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. Please consider helping 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