Our Urban Food Forestry Vision

We envision urban spaces transformed into green cities with organic food and pollinator plants growing in it's many green spaces. Our cities will become more beautiful, healthy and connected.

We can realize this vision through collaboration with city council, parks and recreation, neighbourhood associations, community organizations, land owners, schools, and people like yourself. 

We are a network of organizations and individuals pursuing the vision of Grand River Food Forestry.

Nicola Thomas, PDC / Community Capacity Builder, is an avid environmentalist who saw an opportunity to encourage communities to steward the soil, grow edibles and increase pollinator corridors in under-utilized green spaces. She first created an Urban Bioshelter at her home in Kitchener and then the first Food Forest at Kitchener's Forest Heights Community Centre in 2015 followed by the Edible Trails project. Through these initial projects, interest in the idea quickly grew to include other locations, collectively now known as the Grand River Food Forestry Project

Nicola Thomas 
Grand River Food Forestry Founder, P.D.C,
Community Capacity Builder.
Nicola is an avid environmentalist who saw an opportunity to encourage communities to steward the soil, grow edibles and increase pollinator corridors in under-utilized green spaces. Through her commitment to increasing community awareness of sustainable ecological land practices, she has been recognized as one of Canada’s “Top 100 Black Women to Watch 2016”, City of Kitchener Environmental Leader 2019 and a Heart of the City National Park Delegate. Nicola has been mentored by top permaculturists from around the world and shares her knowledge internationally through educational talks, seminars, one-on-one mentoring, hands on practical workshops, consultations, board of director memberships and restorative landscape design.

Susan Koswan is a decades-long, active environmentalist (key activist in the Ontario pesticide ban for the protection of bees & other wildlife) writer, event organizer and public speaker. As the main organizer of the Waterloo Dandelion Festival for 9 years, Susan has been an eco-trail blazer and mentor to many. She has continually sought multiple strategies to influence behavior and political priorities to reduce our environmental impact. Susan is solution-driven—determined to put ideas into action to make a measurable difference. A serious change-maker!

Doug McKlusky had a successful thirty-year career in education as well as becoming one of the first environmental science specialist with the WRDSB in the late 1970’s. After retiring he has kept active on many community committee’s! He became involved with Edible Forest Heights in his current role as the vice-president of the board of directors of the Forest Heights Community Association.  As a long-term resident of Forest Heights, he is passionate about environmental development of the Waterloo Region.

Jill Bechard is a retired teacher with a life-long interest in the natural environment. She is an avid gardener and has been a member of the Kitchener Horticultural Society for many years.  As well as being involved with the Edible Forest Heights Committee, she takes care of the gardens at the Forest Heights branch of the Kitchener Public Library & foster dogs for the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides.

Jennifer Marshman is currently working on her PhD in human geography at Wilfrid Laurier University with the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems. She is involved in many regional food systems related initiatives and has done research in Ontario, Canada and Nanjing, China. Her current research / activism is centered on pollinators and how urban horticulture can help bridge the divides between people, food, and help to re-situate people in/as nature.

Kim Fellows  the outreach coordinator for Pollination Canada, a project under the umbrella of Seeds of Diversity Canada. Kim loves to speak, and plant, for the bees. Kim was our inspiration  to build fedges (food hedges). One of her favorite projects was the creation of a Pollinator Fedge at Kitchener’s Hope and Unity Community Garden, bringing gardeners and pollinators together.

Carol Maas created and maintained the Grand River Food Forestry website in collaboration with Nicola, and currently supports the food forestry initiative in all things technical. She has worked on environmental policy research and water engineering in past lives until retraining as a Spiritual Director in 2015.  She lives in downtown Kitchener with her son and hubby.

"The Value of one, the Power of Many"
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