Transition Guelph

Posted May 16, 2016 by

What’s going on with the GTL

Location: The site search continues but we do have a few good options to consider. If you know of a business or group that has a suitable affordable space, please let us know! We need a single car garage size space, with electricity, heat and water. It should be centrally located and near a bus stop and on street level with easy access.

Tool Donations: Our library offers a collection of tools specifically gathered to support urban and backyard agriculture and food production in Guelph. Donations of basic garden tools are flowing in well but we haven’t received much kitchen related inventory. A list of things we could use is listed at the end of this update. Please spread the word!

Our Art Collection: We saw an opportunity through the tool library to grow support for the arts in Guelph,  furthering the local growth of resilience skills like creativity. Saba Sanienejad has stepped up as our Curator of Art & Craft Tools. These could include:
Leatherworking tools
Glass and tile cutting tools
Sewing machines and sergers
Weaving and spinning equipment
Paper and matt cutters

Repair Cafe: We’re hosting our first Repair Cafe on the morning of August 20th at St James the Apostle Church. You can bring in a broken household item and ideally, get it fixed! There will be various repair stations: electrical items, jewelry, zippers, clothing, furniture and wooden items, etc. The CSA Bike Centre will be there for minor bike repairs and maintenance. There will also be a locally grown salad buffet brunch, tool library donation drop-off, swap tables and info displays. More info to come!

Networking the Guelph Sharing Economy: We’ve been connecting with others working locally in other sectors of the sharing economy. Last week we met with the CSA Bike Club and Ed Video. Next week we’re meeting with Ten Carden. Also this month we will be meeting with the Guelph Public Library and the city’s Community Garden Working Group.

Volunteers: Yup, we’ll need them. Interested? Email us and I’ll add you to our list. We believe in giving volunteers interesting and creative tasks. Write-ups of volunteer positions are in the works.

To contact the tool library, email

Follow us on Twitter @GToolLibrary

Kitchen wish list (by no means is this a complete list!)

  • Blender with glass jug
  • Hand mixer
  • Slow cooker
  • Stand mixer with dough hooks
  • Pressure canner
  • Toaster oven
  • Hot plate
  • Propane outdoor cooker
  • Smoker
  • Charcoal bbq
  • Canning pot
  • Stock pot
  • Rice cooker
  • Dehydrator
  • Pasta mill
  • Grain press
  • Flour mill
  • Various food thermometers
  • Various cake tins
  • Icing kit
  • Juicer
  • Large roasting pan
  • Large serving platters
  • Foley mill
  • Scales
  • Sets of dishes, glassware etc suitable for catering
Posted in Urban Food
Posted May 6, 2016 by
Tool Library

Susan Carey, chair of the Urban Food Working Group at Transition Guelph, holds some of the hand tools, kitchen tools and seed packs soon to be available as part of the organization’s latest projects.

Originally published in the Guelph Mercury at
By Doug Coxson

Susan Carey wants you to take a moment to consider the inch of dust collecting on the mitre saw in your basement.

While you’re at it, ponder the waste-of-space wheelbarrow in your garden shed; or the rototiller you’ve always wanted but couldn’t justify buying.

By the way, did you to know the average lifetime use for a power drill is only 13 minutes?

In other words — you don’t need a drill, you need a hole in the wall.

Carey, who chairs the Urban Food Working Group at
Transition Guelph, thought about these and other realities as she and co-conspirator John Dennis discussed the possibility of launching a tool library over the last year.

What’s a tool library, you ask?

It’s a library where you borrow tools instead of books.

Instead of forking out $200 for a reciprocating saw that will end up gathering dust between uses, you could join a tool library and get the tools you need, when you need them, at a fraction of the cost.

Many who buy into the concept end up donating tools to free up space in their homes.

“It’s such a good fit for this town,” says Carey, who was inspired by Transition Guelph’s mandate to build a resilient and sustainable community.

It’s also a good fit for Transition Guelph — the eight-year-old, not-for-profit organization that has spawned innovative projects like urban farm tours, a seed exchange, a community orchard and the Urban Sugaring Project, which loans out buckets and taps for residents to collect sap and participate in a communal boil-down of maple syrup.

The tool library concept grew from Guelph’s backyard-sharing program, created to expand the inventory of backyard space available for community gardens, and the tools needed to maintain them.

It sparked the idea to create a system where residents could pay a small, annual fee for the opportunity to reserve agricultural tools through an easy-to-use website, then pick them up and return them to a central location.

But it’s not a new concept. The first tool library opened in Berkeley, Calif., in 1979. Today, there are close to 120 tool libraries around the world, Toronto having the second one in Canada.

In Guelph, the push to launch a tool library really began to take off when Transition Guelph received a $5,000 wellness grant from the city and a $500 donation from the Rotary Club. Today, it’s nearing reality as a summer launch date approaches and donations of tools and equipment continue to roll in.

“The mayor and council have been very supportive,” Carey says. “They see this as a benefit to the community.”

Last fall, a community survey about what the Guelph tool library should include gathered 127 responses that named everything from post hole diggers to pressure canners. Since then, some of the big items added to the inventory are four wheelbarrows, a cider press and a rototiller.

JD Engines has offered to donate maintenance service for the entire tool library inventory as it grows.

Other parts of the project are still in the works, including securing a location, launching the website and the possibility of offering delivery for some of the bigger tools.

One site being considered is the former Acker’s Furniture space on Carden Street. Other ideas have the tool inventory stored in a shipping container stationed in a parking lot donated by a local business.

Guelph’s Tool Library wouldn’t have happened without help from the Toronto Tool Library and its co-founder Lawrence Alvarez, who provided guidance that included access to the lending software developed by the Berkeley Tool Library.

Alvarez helped establish Toronto’s Tool Library in March 2013. It now has four locations, including an expanded location on Danforth Avenue called The Sharing Depot, which opened last week to give members access to a selection of camping and outdoor equipment, toys and games.

Alvarez is unapologetic about how the idea grew from efforts around reducing consumption and reducing our carbon footprint.

“We’ve had people say that this would disrupt existing business, but for me I’m always trying to look at what the world needs in 50 years,” he says.

“It’s always been about the disruption of the needless consumption of these things. It’s a waste of money, a waste of space and it’s a tremendous waste of the earth’s resources”

“We can’t continue to use the earth in disposable, single-use fashion anymore.”

Carey says the concept has gained traction as the sharing economy grew and people looked for ways to simplify their lives.

“Western society has brought capitalism to a stage in development where there is simply too much stuff,” she says, citing her own experience with the local clothing closet where they’re often overwhelmed with donations.

But she doesn’t see a project like this hurting local businesses, mainly because the concept isn’t for everyone and those who use it will still have a disposable income to spend on other stuff.

“People are still shopping, they’re just shopping differently.”

Carey also sees the tool library as a way to bolster community connectedness and sees complementary goals between the tool library and places like the Diyode community workshop.

The Wyndham Street maker space offers a place for its paying members to use various equipment including electronics, woodworking and metalworking tools. It’s a space where Carey says collaboration could happen — perhaps a “repair café” where people could drop by, enjoy a coffee and have experts offer quick fixes for things like broken zippers, dead cellphones or “the lamp the dog chewed the cord on.”

Another offshoot of the tool library is a plan to develop a kitchen library. That concept offers shared kitchen equipment, from stand mixers to bread ovens.

Just last week, Guelph’s Urban Food Working Group hosted a roundtable at the former Acker’s building, where plans are coming together to develop a shared commercial community kitchen.

“Those plans would complement the kitchen equipment we aspire to make available to the community,” Carey says.

Carey hopes it becomes a “runaway project,” and sees a day when collaboration happens between Transition Guelph and the Guelph Public Library, giving every library patron access to the tool library at little to no cost.

The ultimate goal of any tool library is to eliminate the economic barrier to access.

So far the community has embraced the idea, and Carey’s eager to hear from even more Guelphites who want to become members.

More information is available by emailing

Posted in General
Posted April 27, 2016 by
harcourt-prep-day-01Planting season is upon us and there is so much going on with TG right now. May is looking jam packed right now! I’m sitting at almost 7 months pregnant right now and I can honestly say that I plan on spending every spare moment gardening – and there’s no shortage of opportunity. I’ve got some raised beds in my backyard that are ready to go, a plot at my local community garden that I’m excited to start this year, and a number of other projects that I can get involved with on weekends to lend a hand. It’s an awesome opportunity to get outside, meet friends, work communally, and also expose my son to a lifestyle that I truly believe in!
If you’ve been interested in getting involved with Transition Guelph, this is a great time of year to jump in. All events are open to the public with no experience required. TGers are friendly, open, and come from all walks of life. I can honestly say that this is the warmest group of people I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with. So no excuses! Come hang out!
This Saturday April 30th: Join us at the GROW Communal Gardens to learn and share skills with experienced gardeners! 9am – 12pm
Tuesday May 2nd: Come hang out at 10 Carden from 7pm-9pm as we try to (successfully) watch Revolution and eat yummy snacks
Saturday May 7th: The Guelph Community Orchard is going to be hanging out at Harcourt United Church from 9am – 12pm. Stop by and lend a hand!
Saturday May 14th: Treemobile sorting day! We are still looking for volunteers as we DOUBLED orders from last year (yay Guelph!).
Sunday May 15th: Treemobile planting/delivery day! If you’ve got a vehicle or a shovel to share, come plant!
PLUS: check out all the amazing reskilling workshops hosted by Minga Skill Building Hub
Details for all the events are online here: Please share this post.
It would make me beyond happy to meet some of you in person and make new friends 🙂 <3
Posted in Community Engagement Urban Food and tagged with community eco food gardening green Guelph resilience sustainability urban
Posted April 12, 2016 by

This is guest post from Evan Ferrari, Executive Director of eMERGE Guelph, one of Transition Guelph’s wonderful partner organizations. If you have more questions about the CEI and how you can help, please get in touch with me at

Photo from

Photo from

What’s the best thing you can do on Earth Day?

Support the CEI (Community Energy Initiative) – creating a local economy that puts more people to work by reducing the pollution causing climate change.

On Monday April 25 the city will make a decision on the fate of whether to update the CEI. Rarely do we get a chance to have a profound impact on the future of our city’s economy – and at the same time – improve our environment. Add your voice to update the CEI and accelerate the work to create a post-carbon economy.

The CEI provides all of us with the opportunity to transform our local economy for the better. An economy that will focus on putting our neighbours and families to work by investing in:

  • using less energy,
  • using energy more wisely
  • and producing more clean energy alternatives locally.

It’s about creating more energy security within our city.

By getting this right we can keep more of the half a $ billion dollars a year in energy costs that leaves the city — right here. We can do this by putting more people to work locally. And at the same time we would be creating a healthier place for our children to grow and prosper. Now nine years old, the initiative has some challenges. But an update will focus us toward a cleaner and more prosperous path forward. The Guelph CEI has been a catalyst for municipalities across the country to take charge of their own local economy.

Some of the local benefits that have come from the CEI include:

  1. Guelph generates 50% more peak electricity locally than similar Ontario communities. We’ve done this through solar photo-voltaic, combined heat and power and by harnessing methane from the former Eastview landfill site. This amounts to 10’s of millions of dollars of local capital investment – at a minimum. And millions of dollars, every year, staying in the city from the electricity that’s been generated. Those generating systems are owned by local businesses, co-ops, institutions, places of worship and individual homeowners. We are 50% above average because of the CEI.
  2. And then there’s a new project where Reids Heritage Homes wants to work with their competitors to build an entire community of highly efficient Net-Zero homes that will be 3 times more energy efficient than the current building code. They don’t want to build a single ‘demonstration home’ but an entire community. They have been very clear that they want to do this in Guelph because of the CEI.
  3. Another downtown property -about to be renovated – is considering making their building “District Energy Ready” They’re considering this because of the CEI.
  4. Then there’s the Canadian Solar plant that employs 500 people. Canadian Solar has 10,000 employees worldwide. Their revenue in 2014: $2.96 Billion US (more than $3 Billion CAD). In 2015 they ranked second worldwide in solar panel shipments. And they chose to make Guelph their worldwide headquarters because of the CEI.

At eMERGE we’re very encouraged that the CEI report is recommending a full public update. It proposes a community driven Initiative that re-engages businesses, institutions and of course all citizens of Guelph to make this a robust a plan. We encourage you to let city council know how you feel about updating the CEI in order to move towards a diversified economy that makes our community healthier and more prosperous.

Posted in General
Posted March 28, 2016 by

We are calling this year’s festival a great success! With a more condensed schedule than last year, it seemed to suit the mood. We ran events from Thursday to Sunday covering a good variety of interests.

The Builder’s Symposium reported a good turn out, as did the film screening (with a few technical difficulties). On Saturday, we had a lot of people through the festival to learn new skills at the Minga Skill Building workshops and buy seeds for their garden at Seedy Saturday. Guelph Community Acupuncture also offered free treatments through the afternoon. The raffle raised a good bit of money to help cover costs, and boasted prizes such as gift certificates to New Age, Zehrs and Smitten Apparel, as well as a Wike cargo trailer!

Here are the raffle winners. We will be contacting you by phone if you haven’t heard from us yet.

Rain Barrel: Sherry Dubé
Green light at the end of the tunnel (book) and membership to Yorklands Green Hub: Bern
Gift certificate to Smitten Apparel: Sharon
Gift certificate to Minga Skill Building Hub: Sandy
Gift certificate to New Age health food store: Stan
Gift certificate to Zehrs: Emily, Annie
Wellington Brewery gift basket: Wanita, Janet
Fairy house from Lucien Gagnon: Tiff
Wike Economy cargo trailer: Dave

On Saturday evening we had around 100 people for the 8th annual Earth Hour Potluck, lit by solar-charged-battery-powered Christmas lights (thanks Doug!). We enjoyed good food and a good company while the little ones of the community ran around and laughed together. Finishing off Saturday night, Gary Diggins lead the Big Beat at Silence, which saw around 50 people share a solstice celebration in music and dance.

Sunday morning’s Living Life to the Fullest workshop, at Innovation Guelph was very well attended. Partner yoga was small but fun, and the Narratives workshop in the afternoon was cancelled due to lack of participants.

Overall, we are happy with how the festival went, and are grateful to our volunteers, coordinators, event and workshop leaders, and everyone who came out! Thank you for another great year!

As a note, if you volunteered with the festival this year and would like to receive timebank hours as payment for your efforts, please email

Posted in General
Posted March 28, 2016 by

Urban Sugaring Project Update

We will be bottling maple syrup on Tuesday March 29 from 11 am until 3 pm.  Feel free to drop by St. James for a coffee if you would like to see the process.  Syrup will be available for pick up the following day, Wednesday March 30 from 6 until 7:00 p.m., and on Sunday April 3 from noon until 1 p.m. from St. James (86 Glasgow Street North).

Posted in Urban Food
Posted March 14, 2016 by

The last of the sap pick ups will take place next week.  You can drop off your sap on Monday March 14 and Wednesday March 16 from 5 until 6 p.m. at the St. James Parking lot (86 Glasgow Street North).

If your tree has stopped running, sap has not come out of the tree for three or four day in a row, please return your kits.  Give the equipment a quick rinse but do not use any soap of cleaners on it.  Also remember to keep your sap in a cool place out of the sun.  It can also be frozen to ensure that it does not go off.

The Urban Sugaring Project TeamIMG_20160310_181749

Posted in General
Posted March 9, 2016 by

The Treemobile recently got some coverage in Guelph Today (Guelph’s new community newspaper). The original article can be found here:


Not-for-profit Treemobile a growing concern in Guelph

Program delivers fruit trees, shrubs and veggie plants to your home 10
by: Tony Saxon


There’s a lot more low-hanging fruit in Guelph these days thanks to a not-for-profit endeavour aimed at addressing local sustainability, quality food and global climate issues.

The Transition Treemobile has delivered over 300 fruit trees and 2,000 shrubs and vegetable plants locally since it got its start in Guelph five years ago.

Since then it has spread to Toronto and is in the process of starting up in Cambridge.

Last year saw 1,440 trees, shrubs, vines and plants distributed through the program.

You select items from an online catalogue and in early May volunteers deliver them. They will even plant them for you if desired.

Choices range from apple and pear trees to raspberry bushes, asparagus and strawberry plants.

The program is the brainchild of Virginie Gysel, who started the program through Transition Guelph five years ago when she was a student at the U of G. After moving to Toronto two years ago she started it up there.

“I was at a meeting of Transition Guelph and we were talking about food security. I said the only way to have it is to plant it,” Gysel says of how the Treemobile got its start.

She says it’s about local, delicious food that can be shared with others.

“People just really like the apples. Pears are easier, but people just love the apples,” says Gysel of the most popular tree.

She thinks people like the idea of having apples that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides.

“Our favourite is if people dig the hole before we get there then we plant the tree,” Gysel says. “But we have a lot of seniors who don’t own a shovel.”
Transition Guelph is a grass roots volunteer organization that promotes local projects aimed at addressing local and global energy and climate change issues.

Several Transition Guelph projects revolve around local food collaboration, learning and skill building using local backyards and gardens.

“Our goal is to create a richer, more vibrant community through the re-localization of the services and resources that we need in order to survive and thrive in a world of long-term energy cost increases, climate change, and growing instability in the world economy,” Transition Guelph’s web site says.

Gysel says Guelph was a great place to start the Treemobile because of its size, large gardens and attitude towards the environment.

“We kept it small as a pilot project the first year but every year since we’ve pretty much doubled the number,” Gysel says. “People just really seem to connect with what we’re doing.”

At the end of the distribution process, she says the Treemobile project has a grant system where surplus trees, shrubs, vines and plants are distributed to charities, churches and schools.

Delivery in Guelph is scheduled for mid-May. For more information on the program and pricing, go to

Posted in Urban Food
Posted February 26, 2016 by

John Dennis and Susan Carey of the Urban Sugaring Project traveled to Kitchener to be part of the CBC Kitchener morning radio show with Craig Norris. Originally published here.

New project will see Guelph residents tap backyard maple trees in exchange for syrup

Transition Guelph is holding a pancake breakfast so homeowners can learn more


Susan Carey and John Dennis are with Transition Guelph, a group that is hoping an urban sugaring project will see Guelph residents tap maple trees on their property in return for some maple syrup. (Amanda Grant/CBC News)

A new initiative in Guelph is hoping to get local residents to tap their maple trees in return for some syrup.

Transition Guelph is a group interested in teaching people about using local resources, the project’s coordinator John Dennis told host Craig Norris on The Morning Edition Thursday.

“One of the unused resources we saw were all these wonderful maple trees,” he said.

For $10, the group will provide a kit to homeowners with a tap, metal bucket, a plastic food-grade bucket and instructions that will be used to transport the sap back to the group.

Dennis said those taking part will get an email or phone call when the weather is just right in Guelph to tap trees, and then everyone will collect their sap over the same period of about a week, then return the sap to high school student volunteers, who will boil it down into the sugary syrup.

“We’re almost at an ideal time now,” Dennis said.

The group is hoping to get 40 or 50 people involved, and some of those are expected to have more than one tree to tap.

How much maple syrup participants will get will depend on how much sap is collected.

Those interested in taking part can attend a pancake breakfast on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at St. James the Apostle Church to learn more.

Posted in Urban Food
Posted February 19, 2016 by

RotaryTransition Guelph is pleased to be the recipient of a 2016 Rotary Club of Guelph-Trillium Community Funding Grant.  The grant for $500 will be used to establish Guelph’s first tool library.  The library will have tools that anyone can borrow to be a successful gardener and to properly preserve food.

The grant recognizes that there is a clearly identified need for this program and provides seed money for Transition Guelph to undertake this project.  We are thankful for the support of the Rotary Club of Guelph-Trillium.

Click here to find out more Guelph Tool library.


Posted in General
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