After days of rain (and nail-biting on the part of Growing for Green organizers), the clouds suddenly parted and the sun kindly decided to make a guest appearance on September 22, 2011 in honour of the second annual Harvest Festival in the Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard.
Earlier that afternoon, a tour group of about 25 participants visited, and were guided through an informative tour of the Orchard by our coordinator and co-founder, Susan Poizner. It was just one of 12 City-to-Country tours held by Sustain Ontario to explore various themes on urban agriculture. Our kudos to organizer Carolyn Young for including Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard, which was a fresh, new place to many on the tour, and for managing this large-scale project.
By 4 p.m., literally hundreds of kids had already descended on the playground area when our wandering fiddler, Barry’s Bay, Ontario resident, Ken Ramsden (email@example.com), officially heralded in the festival. His delightful jigs soon had some people kicking up their heels and dancing right alongside him as he played. Orchard trees draped with gorgeous fruit art, by head gardener and mural artist Sherry Firing, set the scene along with tents and our backdrop of fall-themed decor complete with scarecrows and chrysanthemums. These colourful displays were fully embraced and saw many kids scampering up and planting themselves atop our hay bales and posing for pictures in what turned out to be the perfect fall photo opp.
Of course, the food table was quickly overflowing with visitors eager to sample the wonderful feast of party sandwiches from Nortown Foods and fresh fruit bounty from the local market. Not Far from the Tree displayed their huge cider press and gave expert cider making instructions while helping us distribute apple juice to thirsty onlookers. Children sprouted up like weeds around Garden Jane as she plowed through her hands-on chia herb salad and fruit drink making sessions. Also abuzz were the Toronto Beekeeper’s Cooperative with people swarming their table to get a close-up look at the live bees in the demo hive they brought – it was a great reminder that we wouldn’t have fruit without these natural pollinators! In our Orchard tours, both Debra Anthony and I talked about both self and cross-pollinating varieties and the role our Pollinator Garden plays. In case you missed them and wanted to learn more, make sure you sign up for our e-newsletter so you’ll get all the info on upcoming workshops.
New this year, our Loonie Raffle table saw a steady stream of ticket buyers as teen performer Camille Belair captivated passersby with her classical guitar repertoire. Later, a large group gathered to watch a group from Classical Martial Arts as they performed a martial arts demo. The crowd remained as one of our organizers, Leanne Moss, started the draw and the many excited, lucky winners eagerly claimed their amazing prizes. Many thanks to the Upper Village BIA, everyone who donated items, and to Transcontinental Media for providing the stacks of Canadian Gardening and Homemakers magazines. All in all, our administrator and volunteer coordinator Lynn Nicholas was pleased to report that we raised about $337 dollars, which will help Growing for Green continue to provide wonderful community events like this one.
Thanks to everyone who joined us on this special day. We couldn’t have done it without the support of Live Green Toronto, Walmart Evergreen, and the help of Joe Mihevc and his office as they helped us navigate all the paperwork, the City of Toronto, and Parks, Forestry and Recreation who were there to set up and take down. And we must give a special thanks to all the volunteers who came out to assist us throughout the day. A great time was had by all. Until next time, hope to see you again in the Orchard.