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Ontario is Crazy about Pawpaw

By Ben Porchuk, Carolinian Zone Ecologist and Pawpaw Parade Manager. Editor: Tristan Bentley

Ben Porchuk, Ecologist with Carolinian Canada had 100 Pawpaws that needed homes and he had a big idea.  He organized the 2019 Pop-up Pawpaw Parade, a first, for Canada.  It exploded with interest, attracting over 1,000 virtual participants from diverse communities who wanted to adopt and celebrate the local wild and delicious Pawpaw. The Parade was featured on CBC, the Weather Network and more.

Since the Pawpaw is a rare tree, numbers are limited, but Carolinian Canada’s network of 300 groups and 5000 volunteers is working to reverse that trend for Pawpaw and other native plants that are essential to local healthy environments for wildlife and people.

This is Ben's story:

We had a hundred trees to give away and we put out the call only a day before we hit the road. Just before we headed out at 4:38 am on  September 16, 2019, only a few of the trees were spoken for. Then our media release created a storm of interest, flooding us with inquiries.

Learn About Pawpaw
Stewardship and Care

In the first 2 days alone, we received over 700 emails and other inquiries. Since then, we have received well over a thousand more.  At this point now, we are nearing two thousand requests for people who would like to adopt Pawpaws. A tremendous thank you is extended to my neighbour Steve O'Neil who voluntarily drove 1,400 km in his Hyundai Ionic, putting up with me the entire way! In addition, our Carolinian Canada support team at home of Kathryn, Tristan, Koral, and Michelle answered the hundreds of inquiries and kept pointing me and Steve in the right direction. Also thanks to Pete, Sarah and Jarmila at WWF Canada who held a batch of Pawpaws in Toronto (they wouldn't fit in the car!) for us to pick up as we headed through Toronto.

Recipients who received a pair of trees represented:

  • private gardens in back or front yards
  • restoration projects (Brampton)
  • seed banks (Mohawk First Nations)
  • existing Carolinian Canada Landowner Leaders (larger, rural properties)
  • city gardens (City of Port Colborne)
  • school yard greening initiative (Pain Court, in Chatham-Kent)
  • complimenting an existing Pawpaw on or near your land
  • planting to help bird populations (Pelee Island Bird Observatory)
  • a part of the ecological, food security and cultural repair (many critical FN communities and FN schools like Ever Lasting Tree School in Six Nations)

While you may not have received a Pawpaw this time, we will be running another Pawpaw Parade next year and you will have the opportunity to apply again.

Qualify for Pawpaws

Find out how to participate

Learn more about In The Zone at our joint web site with WWF Canada - - and become a part of Canada's Biggest Wildlife Garden today!

Tracking your site helps Carolinian Canada and World Wildlife Fund Canada immensely. This data is used to help report on the ground activity, which helps strategically direct new actions and expand our programs where they are needed most.