Your Questions Answered

…about the farm, the Town’s plans, and the Water Centre’s plans:

 

How will ClearWater at the Reed Farm stimulate the economy?

The Farm will generate direct jobs, and through educational programs stimulate new business opportunities such as SPIN Farming (Small Plot Intensive Farming), food production working with The Link, GTTI and other organizations, to developing training programs and employment opportunities. There will be a focus on youth and developing their skills and aptitudes.

Will the Farm have a farmers’ market?

There’s a lot of interest right now in Georgina in various approaches to Farmers’ Markets, such as rotational locations as or full-on experiences that include artisans, music etc. ClearWater will participate in this thinking.

Are you competing with other organizations or farmers?

We are not in competition with others, but rather we are here to help the economy and the environment through significant collaboration. We hope to shine a light on the value of farming in this area that will, in turn, generate greater interest in local produce.

What do you think the neighbours feel about what you are doing?

The more people know about the unique experiences we will be creating, the more questions and interest in our project we receive. People seem genuinely excited.

I live in nearby yet I don’t know anything about what is going on!

Over 5,000 people have been involved in social media efforts to encourage interest and we have created radio ads, posters and invite cards. So word is getting out. We are always seeking better ways to connect with people.

What is the timeline of the Reed Farm? When is it opening?

Ontario Water Centre is going into a significant fund-raising mode for the farm for least a year.

What is happening to the rest of the land?

The Town has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to invite bids to farm the balance of the property in keeping with best farming practices. An Environmental Farm Plan has been created by the Water Centre in consultation with OMAFRA to articulate these best practices.

What about the idea of a palliative care centre that was discussed a while back?

Current land use policies and zoning for the property do not currently permit this use. At this time the appropriateness of changing the zoning and land use policies has not been evaluated. Local, Regional and Provincial policies generally direct these types of uses to the urban areas where community facilities and amenities are easier to access.

What will the total cost be of the start-up and maintenance of the ClearWater Farm?

This is part of the budget in the business plan downloadable on this site. The capital costs for which we will raise funds are currently estimated at $2.5 million.

What structures will there be?

We will be using the main floor of the Farmhouse for a professional demonstration kitchen with seating for approximately 40 people. The top of the Garage would be used for learning/ meeting spaces (rentable by local groups). The ground floor of the Garage would be a commercial artisanal kitchen for food production. The Barn would not be touched at this point as it will be an expensive renovation.

Who will operate the Farm?

The day to day working of the property will be the responsibility of a Farm Manager; and a Property Manager. The land would be used for a variety of collaborations with a range of organizations large and small. Sponsors will be welcomed as well.

Have you investigated a partnership with the OHA (Ontario Horticultural Association)? I see garden clubs coming to tour, bus trips etc, youth groups coming for educational workshops etc. Perhaps programs offered to members and non-members?

We are considering all of these types of activities and are extremely interested in partnerships. We have already reached out to schools and colleges. We encourage anyone who has an idea about potential partnerships –both obvious and not so obvious – to share their thoughts.

Will renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal) projects be explored at the farm?

Yes.

Is there going to be a Splash Pad like at the ROC?

No.

Do you plan on housing livestock in the barn?

We have no immediate plans for the barn, however we do know that there are some innovative ideas such as using goats and pigs to clear land as part of farming best practices.

How will you deal with bringing increased traffic to the area and parking?

We are exploring bringing a laneway in from Metro Road as we grow so as not to disturb the peace of Lake Drive. For onsite parking, we are exploring using various innovations for parking lots such as capturing rainwater – in this case from the barn, garage and house for a cistern system located under the parking area. We will also be demonstrating different kinds of porous surfaces.

Are you still brainstorming ideas on what can happen there?

We are always brainstorming about what can happen there. But we have some roots down now – incubating new kinds of agriculture combined with and food production as our means of earning our way. We always welcome input on what can happen and this will continue once we are on the Farm as well. This Farm is part of Georgina, and it is for Georgina.

What if any, are the obstacles to this vision?

There are likely millions of obstacles, but we can’t focus on these. We are, however, being very careful about where we put our feet down as we move forward.

Can I buy a plot?

Small plots are part of the business plan, in fact, today we had a draw for the very first small plot at our Splash of Spring!

Are you involving students?

We are exploring many ways for students to become part of the farm; possibly through curriculum, as well as employment opportunities.

Will the shoreline be part of the farm? Will the lakeshore remain intact?

The lakefront is a very interesting part of this property. It looks a bit like British Columbia out there with its large rocks and trees and it is one of the last untouched shorelines on Lake Simcoe. It is noted at this time the shoreline is not part of the land parcel being leased to the OWC. However, in the future it may be possible to work with the Town, the LSRCA and other agencies through the ReWilding program to explore how to leave the shoreline intact while providing greater access to connect people with Lake Simcoe.

The Ladies of the Lake, who are very involved in this project, were instrumental in the formation of the Lake Simcoe Protection Act and Plan. Will there be any connection between the Ontorio Water Centre and this legislation?

Lake Simcoe watershed residents are extremely fortunate to have this Act and Plan — a first in North America, and the first also in bringing citizens, business, and government together through “shared responsibility”. The work of the Ontario Water Centre, founded by the Ladies of the Lake,  is very connected to this Plan. In particular, the recognition that people and nature are equal partners in the future of Lake Simcoe.

If the Town is leasing property to the water centre are there other arrangements like this out there?

There are many project across the country that are the result of not for profit and public partnerships. Examples of such projects include housing co-ops to those with similar similar foci such as the Evergreen Brickworks and the Wychwood Barns in Toronto.

Locally, there is the Cultural Centre in Aurora and the GTTI in Georgina . Collaborative agreements like this arise when it is deemed that a charitable organization and a government entity such as a municipality can deliver greater results together than on their own. There are many examples like this that could help shape the terms of the OWC lease.

Why is a water centre doing stuff on a farm?

Many kinds of innovation are needed to restore the relationship between people and nature in ways that will help the lake. As 76% of the world’s fresh water is used for farming, what better place could there be than a farm to grow new ideas?  ClearWater will be a low-maintenance eco-friendly “campus” exploring new thinking about ways of using water wisely. But if that sounds a bit earnest, OWC also believes that fun is an essential ingredient of success. Everything on the farm will look and feel good and inspire new ways of doing things that will extend beyond the Farm.

So what is the Ontario Water Centre anyway?

OWC is a new community organization with charitable status that envisions the entire Lake Simcoe watershed being a 21st century laboratory. It believes that greater community co-operation can brighten the future of both our waterscapes and our own lives. See more on this website, www.ontariowatercentre.ca