The Kanata North area is best known for its thriving tech community, but it is also home to a remarkable transformation.
At the heart of this change is Lyndee Wolf, head of the Kanata North Regeneration Stewards (KNRegens), a grassroots environmental group founded in 2023. Wolf and her team of volunteers have been working passionately to rejuvenate the Morgan’s Grant hydro corridor, combating invasive species and fostering community engagement.
“Regenerative gardening builds healthy soil, uses minimally invasive practices, is organic and sustainable, but fits in with the larger ecosystem that the garden is in,” she says, envisioning a garden that not only beautifies but feeds the community.
Wolf recalls the project’s origins in 2017, starting with Hydro One’s maintenance work and the Ottawa Stewardship Council’s involvement.
“They cleared a large portion of land and got rid of invasives, ploughed all the plants under, and then planted native wildflowers and grasses,” Wolf explained. This initial effort was augmented by Algonquin College and Carleton University students, who contributed through invasive removal and soil testing. It was a huge success.
For a number of reasons, students weren’t able to continue to support the program, and the lack of progress spurred Wolf into action. She decided to pick up where the students had stopped.
Initially, Wolf built a small pollinator garden in the hydro corridor from Terry Fox to just north of BradyAvenue in Morgan’s Grant. It got so much positive reaction from the community, she decided to work on a larger 1,100 square-foot garden.
Wolf’s war against invasive species like wild parsnip and common mugwort is more than a beautification effort. These plants pose real dangers; for instance, wild parsnip’s sap can cause severe burns. By replacing them with Ontario native plants, Wolf aims to create a safe and thriving ecosystem. She emphasizes the importance of planting seedlings alongside seeds to effectively combat perennial invasive weeds and reestablish native vegetation.
As the program continues to grow, Wolf explains that the vision extends beyond mere aesthetics. She aims to restore the buzzing, vibrant summers of her youth.
“I remember when you could hear the insects and see the butterflies and the bees. What you’ll see over time in the corridor, because we’re already seeing it in the areas, even in just the small restored area, is the butterflies and the bees are coming back.”
The initiative has also sparked significant community dialogue about environmental concerns. As they walk along the corridor and see Wolf gardening, many will stop and have genuine conversations about their eco-anxiety, either due to global warming, or wildfires that are becoming more and more common each summer.
The project has a broader appeal for those who work in the tech park but might not be able to afford a home with a large green space of its own. A regenerative garden is green space for everyone, says Wolf, and adds that in her own home she has more than 300 potted plants waiting to be replanted in the corridor.
As the space winters, Wolf has been meeting with Kanata councillor Cathy Curry, to move the project forward with city approval. The gardener says Curry has been completely supportive of the program.
Wolf says anyone wanting to roll up their sleeves and help with the garden should reach out to the Ottawa Stewardship Council.
Written by Melanie Coulson, photos courtesy of the Ottawa Stewardship Council