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The Great Paw Paw Parade Begins | 2019

The 2019 PawPaw Parade is over!

Thanks to everyone who participated! All of the PawPaws have gone to good homes. Stay tuned for future native plant adoption opportunities (sign up for Carolinian Canada EcoNews)

Over 100 orphaned seedlings of one of the rarest trees in Canada, the Paw Paw, are in desperate need of adoption. Together, rural landowners and urban gardeners across southwestern Ontario are stepping in to help, so the ‘Paw Paw Parade’ (Sept. 16 and 17) can take to the road to bring the seedlings to loving homes.

“This region, the Carolinian Zone of southern Ontario, is a hotspot for biodiversity in Canada but wild species are disappearing fast. It’s like Canada’s Amazon,” according to Ben Porchuk, ecologist with Carolinian Canada, an environmental charity that is organizing the Parade.

Orphaned by the loss of habitat and climate change, Paw Paw is one of 1,500 native plants and 500 rare species in the Carolinian Zone. Its natural home, the Carolinian woodlands, has faced decades of devastation.

Paw Paw Flower.  Photo: Porchuk
Paw Paw tree in autumn colours.  Photo: Natvik

“The good news is that thousands of landowners want to help! It’s an opportunity for people-power to reverse the trend of wildlife loss.” Paw Paw is ‘baby food’ for the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly, playing a critical part of their life cycle. So participating landowners and gardeners will be helping more than just one wild species.

The Parade will showcase how easy it is to help local wildlife at home. Powered by electricity, it will travel over 1,200 km from Toronto to Windsor, via Niagara Falls, Long Point, London, Pinery Provincial Park, Windsor, and Pelee Island. Participants include farmers, urban gardeners, businesses, municipalities, First Nations, schools, and community groups. With the aid of volunteers, Porchuk will help them find the right spots on their land for these special trees. While many of the trees are going to registered landowners, there will be some given away en route.

The Paw Paw project is part of the group’s newest challenge to grow Canada’s Biggest Wildlife Garden “In the Zone” where it is needed the most. The In the Zone program, in partnership with WWF-Canada, currently connects 4,000+ people growing 17,000+ native plants to save wildlife, protect water and get climate-smart at home. The partners are challenging community groups and workplaces to help connect 15,000 sites for healthy habitat by 2022.

Wildlife are not the only ones who love Paw Paw. A current trend among smart foragers (people who eat native plants) is growing them at home to save wild populations and help the species thrive. Paw Paw is one of the tastiest fruits on the planet, with hints of mango, banana, and custard; and it is high in many minerals, nutrients and antioxidants. It is a small tree and each participating landowner will get two, since they need cross-pollination to produce fruit.

Ready to eat! Photo: Natvik

Landowners, volunteers and supporters can join the action through and look for the In the Zone tag when purchasing plants.

“Each property has a unique role to play is saving local wildlife, from butterflies to owls. Native plants that are essential for local wildlife to survive can be integrated with existing gardens and other landowner goals. We have a large network of inspired landowners and gardeners who are taking action and we are excited to see how Canada’s Biggest Wildlife Garden takes shape!”

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Media inquiries / pictures available:

Ben Porchuk, Carolinian Zone Ecologist

Kathryn McLeod, Marketing and Communications Specialist

Contact Information is Available Here

In the Zone


A Big Picture Strategy

The Carolinian Zone is the most highly threatened ecological region of Canada. Local habitat is home for one third of Canada’s rare wildlife, protects drinking water for 11 million people, is the backbone of healthy communities for 25% of Canadians and holds the key to a green future for resilient, climate-smart landscapes.

In the Carolinian Zone we need to double our habitat to reach minimum federal standards for healthy landscapes that protect air, water and soil. On a landscape that is 95% private and 85% cleared we must enage millions of people in growing healthy habitat across cultural landscapes. We can only do this by aligning and accelerating the efforts of hundreds of rural and urban communities.

Growing a Green future

Carolinian Canada Coalition aims to historically reverse habitat loss in the zone through coordinated action with 300+ leading groups. Our network is one of the largest and longest-running ecosystem recovery initiatives in Canada working in harmony with local communities. The Coalition is supported by donations, memberships and grants from government, corporate and private sources. We advance shared goals through multi-partner platforms.

Communities, landowners and gardeners can ‘grow wild’ through these multi-partner platforms:

  • In the Zone, in partnership with World Wildlife Fund Canada helps gardeners and landowners grow healthy, climate-smart landscapes, everywhere
  • Go Wild Grow Wild – a green expo, workshops and on-line Wild Guide connecting thousands with a love of nature
  • Big Picture Collaborative – implementing a shared vision for a green future by connecting sectors to reverse a centuries-old trend of habitat loss
  • Habitat Investment Pilots – a Conservation Impact Bond connecting community, investment, habitat, landowner and impact leaders to accelerate the growth of healthy landscapes

About Carolinian Canada Coalition
Carolinian Canada is a network of leaders growing healthy landscapes for a green future with support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and others who care about healthy landscapes. Upcoming community workshops are supported by TD Friends of the Environment.

About World Wildlife Fund Canada
WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit

About Ben Porchuk
Porchuk is a specialist and passionate about local nature solutions on every kind of property. He works closely with a network of dedicated Landowner Leaders to grow high-quality habitat on farms and other sites, in harmony with local land uses. He leads by example; his urban home and garden consists of more than 200 species of native plants (including seven Paw Paw trees planted over the past 12 years), which has been a calling card, attracting hundreds of species of wildlife back to his yard in the city.

Take the In The Zone Challenge!

Your garden can grow a green future for wildlife and people in your neighbourhood. Get Healthy Garden Points, join our community, explore nature, share your knowledge, help wildlife, and get climate-smart. Count your garden in today and start BEFORE you plant!

Visit Canada's Biggest Wildlife Garden