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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.

CW farm

2006

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”.

OWC - Ladies Of The Lake

2010 – 2016

A multi-disciplinary steering committee begins to plan the Ontario Water Centre as a hub for innovation, acquiring charitable educational status in 2012. In 2014, the Town of Georgina leases to the Ontario Water Centre the 180-year-old Reed Farm to become a place where kids can grow.  A business plan for the newly named 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. Until October 2016, when the farm’s 112-year-old barn tragically burns down…

Barn on fire

2017 – 2019

Refusing to let tragedy stop progress, fundraising picks up pace, 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 of the new all-seasons, fully accessible barn. It will be a place for performance, community events, kids cooking classes and much more. In 2018, we welcomed timber framers from all over North America for a barn-raising ceremoney; and a  Toronto gala raises awareness and brings the total raised to $7 million.  As 2018 closes, 15 jobs have been created and ClearWater is contributing over $750,000 annually to the local economy.

With farming 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 resources for parents/tots, and family weekends. Video programming is in production to allow 1000s of kids to share the ClearWater experience. 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!

2022

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.

Raise the Roof Gala: September 10th, 2022

Guests seated at the 2022 Raise the Roof Barn Gala at ClearWater Farm

On a warm September evening under the Harvest Moon, friends of ClearWater Farm and the Ontario Water Centre gathered for the official unveiling of the new ClearWater Barn and Historic Walkway! Thanks to funding from the Government of Canada and the Heritage Grant, we were able to open up the doors to this magical place for the first time. Stories were shared, connections were made, and together we were able to raise the remaining amount of money needed to add the finishing touches!

ClearWater Barn is now ready for community programming, educational trips, and events in 2023.

Historic Documents