Spring 2018 – ClearWater Farm’s Eco-gardens are taking shape in exciting new says thanks to funding from three noted supporters of the environment. The farm’s Trading Tree garden, anchored by the heritage-designated old maple, was conceptualized and created by partnership between two local schools, Sutton Public School and Waabgon Gamig First Nations School on Georgina Island. Now, with a $5-thousand sponsorship from the Region of York, the kids will be able to augment the plantings in the garden, that relies on rain runoff as its water source. This funding will allow the students to pick and plant more useful native plants in the garden to again assist in keeping Lake Simcoe healthy. The mission of the not-for-profit in Georgina is to help teach kids about food, the land and water to create the eco-champions of the future. Through their work in developing the original garden, the kids have come to clearly understand the connections between the flora and fauna of the area and its connections to the lake and creating habitats.
In addition to the students from those two schools, ClearWater Farm was able to secure funding from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation to expand the project to include a hügelkultur project adjacent to the Trading Tree garden. This 150 ft. X 50 ft. hügelkultur is also situated close to Lake Simcoe and sweeps in even more local students, these from a local Catholic high school to design, dig and plant the plot. Hugelkultur is a technique where a mound constructed from decaying wood debris and plant materials is planted as a raised bed to improve soil fertility and water retention. The method has been used for hundreds of years in Europe and by First Nations here in North America.
ClearWater Farm on the shores of Lake Simcoe is being revitalized as a place-based learning centre with projects that are for kids, BY kids. Educational principles of the programming flow directly from Ontario’s environmental education curriculum and First Nations traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) principles – always part of Ontario Water Centre’s practices.