CLEARWATER FARM HISTORY
The history of ClearWater Farm and the greater community is specially honoured through our close working relationship with the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation. This relationship is symbolized by a 200 plus year-old maple tree overlooking the lake where settlers and local First Nations gathered to trade. The “Trading Tree” received Heritage Status in 2017, a children’s book in English and Ojibwe was published in 2019 by the Prince’s Trust.
The Ontario Water Centre’s roots as an educational charity began when Ladies of the Lake Conservation Association brought together 300+ Lake Simcoe citizens to create an action plan to help their ailing lake — “What is needed is a hub for innovation”.
2010 – 2014
A multi-disciplinary steering committee begins to plan the Ontario Water Centre as a hub for innovation. The new entity acquires charitable educational status in 2012. The Ladies of the Lake and the Water Level Alliance fold in their assets and programs.
The Town of Georgina leases to the Ontario Water Centre the 180-year-old Reed Farm to become an educational farm and a place for innovation. A business plan for ClearWater Farm and a Master Plan for the property are the first steps.
The transformation of the lakeside farm into a place for hands-on learning connecting land and water, past and future, arts and science begins. First up are permaculture gardens and preparations for summer camps for kids. And then in October 2016, the farm’s 112-year-old barn burns down…
Fundraising picks up pace, and with $3 million now raised from government and the private sector, weeklong summer camps for kids begin, a food basket program is launched, four greenhouses go up, rain gardens around the Trading Tree are built by young people, who also contribute to the planning the new all-seasons, fully accessible barn. It will be a place for performance, community events, kids cooking classes and much more.
Progress is now seen every day: highlights include a barn-raising that attracts timber framers from all over North America warmly welcomed by over 1,000 local people; a Toronto gala that raises awareness and $86,000 to add to the $7 million now raised. As 2018 closes, 15 jobs have been created and ClearWater is contributing over $750,000 annually to the local economy.
Farming is moving closer to break-even. RBC helps launch a five-year program to help grads of farm college develop into young agri-preneurs. Educational programming is expanding to include new programs for parents/tots, and family weekends. Video programming is in production to allow 1000s of kids to share the ClearWater experience. The biodigester is being hooked up to power the greenhouses and vehicles. This new website consolidates the ClearWater and Ontario Water Centre brands, and fundraising continues to support ClearWater’s potential.
ClearWater Farm was highlighted as one of the Lieutenant Governor’s “100 Stories of Sustainability”
2020 – 2021
The Covid-19 pandemic hits. Construction on the new barn slows, but progress ramps up in other areas on and off the farm. Our Basket program takes off as people look for new ways to get fresh food without going to the grocery story. Our community came out in droves to support our Share Your Food program, helping us donate over 1000 baskets of farm fresh food to families in need. We moved our kids programming online, launching clearwaterkids.org allowing children all over the world to visit the virtual ClearWater farm, with this interactive website designed to inspire the young people in your life to put down their devices — or at least take them outside — and enjoy getting to know nature. We finish the 2021 season with a hugely successful Open House welcoming all to explore the property again!
With pandemic restrictions lifting, we open up the farm for Summer Saturdays inviting the community to explore the farm, support local vendors, enjoy an art or yoga experience and so much more. By the end of the summer, barn construction is near completion and our new space is enjoyed by donors at our Raise the Roof Gala. It is now the ClearWater Barn Supported by Longos. Preparations begin to start holding community programming and taking event rentals. On the farming side, the biodigester begins to take food waste from local grocery stores to create renewable energy and soil enhancements.
Over $200K in grants received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation will provide us with the ability to finish the parking lot- expanding our capacity for community events and develop land-based educational programs for kids. Both will have a great impact on the farm for years to come.
2023 is set to be our most exciting year yet! Be apart of it and consider supporting us here.
- Ontario Water Centre Pre-feasibility Study, 2010
- Ontario Water Centre Business Plan synopsis, 2014
- ClearWater Farm as a Future Pillar of the Local Food Economy, 2015
- ClearWater at the Reed Farm Master Plan, 2016
- ClearWater Farm Educational Programming Framework, 2016
- Trending Towards a Local Food Economy in Georgina, 2016
- Rebirth of the ClearWater Farm Barn, 2017
- Growing Connections: Youth Programming Report, 2018
- ClearWater Barn as an Arts Destination, 2019