By Jenn Watt
Published Oct 9 2018
After buying the old Victoria Street School in Haliburton in 2013 staff at Community Living Trent Highlands wanted to take the space already known and beloved by the local population and share it.
They began to think about how to use the large corner lot to bring community members in.
They started with a few garden plots. Community Living kept two for their clients and the rest were open to anyone who wanted a place to grow their own food.
“People can come here and spend time and have their garden” said Teresa Jordan CEO of Community Living Trent Highlands.
The program has been popular; all of the plots are used each year with a waiting list for new gardeners.
Last fall United Way for City of Kawartha Lakes and Community Living held an event called a Day of Caring. People pitched in to build several more garden plots some of them elevated off the ground to improve accessibility. They have also installed a walking path built a fence to prevent deer and other critters from getting in erected a small greenhouse and put up a gazebo.
On Friday Oct. 5 representatives of several United Way member agencies came to check out the results of all the hard work.
Jordan estimates about $5000 was spent on the expansion with plenty of in-kind donations and volunteer labour.
Penny Barton Dyke executive director of United Way for CKL was at the event and pointed out that food security is one of the focuses of her organization.
More than 100 garden beds have been created in City of Kawartha Lakes through United Way she said including 18 at the United Way office. They’ve started a Veggies for Vets program and hope to approach the Legion branches in Haliburton County about putting in community gardens on-site.
Aside from their garden projects United Way also funds children’s programs through their LCBO “At the Till” campaign which have raised nearly $75000 in three years. The money has been distributed to Food for Kids Big Brothers Big Sisters and EarlyON.
Their most recent campaign wrapped up on Oct. 7.
Barton Dyke said gardens help improve neighbourhoods and that in places they’ve been built “often it’s really united people” who become watchful of the sites.
A subgroup of United Way called Women United paid for the greenhouse which will be made available to Community Living gardening groups.