Try to imagine a smaller size of the Royal Botanical Gardens (Hamilton) or a section of the Butchart Gardens (Vancouver Island) but with spectacular displays of a diverse collection of edible plants that can be grown successfully in our region in a way that demonstrates sustainable, organic food production and invites tourism in support of the bourgeoning local food marketplace and food-based tourism.
Think of the following:
-Esplanades of flowering fruit and nut trees
-Sunflower teaching huts
-Colourful fountains and open celebration and event spaces
-Composting, water retention, and solar collection demonstration areas
-Alternative building demonstrations
-Rooms of displays involving the designs of regional artists
-Edible flower displays
-Apiary (beekeeping) interpretive space
-hands on gardening experiences
THESE ARE OUR GOALS...and they are only under development in our early years. But bear with us.
The project ideas are seemingly endless but they are all open to student participation from preschool to the aged. We would hope to be able to work closely with the Specialist High Skills programs throughout the Blue Water District School Board and all interested residents to enable them to develop their skills whether it be in sustainable, local food production, construction, tourism, horticulture/landscaping, hospitality or the environment.
From a programming perspective, we envision the creation of a unique edible garden that can be marketed to larger urban centres and a wide range of interest groups:
-Sustainability schools and transition towns (http://transitiontowns.org)
-Urban agriculture students
-Students of alternative building techniques
The Gardens can:
-Provide for business development opportunities in the areas of agri-tourism and edutourism, food processing, and diversified agricultural as well as hospitality, catering, restaurant services and special events planning
-Development of a Youth Swap (city youth come to experience rural agriculture, rural youth go to city to experience urban agriculture which is vastly different)
-Gardening/crafting and reskilling workshops
-Work with the elementary schools-nutrition and reskilling to develop agricultural interest
-Work with youth at risk –similar to The Garden Project in California-It has been touted to be one of the best programs in the US for working with youth at risk (Read more about it at http://www.gardenproject.org/)
-Adult redirection (helping the under- or unemployed get back on their feet)
-Provide opportunities for Senior Activities and importantly a venue for Seniors to share/teach their life experiences in agriculture and sustainable lifestyle.
-Develop a Transition Town food production demonstration site (visit: http://www.transitiontowns.org/)
-Expansion of Culinary use of a wider variety of plants: create markets for farmers to start to diversify their crops
-Farm Market Gift Shop:
-Use of plants as a recreational opportunity by creating labyrinths and mazes as well as specialty crafting
-Special Events: culinary extravaganzas, garden parties, etc.
-Showcase for local talent: artists, musicians, culinary artists
-Support/develop the Good Food Box, Meals on Wheels, and Soup Kitchen programs
-Development of regional festivals/gardenshows/ and importantly, culinary festivals and workshops
-Outdoor film fests and regional travelogues
-Opportunity for Memorial Donation programs
-Apiary and beneficial insect interpretation centre
-Community Activity Area
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