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Our Team


Dorte Windmuller

Founding member of Cliffcrest Butterflyway

Since my childhood, I have been interested in trees and flowers  - not so much in insects. In Germany, we didn't have many butterflies, but there were so many flies, wasps, and bees. When we went on road trips, we'd have to stop every 2 hours to wash our windows clear of flies. I also fondly remember the black clouds of moths flying around lights on beautiful summer nights. This abundant bird food has been diminished because of gardening practices that have evolved in times in which humans worked in the spirit of conquering and taming nature.

I believe that we have come to a point where we need to change our mindset. We need to realize that we have unintentionally destroyed too much of the only force that sustains us effortlessly. By learning about native plants and growing them, we can reconcile with nature. I am fascinated by the immense force and wisdom nature brings forth if you let be, observe and learn. I have experienced how simple it is to create an environment in which nature can bounce back to unimaginable bounty by introducing native plants and changing traditional garden practices.

 This inspired me to start the Cliffcrest Butterflyway in early 2020 with a couple of neighbours. The community work fueled my passion so much that I advocated for pollinators full time and led to starting a pollinator garden consulting firm in 2023. I offer garden visits to give individualized advice on how to fast-track success in creating pollinator gardens.  

To document the intricate beauty of native plants and their relations to pollinators, I started photography. Photos of my garden are published in Lorraine Johnson's and Sheila Colla's book 'A Garden For The Rusty-Patched Bumblebee' and in the work of the North American Native Plant Society and some of my favourite pictures are posted at 


Janine Penev

Founding member of Cliffcrest Butterflyway

I am a lifelong resident of East Toronto, having grown up in Guildwood Village and now residing in the Cliffcrest community. A considerable portion of my childhood was spent in nature; I fondly recall the many hikes I would take with my family, along the trails and pathways in places such as Highland Creek Park, Colonel Danforth Park, and Rouge Valley Park, among others. These were the semi-wild forested areas which we affectionately dubbed "the wilderness". During these walks, my sisters and I would challenge each other in the game of spotting the diverse plants, birds, insects and creatures we would encounter. We marvelled at our many discoveries near the walking trails (while also desperately dodging the swarms of mosquitoes and midges along the adjacent rivers).

There were also the countless summers my sisters and I spent helping my parents to prepare and maintain our sizable backyard gardens, which produced an abundance of a variety of fruits and vegetables consistently throughout the seasons. I recall collecting the ripe produce while witnessing bees and butterflies swiftly navigate the pollinator plants around me. I always partook in these activities begrudgingly at first, but in every occasion, my resistance would give way to fascination at this small, busy world to which I somehow felt I was privy.

I didn't know it then, but it was these formative experiences that have come to inform the curiosity and appreciation that I now, in my adult years, have for our native species and their preservation in our urban communities.

With my involvement in this project, it is my hope that I may help others in our community to cultivate a similar curiosity and appreciation, while doing my part in revitalizing the small, busy world of the pollinating bees, birds and butterflies which migrate through the urban spaces of southeastern Ontario, and the pollinator plants upon which they rely.

Thank you to my neighbour Dorte for her passion and initiative in bringing us together to create the Cliffcrest Butterflyway project! I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish, together as a community.



                                                                                                                       Founding member of                                                                                                                         Cliffcrest Butterflyway

                                                                                                                                                               As a bird watcher, nature lover,                                                                                                                                                       and hobby photographer

                                                                                                                                                            she contributed most of                                                                                                                                                 the photos and videos. 


Cythia VandenHoven

Contributing member of Cliffcrest Butterflyway

My rural southwestern Ontario childhood was full of long, hot summers laying in our unmanicured yard full of pinkish clover, dandelions galore and yellow bee-friendly birdsfoot trefoil. I have vivid memories of catching the friendly red nine-spotted ladybugs, daily sightings of monarchs and running from bees. Since settling in Cliffcrest, my yard has been a slow evolution towards a no-mow, drought-resistant garden, with milkweed and goldenrod growing at will. Each year, more fluttering monarchs, busy bugs & bees appear and birds can be found pecking away under my dense shrubs. My yard may look "overgrown" and is not as tended to as I would like but finding pollinators in my garden is a step in the right direction. Maybe one day the ladybugs will return.


Lisa Bunn

Contributing member of Cliffcrest Butterflyway

 I have lived in the Cliffcrest community for 22 years. I recall walking at Doris McCarthy trail in the month of September surrounded by butterflies gathering to begin their journey south. I have seen a decline in butterflies and bees over this time however last year a little milkweed on my front lawn helped them to appear.  And now, after my recent retirement from healthcare, I have the time to work with my neighbours (hopefully you) to create natural habitats for them to thrive. 

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Jennifer Fedak

Contributing member of Cliffcrest Butterflyway

I learned very young about the birds and the bees and I’m not referring to the kind of intimacy between two people but the intimacy between nature in of itself. How the soil is connected to plants, the plants to insects, then again to birds and so on. I learned of the beauty that crawls into a chrysalis and then reemerges only a short while later as something magnificent, a monarch butterfly. 
Every year as a kid my family would collect a few caterpillars, we would bring them home to raise with the milkweed we had in our front yard and I remember being able to identify them by their white, yellow and black stripes. My sisters and I were taught what they eat and learned about their life cycle from egg, to caterpillar to chrysalis then finally butterfly. We would count down the hours and minutes in the final moments after they hatched and dried their wings to watch them fly back to nature.
Our garden eventually dwindled away as we grew older, caught up with our own lives. The bees, the butterflies, even the birds slowly disappeared. I was 19 when it hit me, I realized how much nature had vanished and not just from my front yard. It was just a simple weekend project. Some flowers here and there. What at first was a single weekend turned into a fierce passion of a few hours a week. This soon again morphed into my now life long mission to help restore the dwindling life that we had forgotten about. Busy with our own lives we forget about the thing that binds us all to nature, life itself. 
My goal here is to help bring awareness to the species that bring food to our tables and flowers to our loved ones. I’m taking action in my community and beyond by doing my part to create a co-habitable life for the whole planet. This website is an amazing resource for those who want to start their own journeys and all it takes is one plant. For those who wish to get more involved or simply have a question please don’t hesitate to connect with us on Facebook, Instagram or by email.

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