Above Haliburton Home School students helped launch the newly opened Enchanted Forest with a ribbon cutting ceremony in June 2017 on the Abbey Gardens property./DARREN LUM Staff

Community responds to restore Enchanted Forest

By Sue Tiffin

Published May 26 2020

Wooden board games a shelving unit a load of white gravel and a rotary phone: these are a few of the things the Enchanted Forest at Abbey Gardens needs to help recreate a magical children’s play area after vandalism caused the space to close last September.
The Enchanted Forest was officially opened in June of 2017 but staff and the community were saddened by damage last fall to the outdoor site that included plastic canvasses in the art gallery being ripped stained glass stepping stones being smashed a repurposed slide being dislodged and cracked and books from the site’s lending library torn and left in muddy water. The person or people who caused the damage have not been found.

Now the community is jumping at the chance to help restore all play areas and signage so the site can be reopened.
The area was developed by kids for kids said Heather Reid operations director at Abbey Gardens who noted the organization’s homeschool group spent time over the winter brainstorming ideas for the Enchanted Forest so that when it re-opens it will include surprises for those who were already familiar with the popular area.
“Since it opened we have seen so much use by all kinds of families in our community” said Reid. “It is a safe place for kids to explore on their own and experience nature at their own pace. This is so important to forming connections with our environment.”

A call put out for help through the organization’s e-newsletter had been met with a “wonderful community response” said Reid to help reconstruct and decorate areas in the Enchanted Forest area that include a theatre in the woods construction zone wishing well and nest.
To date the Enchanted Forest restoration project has received a $5000 donation from the 100 Women Who Care group; Ian Thompson from A Finer Finish has made a puppet theatre for the Theatre in the Woods; Dan and Cara Steele have made a tickle trunk a child’s construction work bench and a fence to separate the construction zone and the wishing well; Shannon Blanchard of Grahams’ Farm Market has donated containers and a bread box; Laura Oeser has donated two coffee tables and a wicker set; Sandy Moffatt has donated knitted hand puppets; Ron Reid has donated items that include screws maple syrup buckets and noise makers and Kelsey Redman has donated hanging gems.
“We are so appreciative of the support expressed by the community when the vandalism occurred … and the ongoing efforts and ideas to restore it and make it better” said Reid. “Thank you thank you thank you.”

A list of items needed is posted on the Abbey Gardens Facebook page or interested readers can email irene@abbeygardens.ca. The Haliburton Lions have listed items they are currently looking for at https://www.haliburtonlions.com/lionism-in-the-news.