2018 Environmental Recognition Award Recipients 

Brantford Green Environmental Recognition Award Recipients 2018


1. Environmental Volunteer – Andy Tonkin

Environmental Volunteer recognizes those involved in environmental initiatives as a volunteer. This would apply to tree planting, river clean ups, awareness raising, and advocacy through an organization, non -profit or institution. These are unpaid volunteer hours for green/environmental actions and projects.

Past recipients include: Reuben DeBoer who was the founding coordinator of the EcoHawks, a student environmental committee on the Brantford Laurier campus and Tracey Bucci, founder and President of Grand River Environmental Group which will be organizing the 17th annual Grand River Environmental Festival and cleanup coming up on May 12th.

Andy is one of the founders of community gardening in Brantford. Starting in 2009, he championed the first community garden at Birkett Lane and Mohawk Street on land, the use of which was donated by his family. Since then, Andy has been very active on the leadership team for community gardens (now known as Equal Ground Community Gardens). His knowledge and love of teaching has encouraged many to try their hand at vegetable gardening for the first time, and advancing the knowledge of more experienced gardeners.

Equal Ground Community Gardens has grown to 33 sites (11 parks) of various sizes across Brantford, including Earl Haig in 2017 with an awesome 72 plots, and 4 more sites planned this year. Andy continues to volunteer hundreds of hours every year with both a hands on work and also a providing an invaluable leadership role in promoting community gardening within the City, recruiting and coordinating volunteer gardeners, maintaining/expanding existing gardens and facilitating the development of new garden locations in conjunction with City staff.

The seed that Andy planted in 2009 and nurtured ever since has grown into partnerships with schools like Pauline Johnson which grows 2000 starter plants in its greenhouses, the Millennial Network Group which provides volunteers and manages the Earl Haig garden, and the inspired action by our young champions from Major Ballachey growing ready for their new community garden this spring. In 2017, it is estimated that the EGCG donated over 500 lbs of fresh vegetables and herbs to the food bank in addition to providing fresh produce for the local families that grew them.

Andy's inaugural and continuing efforts as a champion of Brantford's community gardens have directly increased the stainability of our community and dramatically increased our food security by promoting the cultivation of local, healthy and affordable food within Brantford. The fruits of his volunteer commitments provide healthy and nutritious food for people in the community, including many who might not otherwise have access to it, foster civic engagement and pride, and share fundamental knowledge about where our food comes from and how to grow it in an increasingly urbanized environment.

2. Green Non-Profit - Laurier EcoHawks

Green Non-profit in Brantford recognizes a government agency, institution or non-profit organization for its contribution to maintaining a healthy environment. This is typically where educational and healthcare projects may apply. Examples include community gardens, community clean ups, initiatives which preserve and/or restore local ecosystems and wildlife habitats, and activism to establish and sustain protected areas. This also includes examples of non-profits that are taking the lead in improving the environmental sustainability of their products/services, administrative policies, programs and/or operations.

Past Recipients include: Pauline Johnson Collegiate for their ongoing efforts in cleaning/restoring the natural and recognition as a Gold certified Eco School, Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford Campus for their commitment to “high performance green buildings” and attaining LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications, and the Grand River Community Health Centre for their support of community gardens, waste reduction, waste diversion, and composting programs among other environmental campaigns.

The EcoHawks is an enthusiastic team of undergraduate students whose purpose is to raise awareness of environmental issues, advocate better sustainability practices and the development of sustainable living habits of students, and work towards reducing the ecological footprint of the Laurier campus. The EcoHawks mission is to see all students become advocates of a healthy environment and be the change they want to see in the world.

The EcoHawks have always been a strong voice for waste reduction, recycling, and diversion. Their pilot organics waste diversion program years ago has lead to Laurier now having a formalized organic waste diversion program using a Molok. In addition, the EcoHawks host swap events, sustainable fashion events which educate students on recycling clothing and the impacts of fast fashion. Last fall (2017), the EcoHawks Brantford hosted an inaugural shoreline cleanup along the Grand River in partnership with the WWF. This year the annual event will expand to include the Waterloo campus.

The EcoHawks many initiatives to reduce waste and divert waste from landfill reduces the impact on the community resources, and the city landfill. In particular, during move out and move out weeks, the EcoHawks actively advocate for proper disposal (recycling) of cardboard, as well as promoting what to with less conventional items like textbooks, clothing, and e-waste. These efforts also help keep curbsides and communities cleaner during these challenging times.

The EcoHawks maintain a continuous, peer to peer presence in common areas where students make their purchasing decisions, in order to help shape those decisions and form new habits. The Lug-a-mug campaign was designed to reduce the use of single use coffee mugs which makes up a significant portion of the Laurier campus waste stream. The EcoHawks waste reduction and diversion efforts helped Laurier achieve an awesome diversion rate of 60% of the remaining waste from landfill (by comparison, the City’s 2016 diversion rate was 35.3%)

Perhaps the most important positive impact that the EcoHawks have is raising awareness and make sustainability a priority in student decision making. The continuous presence of the EcoHawks on campus and the effectiveness of the peer to peer relationship cuts through the multitude of communications that students receive every day, instilling sustainability as a priority and helping students to not just make different choices, but to shape more sustainable living habits which will last a lifetime.

3. Young Environmental Champions - Major Ballachey School Primary Division (Grades 1, 1/2, 2, 3)

Young Environmental Champion – Elementary Age recognizes children aged 6 to 13 years who demonstrate environmental leadership and impact. Examples of projects eligible for this award include those which naturalize school grounds, reduce waste, recycle, conserve energy, protect wildlife, fundraise, and educate others.

Past Recipients include: King George Public School Green Team and the Bellview Public School Green Team, both of which have been recognized for their incredible commitment to improving energy efficiency, waste reduction, and waste diversion in their schools

This year Brantford recognizes the primary division at Major Ballachey School which championed a seedling starter project to grow vegetables from seed for an upcoming community garden, to be housed at the school in the spring of 2018, using recycled 500 ml plastic water bottles. The Grade 3s in particular, in Ms. Moir's classroom, have taken the responsibility of overseeing the project, of assisting students in the younger grades, and of caring for the seedlings as they have grown. With their leadership, the seedling starter project has taken root and literally blossomed in a matter of only a few weeks.

The water bottle seedling starters are self-watering, and are much more efficient regarding water usage than traditional agricultural methods. They 500 ml water bottles are cut in half, with the upper half turned upside-down, filled with soil, seed, and string wick, and placed back in the lower water bottle half, which acts as the water reservoir. The string wicks the water up into the soil, as required by the natural needs of the plant, which prevents overwatering.

The students have reduced their environmental footprint by repurposing water bottles found in their home and educational community, and reusing them in an environmentally friendly way. The students collected over 200 water bottles, by either collecting them throughout the school or bringing them from home, and reused them in a variety of learning related activities, including (but not limited to) the seedling starter project. This gave the bottles a second purpose, and diverted them from landfill.

Their seedling starters will form the basis for the first crop of vegetables to be planted in the Major Ballachey Community Garden project this coming spring. These students, among others in their school, will also provide the majority of the physical and emotional effort required for building and maintaining the community garden once it is initiated and underway.

The engagement and outreach of this particular group of students has already had a noticeable impact within the walls of the school. However, their passion for environment extends well beyond their classroom walls. The leadership shown by the young environmental champions of Major Ballachey school are furthering Brantford’s efforts to reduce waste, strengthen our food security, and as the community garden grows, will continue to have an continuing positive impact on community health, wellness, interconnectivity, and environmental awareness and activism in the broader community.

4. Wessuc Inc. – Green Business

Green Business in Brantford honours a business for its focus on the green/environmental health of Brantford. The Green Business award recognizes businesses for excellence in green practices, strategies and products that benefit the city of Brantford. Examples of businesses eligible for this award include those that are taking the lead in improving the environmental sustainability of their products/services, business practices, programs and/or operations. Of particular focus in this award is sustainable innovation.

Past recipients include: Hematite Manufacturing, an industry leader in “closed loop manufacturing”, diverting over 20 tonnes of industrial waste from landfill annually and award winning clean tech innovator Green Mantra Technologies produces high-value synthetic polymer additives, waxes, and other chemicals from recycled waste plastics, diverting more than 12 tonnes of waste from landfill annually.

This year Brantford recognizes another industrial innovation leader in waste diversion whose slogan is “Turning Waste into Value”. Wessuc utilizes energy efficient technology to dewater the solid material from wastewater treatment plants. Rather than sending the remaining biosolids to landfill, Wessuc then turns the product into a fertilizer replacement solution, reducing agricultural demand for energy intensive fertilizer. Using biosolids as a source of fertilizer is very a sustainable way to re-purpose this waste stream. Macronutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous are essential for crop growth, and biosolids have both. Sources of nitrogen and phosphorous are not infinite. However, as long as we have people and cities, we will have biosolids and therefore, a fertilizer source. Wessuc's larnd application program helps to contribute to this sustainable way for farmer's to provide their crops with the nutrients they need.

Wessuc has also implemented new technology on the biosolids application side of their operation, enabling them to spread the material with great precision. Using very precise mapping technology, they can show farmers exactly how much material, what kind of material and where the material went on their field in order to adjust their fertilizer rates to only use what the crop needs as a top up to the biosolids application. By helping with nutrient management in this way, Wessuc helps farmers to reduce excessive fertilizer, manure, or biosolids applications in the fields surrounding Brantford. Wessuc also directly helps protect Brantford's drinking water by ensuring that all surface water has appropriate setbacks when applying biosolids on farmer's fields.

Wessuc always sponsors local farming groups, in particular the Brant Soil and Crop Improvement Association. This group promotes the responsible management of soil, water, air and crops through development and communication of innovative farming practices. Wessuc staff also help volunteer at events for BSCIA, help run research projects and field trials and have staff on the Board of Directors.

In addition to farm and agricultural solutions, Wessuc is also instrumental in developing innovative and alternative uses for industrial waste streams. For example, Wessuc also hauls sugar water from the Ferrero plant. Rather than simply finding a disposal solution, Wessuc has developed alternative secondary uses such as fuel an anaerobic digester to generate electricity or use in feed for animals.