Land Art BioBlitz 2017

This workshop is part of the spring celebration series: Land Art

Click here to read the report on the 2017 Land Art BioBlitz. This report was submitted to our primary funder, TD Friends of the Environment. We’re very excited to share these wonderful outcomes with TD FEF, as well as our other sponsors and supporters!

WEDNESDAY May 24 (10am) to SUNDAY May 28 (2pm), 2017

Engage in citizen science and learn more about what’s living in your backyard!

Calling all expert naturalists, amateur naturalists, nature enthusiasts, outdoor junkies, the curious, and everyone under the sun! Join us for the 3rd annual Wintergreen Studios BioBlitz and help us celebrate our natural heritage and learn to love its amazing diversity.

This is a rain or shine event. Come one, come all, and bring the whole family! You’re welcome to join us for a few hours, for a full day, or for the entire stretch. Let’s all come together to observe more, learn more, and protect what sustains us. Because we depend on biodiversity and biodiversity depends on us!


What is a BioBlitz and why hold one?

A BioBlitz is the coolest outreach citizen science event of its kind.  
– Dave Ireland, ROM Managing Director, Centre for Biodiversity

The idea behind a BioBlitz is to bring together scientists, naturalists, along with members of the general public, to track and learn more about wildlife identification and explore the outdoors. The goal is to identify as many species of plants, animals, birds, microbes, fungi, and other organisms as possible, typically over a 24-hour period. This inventory of living things in an area provides a snapshot of the existing biodiversity — a baseline for observing future changes that could occur due to climate change or invasive species.

The BioBlitz has truly become an international movement — they are held all over the world as we all try and learn more about our planet’s biodiversity and ecosystems, and learn to live in harmony with all living species. But you may have noticed that Wintergreen’s BioBlitz takes place over a five-day period…


How is the Wintergreen BioBlitz different?

Bioblitz 2017

This year, instead of it being a race to identifying as many living organisms as possible in a 24-hour period, we’re planning a “slowBioBlitz, to be held over several days. The idea is to mirror and honour the Slow Food movement, giving everyone a chance to form a deeper connection with the natural world.

In response to the 1986 promise of a McDonald’s restaurant opening near the Spanish Steps in Rome, Carlo Petrini founded a movement that has come to be known as Slow Food ( The movement has expanded globally; there are over 100,000 official members in 150 countries, in addition to the millions of local farmers, chefs, and consumers who embrace the slow food tenets without being official members ( Slow food advocates are committed to enjoying the pleasures of good food in combination with a commitment to community and the environment. The slow food movement highlights traditional and regional cooking, and encourages the cultivation of plants, seeds, and livestock that are characteristic of local ecosystems.

Slow food is part of a larger movement, which calls for a cultural shift in slowing down the pace of life. We try and do this with all of our activities at Wintergreen and we will slowww down the pace of the BioBlitz as well. Letting it unfold over five days 
will not only challenge us to be more mindful and take the time to enjoy all the area and atmosphere has to offer, but also allows us to involve more people in the BioBlitz itself. By including several school days, we will be able to bring classes of elementary and secondary students to join the BioBlitz, building on the work that occurred in the 2016 BioBlitz and inspire the next generation of naturalists to take action for biodiversity. These students will not only be involved in species identification and educational workshops, but also learn how the arts both honour and extend the beauty and complexities of the natural world.


What can we do besides count species?

What makes the Wintergreen Studios BioBlitz unique is that it’s more than just species identification. It’s all about learning what’s out there and creating a better understanding of why biodiversity is so important. There’s truly something for everyone!

BioBlitz 2017During the Wintergreen BioBlitz there will be a series of hands-on educational workshops throughout the entire event. From animal and insect conservationforaging, and developing birding skills, to interactive musical exploration, guided nature hikes, and exploring the interrelationship between living things, participants will learn more about various species, explore the grandiosity that makes up the natural world, and chat with other like-minded people. These special features are not to be missed!


What workshops can we expect? 

For more detailed information on each workshop, CLICK HERE!

Can you tell me more about the workshop instructors? 

When you engage in a workshop at the BioBlitz, you’re in good hands. Our instructors are friendly, accessible and among the best in their respective fields. Here are some of this year’s instructors:

MATT ELLERBECK (aka The Salamander Man), is a Salamander Conservationist whom is licensed with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. He is a Partner of the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), which is the world’s largest partnership for amphibian conservation. The Amphibian Ark, a prominent figure in the world of conservation also featured him as one of their Amphibian Ambassadors. Matt’s salamander advocacy efforts earned him the Cataraqui Conservation Foundation’s Education Award. He has been aptly described by the Frontenac News as the champion of creatures great yet small, and hailed as a legend by the Chairman of the Cambridge Amphibian and Reptile Group.

Learn more about his work by visiting

RICHARD AARON is a professional naturalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who has worked with over 80 organizations, including nature clubs, conservation groups, provincial parks and universities. He is interested in all facets of the natural world, with a particular fondness for plants, fungi and insects. He places a premium on experiential learning whether it’s examining a flower through a hand lens, netting an insect (for later release), or making a mushroom spore print. He strongly encourages intellectual curiosity, while acknowledging that sometimes the best questions are those that lack clear-cut answers. His motto is “Explore – Observe – Question”, which he lives and breathes with all he does. 

Learn more about his work by visiting

MARIE BENCZE is an organic vegetable farmer, community organizer, and social & environmental justice activist. She runs Rad Kids, a food and farm education project that includes a summer day camp on a farm. She lives in Kingston with her partner, cat, and chickens, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Studies.


Learn more about her work by visiting

Photo courtesy of Brett Delmage

JESSE STEWART is a composer, percussionist, artist, and educator. His music has been documented on over twenty recordings including Stretch Orchestra’s self-titled debut album, which was honoured with the 2012 “Instrumental Album of the Year” Juno award. He has been described as “one of the most innovative musicians in Canada” (OttawaJazzScene, 2015).

He has performed and/or recorded with musical luminaries including Jacques Israelievitch (former concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony), William Parker (acclaimed New York City jazz bassist, described as “the most important leader of the current avant-garde scene in jazz” by the Boston Globe), Pauline Oliveros (called the “godmother of American experimentalist music” by New Yorker magazine), Hamid Drake (master drummer and percussionist), Ernst Reijseger (Dutch cello virtuoso), Pandit Anindo Chatterjee (one of the world’s foremost tabla virtuosos), Dong-Won Kim (master Korean percussionist and member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble), and many others.  He performs regularly with Stretch Orchestra (with Kevin Breit, Matt Brubeck), the Sonoluminescence Trio (with David Mott and William Parker), the Stream Quartet (with David Mott, Peter Lutek, and Justin Gray), and in various groups under his own leadership.

His music has been performed at festivals throughout Canada, Europe and the United States, and he has been widely commissioned as a composer and artist. He endorses Headhunters brand drumsticks and brushes. He is a professor of music in Carleton University’s music program and an adjunct professor in the visual arts department at the University of Ottawa. In 2014, he was named to the Order of Ottawa, one of the city’s highest civic honours.

Learn more about his work by visiting

BRONWYN HARKNESS is a passionate naturalist who loves to share her
knowledge of the outdoors with others! Although she is interested in all living things, most of her time outdoors is spent watching and listening for birds. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Biology studying conservation genetics! When not working on her degree, Bronwyn enjoys volunteering with the Kingston Junior Naturalists Club, educating children about the wonders and diversity of the natural world. Bronwyn participated in Wintergreen Studios’ BioBlitz 2016 and is very excited to be returning!



Is there a charge?

Except for the canteen and overnight lodging, the BioBlitz is FREE to the public! We are able to offer this event without charge because of the generous support of the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.


Is the BioBlitz suitable for all ages?

Yes! This is a FAMILY-FRIENDLY event. We invite everyone, young and old, to come explore the stunning land, identify as many species as possible (or learn the basics of species identification), and hopefully learn something new from one of the many nature and music related workshops offered.


What if we don’t have access to transportation?

We recognize that Wintergreen Studios may not be accessible to everyone interested in participating.  Keeping with our efforts to achieve sustainable living and environmentally respectful practices, we encourage carpooling to the site. We are using Facebook as a platform to allow participants to connect with each other and arrange rides to and from the surrounding area. More information can be found by visiting our event page. 


Can we spend the night?

Yes! We have a large tenting area free of charge (bring your own tent), as well as rooms in the Wintergreen lodge and woodland cabins. We’re offering rooms and cabins at a reduced rate for the BioBlitz at $50/night. If you are interested in rooms or cabins, please contact Diane Black at, with your dates and lodging preferences.


What about food?

You’re more than welcome to bring your own food and snacks. There will also be a canteen with food for sale for those who would prefer to purchase snacks and meals. If you do chose to bring your own food, we encourage you to follow the zero-waste program, doing your part to reduce waste generated by disposable, non-renewable packaging.


What should we bring?

Bearing in mind that Wintergreen Studios is in the heart of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, you should prepare yourself with anything you deem necessary for time spent outdoors. Here is a sample list of things that we recommend bringing:

  • Clothing – long socks to tuck pants into (+ extra pair), long pants (and/or windproof pants), shorts, layers (t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, warm sweater/pullover), raincoat, hiking shoes/boots (+ extra pair), pyjamas (avoid cotton), hat
  • Sunscreen, insect repellent, tick repellant (we suggest using natural products, such as rose geranium oil, and ask you to avoid using products with DEET)
  • Daypack (sturdy and comfortable) and travel first aid kit (while we do have one on site, it’s recommended to bring one with you while hiking)
  • Water bottle
  • Camera
  • Flashlight and/or headlamp
  • Personal items (toothbrush, hand sanitizer…)
  • Sleeping bag, pillow, tent, tarp (if tenting)
  • Identification resources! (pencil, paper, clipboard, notebook, field guides, hand lenses, microscope)


What type of land can we expect?

Wintergreen Studios boasts a stunning and richly diverse 204-acre property featuring a network of over a dozen hiking trails through mixed forests and meadows, granite outcroppings, ponds, marshes, and even a glacier carved lake. It is home to a wide range of plant and wildlife, which makes it a perfect host site for a BioBlitz.


Who are your supporters?

This event certainly wouldn’t be possible without the support of these amazing organizations. Please show them some love!




Have a question that we have yet to answer? Queries can be sent to Monica Capovilla, BioBlitz Program Director at