Looking to the farm to anchor community-wide efforts and re-envision the local food economy through education and events
ClearWater Farm, a historic property on Lake Simcoe, was once owned by an early settler family for over 180 years. It is now leased to the Ontario Water Centre by Town of Georgina. OWC is an educational charity whose mission is: ‘Inspired by water, we exist to deepen young peoples’ connection with the natural environment, marrying the arts, science and technology to cultivate a more sustainable future.’ The farm now acts an educational hub for people of all ages.
Their goal is to show how growing healthy food is also good for the surrounding land, water, local economy and community fabric.
Colin Dobell, Executive Director of the Ontario Water Centre, says they see a lot of visits “motivated by school age kids visiting our site for our educational programming, and then coming back with parents/family on a Friday or Saturday to explore, or to consider volunteering on the farm or in our weekend Clearwater Foresters program.”
Spend two minutes on the property and you’ll instantly see why! The farm is only open Friday and Saturday afternoons, “but that doesn’t stop them from dropping by other times” says Colin. “People are curious, they want to see the farm and we’ll show them around”
“Folks can visit our farm stand which sells organically-grown vegetables from the farm, as well as other selected local producers. They can walk the grounds or get a tour and visit the nearby shoreline park to swim in or simply experience Lake Simcoe.”
The property is quite unique as far as agritourism goes. There’s an outdoor kitchen, wild spaces with walking trails, a children’s garden and food hub on site. Last year, they built a new, traditional timber framed barn – in addition to their operating greenhouses. Next on the agenda is a planned biodigester.
In the fields and greenhouses, you’ll find tomatoes, radishes, eggplants, shisito peppers, beans, kale – even pearl oyster mushrooms grown on inoculated logs in the wooded areas. Much of the produce goes into Clearwater’s CSA boxes, distributed to drop spots throughout the GTA. Most, but not all. For the lucky few who make it out to the farm – it’s unforgettable.
“Georgina is an ideal location because it is simultaneously close to the GTA, but also far enough away to maintain a rural feel” says Colin. “We call it ‘the Near North’. Georgina has more lakeshore, more green, tree cover, more agricultural land, etc. than any other municipality in the GTA.”
Find out more about Clearwater Farm and their 2019 programs at clearwaterfarms.ca