Trees From Seeds

Green Thumbs has been growing urban trees from seed since 2017 has engaged thousands of school children, who have planted hundreds of successful seedlings. The species we grow most is the Kentucky Coffee Tree for its ease of germination. Its Anishaabemowin name is Biizhou-aatig, or Big Cat Tree. One theory is that the name comes from the pod which looks like a big cat claw! It’s one of the more successful urban native trees.

Other trees we planted from seed include PawPaw, the native fruiting tree that will produce fruit that “tastes like a cross between banana and mango”! We planted Cedar/Nookomis Giizhik. Eric Davies, our tree-seed friend from University of Toronto, helped us plant acorns from mature Toronto trees, and now we have many Red, White and Bur Oak seedlings to care for, known as Mitigomizh in Anishnaabemowin.

Ohemaa Boateng, our Program Manager, developed an online program so that students learning from home in 2020/21 could plant the seeds and grow trees. A popular program because teachers needed hands-on activities for at home learning. Kits were picked up curbside, and distributed to  students! The pandemic has shown the importance of both outdoor and hands-on learning. As a result the Toronto District School Board produced new resources for school-ground outdoor education.

Trees provide shade and oxygen to urban environment. Many fail because they are in the wrong place, and some are simply reaching the end of their lives. Some are victims of poor maintenance, pests or disease. The City and school board require trees to be a certain maturity to be planted. Only plants grown from seed have a wider set of genes, making them more pest or disease-resistant. The City and school board require trees to be school board require trees to be a certain maturity to be planted. So they need nursery care for a few years to meet size requirements.

We have tree nurseries in three partner schools where we are planting a mix of tree species. But we have more tree seedlings than space and  need good homes for them, So please contact us if you are able to provide a good location and the care they require. Email, “Trees” in subject line.

Green Thumbs Growing Kids (GTGK) is a local charity actively creating and managing school food gardens in order to connect children to food and their environment. Gardens at Sprucecourt Jr. PS, Winchester Jr. & Sr. PS and Rose Avenue PS are managed by Green Thumbs. No funding is received from the Toronto District School Board so GTGK depends on funding from members of the community and friends of the gardens. Look us up and learn more about what we do. Please support our work by donating at

Special thanks to the City of Toronto Urban Forestry Division and Eric Davies of Big Tree.≠≠

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