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Latest News 2008

From the December 2008 Newsletter:


As was the case last year already, there won’t be sit-down community suppers in the rink house – it makes the rink too crowded for skaters. But the tasty market-food suppers will still be available to eat at the regular rink tables or at the bar-stool counter, on Fridays, and then (however long the leftovers last) through the weekend. Every day of the week there’s Mary Sylwester’s warming soup, Sosnicki’s perogies, the mini-pizzas and Beretta’s hot dogs and the park cookies. All that fresh air makes skaters hungry.

From the November 2008 Newsletter:


click on the image to enlarge it

At the end of September the Toronto Star published a small article about bake ovens in Toronto parks. The article mentioned the efforts of a group in an Etobicoke low-cost housing area to get an oven in Bell Manor Park. The reporter also quoted Parks supervisor Peter Leiss: He said the city must balance pollution, public safety and health concerns before allowing more bread ovens. "And one burned down this year at Christie Pits." In fact, though, the Christie Pits oven did not burn down. It had vandalism to its roof, which has now been repaired. There was no damage to the oven, which was much used for summer-camp pizza events. This fall, the energetic “Friends of Christie Pits” group worked with the Bob Abate Community Centre recreation staff to put on very lively family pizza suppers at the Christie oven every Friday.

The Star article reflects a very pessimistic attitude toward bake ovens by some city Parks staff. This is of concern, since it appears that these same Parks staff have recently been meeting to develop a bake-oven policy, without seeking input from either the recreation staff who do the actual oven programming, or the community people who use those programs. On November 3, when Councillor Adam Giambrone learned of the closed-door bake-oven policy meetings, he wrote a very positive letter of support to Councillor Paula Fletcher, chair of the Parks Committee. “As you know, in parks where these bake-ovens do exist, they have become a much-loved community asset. They provide the opportunity for many fun and educational events in our parks involving fresh, healthy food. They are also often an important component of successful farmers’ markets in our parks.”

The park bake-ovens are “masonry ovens,” meaning they use wood heat very efficiently and are actually quite good on the Kyoto-points scale. Wood, of course, is one of the most renewable energy sources, and the carbon released by burning wood in a masonry oven is apparently no greater than the carbon released when trees fall and degrade naturally at the end of their life cycle. (For articles on this, go to, click on “bake ovens and food” and then “media.”)

There are oven enthusiasts in other parts of the city, who either run a park oven already or intend to raise funds to build one. The Etobicoke group have set up the first-ever citywide community bake-oven meeting for the middle of November. It will be held at The Stop Community Food Centre, which has had its own outdoor bake oven for five years and is adding another community oven at the Green Barns next year, for the Green Barns Farmers’ Market. Time to talk about how to keep the bread baking in the parks (and the vegetables roasting, and the pizza sizzling, and the tomatoes drying, etc.)

From the September 2008 Newsletter:


PIZZA DAYS: Sundays, 1 pm to 3 pm. (weather permitting). From recreation staff Amy Withers Eckert: For the first time in more than 6 years we have raised the cost from $2 to $2.50 per pizza as the requested donation (you get a lump of dough, some tomato sauce, and cheese, and you can pick toppings from the park gardens when they’re growing there). If you plan to bring a big group (more than 9 people altogether) please call ahead to warn the staff 416-392-0913 or email”

Pizza times for School Groups/ Daycares/ Groups: Groups can make special bookings on Tuesdays from 1-2pm or 2-3pm. It costs $60 for staffing, plus the regular $2.50 per pizza. Birthday parties with pizza: You can book an hour on Sundays before or after the public pizza times (i.e. birthday party bookings are at 12pm or 3 pm on Sundays). It costs $60 for staffing, plus the regular $2.50 per pizza. If you can’t afford that, park staff will work out a trade with you. To book: contact staff at 416-392-0913 or email

FRIDAY NIGHT SUPPER by the oven, 6 p.m This is also a weekly fundraiser for park programs. All the surplus goes to adding more programming at the playground in the summer. A win-win! General information: Everyone welcome. No reservations are necessary. Park cooks use ingredients from the Thursday farmers’ market. Prices: By donation. Suggested donations (to cover cost of materials plus park program fundraising): soup $2, main dish $6 (choice of meat or vegetarian/vegan), salad $2, dessert $2 - $3 depending. Cooks this year (taking turns) are Mary Sylwester, Anna Bekerman, Claire Freeman-Fawcett, Anna Galati, Andrea McCoy and Yo Utano. Supper is served until 7.30 p.m.

REQUEST FOR DRY WOOD FOR THE PARK OVENS: The park bakers need more wood, they don’t want to use skids anymore. Carpenters with wood scraps, consider trading your scraps for bread! Call 416 392-0913, or e-mail

In August 2008 Newsletter

In July 2008 Newsletter

From the June 2008 Newsletter:

How The Bakers Got Their Fridge

New Fridge At Dufferin Grove Park

At the end of May the park’s big commercial fridge finally died of old age. It belonged to one of the farmers, who only used it on Thursdays. The rest of the time it was used by the park cooks and especially by the bakers, who need a big fridge for storing their various sourdough starters and Italian-bread mixes during the two pre-market days.

Commercial fridges are terribly expensive. What to do? The bakers remembered that John Cannell – a volunteer at the bio-toilet site – has an HVAC business. They thought he might know something about where to get big fridges cheap. They tracked him down and John said that he happened to have a commercial fridge that he didn’t need. He brought it over from his office in Mississauga, and gave it to the park as a gift. It’s beautiful. A story that seemed too good to be true – but it was true anyway.

In May 2008 Newsletter

From the April 2008 Newsletter:

Tenth annual matzah bake

Sunday April 13: The tenth annual Matzah Bake at the park outdoor bake oven 12 noon to 3 pm.

From this year’s organizer Mitch Davis: Come join us at Dufferin Grove Park to bake Matzot. Everyone is welcome, bring the kids. All materials provided.

Ingredients and instructions: Kosher for Passover white flour (provided). Spring Water (provided). Your labour.

Mix, roll and bake…all in less than 18 minutes. Cost: by donation, to cover expenses. All utensils, rolling pins etc. are kept for Passover Matzah baking only.

For more information, contact Park staff will help at the ovens, keeping them very hot. See Matzah bake gallery.

From the April 2008 Newsletter:


The park bakers need more wood, they don’t want to use skids anymore. Carpenters with wood scraps, consider trading your scraps for bread! Call 416 392-0913, or e-mail

posted March 22, 2008

This year is the tenth year of the matzo bake at the park bake-oven. Everyone welcome!

Click on poster to enlarge it.

Older 2008 News

From the January2008 Newsletter:


The Zamboni café is open seven days a week, serving park cookies, hot chocolate, mini-pizzas, organic hot dogs, Mary Sylwester’s vegan burgers and warming farmers’ market soup and muffins, park oven bread and butter, Sosnicki’s perogies, and other surprises. On Fridays, and often on Saturdays, the food is a little more elaborate for those rink users who’d like to have supper and skate or visit there with friends.

How the money works: all the food is also a fund-raiser for other park activities. The (very cheap) prices suggested on the menu board are to cover the cost of materials and to add a bit of money to the park fund. If you can’t pay that much, don’t! If you can pay more, do! (It all goes to a good cause – for instance – a cord of wood for the rink woodstove.) If you can’t pay at all, even to cover materials, swap some work for food – the park staff are often swamped, and a bit of help with tidying the rink house or snow shoveling is much appreciated. Or swap something the park can use – a load of clean scrap-wood from home, for instance, to burn in the bread ovens. If you forgot your money at home, just tell the staff you’ll bring it later. It all works out.

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