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Evergreen Brick Works turns 10: The first year through photos

Evergreen Brick Works ribbon cutting 2010
Top image caption: Cutting the 'ribbon' to open Evergreen Brick Works on September 25, 2010.

Published on September 25, 2020

Evergreen Brick Works turns 10!

“Today marks an important date in the 30-year history of Evergreen – a day 10 years ago when a historic brick factory in Toronto’s Don Valley officially opened to the public as Evergreen Brick Works. After years of ecological restoration in the Valley, stewardship events and outdoor education programs, opening the Brick Works signified the creation of a central place for all of it to come together - and more. The remarkable success of Evergreen Brick Works shows just what can happen when you bring old buildings, with soul, to life in a magical way.”

Geoff Cape's signature

Geoff Cape
Chief Executive Officer, Evergreen

Here’s what Evergreen Brick Works looked like 10 years ago through photos.

Evergreen Brick Works opening weekend 2010 performers in bright paper mache costumes and instruments

Celebrating together. Opening day in 2010 was a bright and cheery celebration, complete with papier-mâché costumes and an array of instruments. This first official public event at the Brick Works was the first of many events that celebrate our city and each other - an important part of what makes this place special.

Evergreen Gardens in the pavilions outdoors native plants herbs in foreground, staff in background

The nursery. Evergreen Gardens (now Evergreen Garden Market) had its first home under the Pavilions. Today, it boasts locally produced artisanal products and Toronto’s widest selection of Ontario native flowers, plants and trees for gardens of all sizes—from the container on your condo countertop to your backyard in the city.

Evergreen Brick Works market 2010 outdoors

The farmers' market. An important part of the journey to transforming the historic brick factory into Evergreen Brick Works was learning through piloting ideas. It didn’t all begin on this day 10 years ago, three years prior we tested a small farmers’ market to see if it was right for the community. The initial day was a huge success, with vendors selling out within hours. Today, the farmers’ market has grown to become one of the largest in Toronto and a staple for building a resilient local food system.

Don Valley aerial summertime, trails and park visible in foreground, Brick Works and city skyline in background

Loving the land. The Brick Works site and surrounding trails are the traditional homelands and seasonal settlement for many Indigenous nations, primarily the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Anishnaabek. Prior to the industrialization of the Don River, the rich, loamy soil lent itself well to agriculture and many settlements planted The Three Sisters (corn/maize, beans and squash) along the riverbanks. Today, our urban agriculture team and Indigenous partner programs work together to continue growing food and medicine through Indigenous gardening techniques, like The Three Sisters.

Camp group outside pointing at hand drawn map of Evergreen Brick Works

Grounds for learning. The above photo captures some of the first Brick Works summer campers, inquisitively planning their exploration of the site. For summer camp in 2010, participants had the exciting opportunity to explore the site prior to the official opening, and see the daily construction changes in progress!

Planting gardens with staff

Growing good things. Evergreen’s start as a tree planting organization meant creating and improving green spaces was core to the work we do. Evergreen staff, volunteers, and partners worked together in 2010 to plant gardens throughout the site, pictured here planting in what is now Koerner Gardens. Throughout the years, the Brick Works gardens have continued to expand, demonstrating the power of urban agriculture in cities.

For our birthday, support the place you love.

Support the place you love by becoming an official Friend of Evergreen Brick Works!

Friends get access to weekly market deals, workshops, discounts, and more. Sign up by October 8 for a chance to win $100 Market Bucks.

The Brick Works has grown to become a leading example of adaptive reuse, thriving community hub and a demonstration site – but it’s the bustling marketplace, children’s songs and laughter, hands digging in the gardens, and all of you who make it special.

Interested in learning more about the making of Evergreen Brick Works? Click here to check out the original renderings that inspired the site we know today.