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Volunteers come out to Plant on a Slant


by Louis Tam

The rest of the campus may have spent the midday hours enjoying their lunches yesterday, but for a small band of students and staff, making the university a greener place was a far more worthy cause.

A group of volunteers assembled on Wednesday Oct. 3 to take part in Plant on a Slant, an event aimed at restoring plant life on the slope and in the valley behind the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. Organized in partnership with Evergreen – a nonprofit environmental group – the event drew approximately 15 students, staff and Evergreen representatives who planted trees and shrubbery in various areas behind the university.

“I’ve never really planted trees before, so I wanted to give it a try,” said Anita Liang, a first-year concurrent education student who volunteered at the planting.

In addition to helping out the environment, Liang said that participating in Plant on a Slant also brought her one step closer to completing the U of T passport, a program which encourages first-year students to participate in extracurricular activities on campus.

For Paul Abell, Evergreen’s program coordinator, the event was more than just than just a way of helping out the environment. It was also a way of bringing the campus community closer together.

“We wanted to get the community, faculty, students and staff involved together,” said Abell. “It’s important for all of us to take care of the property’s environmental health together.”

White Spruce, Basswood and Eastern Red Cedar trees were among the wide assortment of plants the volunteers brought into the valley. Some of the areas designated for planting were aimed at restoring greenery that was lost years ago.

According to Rob Sarson, grounds supervisor at U of T Scarborough, some of the vegetation in the area behind the university was cleared away in previous years to make room for a gazebo. During Plant on a Slant, volunteers were busy returning trees and shrubbery to the site where the gazebo has since been torn down.

In other areas, the introduction of new plant life was to help stabilize the soil from erosion. In particular, the banks of Highland Creek -- which runs behind the campus -- have been subject to erosion over the years, due mainly to flash flooding when sewers empty into the creek during heavy rainfall.

Adding plants to areas around the creek, Abell says, “prevents the effects of erosion by stabilizing the river bank.”

“If you don’t have the (plant) roots in the soil,” he said. “The banks are going to keep eroding more and more.”

Plant on a Slant was part of the Green the Campus campaign, a series of events being organized in a partnership between Evergreen and the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Events in previous months have included the Green the Entrance event in May, when volunteers planted wildflowers and shrubbery near the campus’ main entrance. Also in May, the Bring Nature to Residence event saw the planting of trees and woodland wildflowers near several residence halls.

The next scheduled Green the Campus event is Hickory Sticks, which will take place on Thursday October 11 starting at 12 noon. Volunteers will be planting trees and shrubs along the Ring Road behind the Hickory Hall residence.

Volunteers can sign up for Green the Campus events on the intranet. Further details on these events can be found on the campus web site at More information about Evergreen can be found at

Louis Tam is a fourth-year student in the journalism program offered jointly by U of T Scarborough and Centennial College.



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