demonstrate the ancient art of flintknapping. Making stone tools by chipping them into shape. I speak about human evolution and how primitive skills have helped make us what we are today while I demonstrate. I also demonstrate primitive fire making using the hand drill friction fire technique. I will also show how ancient people made string and fibres from plants.
My name is Mike Lothrop and I teach primitive skills and survival skills. I spend a great deal of time out in the woods camping, canoeing and hiking. I have been interested in these skills since I was a little kid. I got interested in learning how to flint knap arrowheads and other stone tools about 20 years ago and have been doing it ever since! This has branched out into many other primitive skills. I am now involved in: Flintknapping, fire by friction, cordage, basketry, stone carving, green woodworking, bow making, edible/medicinal plants, tree identification, basic tracking, fletching, atlatl/dart manufacture, leather work and more! I work professionally as a dispatcher for J&R Hall Transport. Great place to work!
Forest Therapy; The Mind, Body, and Spirit Medicine of the Forest
Ben Porchuk, Global Institute of Forest Therapy
Forest Bathing or Therapy was developed in Japan in the early 1980s as a seminal study demonstrated that those who spent more time in nature spent less time in hospitals. The ensuing 40 + years of nature connection and health research studies across the world have shown dramatic positive impacts resulting from guiding people in nature, including boosted immunity, lowered blood pressure, improved moods and reduced anxiety. Ben Porchuk is Canada’s first certified Forest Therapy Guide (2015). He is now a guide trainer and recently co-founded an international organization, “G.I.F.T.” – the Global Institute of Forest Therapy.
Learn more at www.GIFToftheForest.com. Ben’s talk explains the process and functionality of a forest therapy walk, where to find a professionally guided walk, how to best lead yourself in nature without training, and how to become a certified Forest Therapy Guide in Canada. “Guided by Nature, We Heal.”
Ben grew up in rural Ontario on a quarter horse farm. Pigeons, sports, and exploring the meandering creek were his childhood passions. Spending most of his career as a wildlife researcher, he earned a Masters degree for his work studying the ecology and conservation of the endangered Blue Racer. Ben lived for 12 years off the grid, leading The Wilds of Pelee Island as Executive Director. Later, Ben co-lead Traditional Medicinal Native Plant inventories and plant meditations with First Nations. After having taken several courses such as Reiki, Access Consciousness, Yoga teacher training, Ben became Canada's first certified Forest Therapy Guide. Ben lead over a hundred walks in his first few years as a guide and trainer. Along the journey Ben met many Forest Therapy Guides and Trainers, and was inspired to co-create an ethical, non-profit organization for training Forest Therapy Guides.
Bats - The Real Stars of the Night
Toby Thorne, Toronto Zoo
Bats are a fascinating, yet often overlooked, part of our natural ecosystem. In this talk we will learn some surprising facts about bats, and dispel some of the myths and fears that surround them. We will also talk about the bats of Ontario, how they are at risk and what we can do to help them. Along with a picture packed presentation, there will be bat related children's crafts and games.
Toby caught his first bat at the age of 11 and has never looked back. He spent his teenage years chasing and learning about bats in the UK before moving to Ontario for a master's researching bats with renowned bat expert Dr. Brock Fenton. Since completing his master’s he has continued to work with bats in Ontario, most recently working on the Native Bat Conservation Program at the Toronto Zoo
Food is Food- How to prevent your food from becoming waste
Paul van der Werf, 2cg
Did you know that about 35% of what goes in London's household garbage bags is food and that this costs each London household $450-$600 per year? Come and learn about the monetary, environmental and social impacts of this food waste and more importantly what you can do about it. An overview of simple solutions that you can use in your household will be presented.
For the last 25 years Paul van der Werf has been managing food after it has become waste through his environmental consulting company 2cg (2 composting guys). Through PhD research at Western University he now focuses much of his energies on preventing food from becoming waste.
Creating Butterfly & Pollinator Habitat
Andalyne Tofflemire, Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory
How can each of us make a difference by helping pollinators? It only takes a few steps to create a pollinator-friendly space in your yard, garden or community to make a significant difference. Come for a colourful presentation that will introduce you to the world of pollinators and how to attract them to your yard. Participants will be able to take home a "seed bomb" to start introducing native wildflower seeds to their yards.
Andalyne Tofflemire has been proud to be the Conservatory Manager & Naturalist at Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory for the past 7 years. She loves to share her passion for insects and pollinators through guided walks, presentations, and public events at the Conservatory as well as local nature clubs and festivals. The last few summers she's been hosting evening moth-ing events to introduce people to the mysterious world of moths!
Let's Protect Pollinators! Butterfly House Building Workshop
Vanessa Stewart, Vanessa's Bees
Bring your family over to the Children's Play Space where you will meet Vanessa to learn about the importance of pollinators and what you can do at home in your garden to help protect them. Build a Butterfly House with your family and take it home to install in your garden!
Vanessa Stewart is a beekeeper and outdoor guide from Norfolk County. She is the owner of Vanessa’s Bees a beekeeping business that provides interpretive hive tours introducing the unique behaviours of honey bees with hands-on beekeeping experience. Vanessa promotes the conservation of all pollinating species through rearing butterflies and bees, planting native gardens, contributing to citizen science, and teaching schools, groups, and individuals of their importance through outdoor programming.
Greening Your Home
Stefanie Coleman-Dias, London Home Builders' Association
Whether you are looking to buy a new home, or renovate your existing one, there are many practical steps you can take that will reduce your impact on the environment. As a bonus, many of these will also cut your monthly costs!
Since 2005, Stefanie Coleman Dias has been a renovation contractor working in London and surrounding areas. She holds numerous certifications for energy efficiency in housing and has applied these learnings to the renovation projects she has completed for homeowners. She is passionate about the industry and its importance to the wellbeing of homeowners and their families. She seeks ways for continual improvement in her own work and the industry as a whole, and believes raising the bar of professionalism will have a positive impact on encouraging people to consider our industry as a viable career choice. Stefanie is currently undertaking a new opportunity with adding custom homes to her business, Pretty Smart Homes. Stefanie currently serves as 1st Vice President of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association.
Protecting our watersheds by reducing single use plastics
Kara Rijnen, Jordan Hawkswell, and Heenal Rajani, Zero Waste Forst City & London Environment Network
A 2016 study found that 22 million tons of plastic enters the Great Lakes each year. If current trends continue, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the world’s oceans (by weight) than fish. We each have a choice about what we purchase and how it is packaged. A movement is growing in London of individuals and organizations who are choosing to drastically reduce their own use of packaging and to raise awareness of the positive impact that living a zero waste lifestyle can have. Living package-free seems daunting, and sometimes it’s not easy - some food is hard to find without packaging! In this workshop we will share the stories of own journeys to living package free. Our focus will be on practical solutions to help participants to make shifts - however small - in their own purchasing practices. We will also touch on how plastics negatively affect the health of our waterways, aquatic wildlife and the humans that live near them. What do I say if a store refuses to sell me something in my own container? Which stores are most friendly to a package free lifestyle? What items are hard to find without packaging, and where can I find them? How can I save packaging (and money!) by making certain things at home instead of buying them packaged? How is wildlife impacted by my packaging choices? All these questions and more will be covered during the workshop.
Kara Rijnen is a mom of three and the founder of packagefree.ca. She started packagefree.ca to share her journey towards living without packaging hoping to inspire others to rethink their purchases and the excess packaging that enters their homes. ** Heenal Rajani founded an international nonprofit which has built over 120 schools from plastic bottles and other plastic waste. He is a community activist and a Board member of the London Environment Network. ** Jordan Hawkswell is the founder of Zero Waste Forest City, a community organization that aims to provide resources, connections and community events to reduce waste and clean up the waste that is present in London and South-Western Ontario.