By: Michelle Poirier
Clearwater Farm in Willow Beach has seen sales for their food baskets triple, hiring 14 people this season to keep up with the demand.
Annabel Slaight, Founder and Chair of the Board of Clearwater Farm, said while they have had new hires, they’re lucky to have seasonal employees from Georgina return year after year, even during a pandemic.
“Clearwater Farm is, in a sense, getting into stride for what it was meant to do, which is ironical, but we’re excited to see the role that we can play during the pandemic,” she said.
Clearwater Farm is a charitable and educational flagship project by Ontario Water Centre, focused on helping connect people to the land, water, food and community.
Sarah, a resident of Georgina, started her fourth season at Clearwater Farm this year. After spending the past two seasons working with children in the education program, she has moved back to working with the farming team.
“It’s been good, and I’m very thankful that I have work. I’m very thankful for this opportunity, even though it isn’t with the kids at the farm,” she said.
Sarah has taken the lead in ensuring that all of the COVID-19 protocols are followed in the farming and packing areas of the property.
While it can be challenging to navigate, she said everyone is practicing social distancing and sanitizing frequently touched surfaces to make sure everything goes out to the community in a safe way.
Clearwater Farm has launched a program called Share Your Food. This program allows people who are ordering fresh food baskets for themselves to donate and help get similar food baskets to families in need.
“So much of how we get through this horrible dilemma is through the kindness of neighbours and thinking of others,” Ms. Slaight said.
To keep up with growing demand for their food baskets, Clearwater Farm also sources produce from other local farms, including organic growers.
The farms within Georgina include Howard Farms, which supply eggs, carrots and maple syrup; Hiveshare, a producer of unpasteurized, artisanal honey; Homestead Orchards which grows asparagus, apples and strawberries, and The Cutting Veg, which specializes in organic garlic.
The farms outside of Georgina that supply produce include Lunar Rhythm Gardens (Janetville), Zephyr Organics (Zephyr) Barrie Hill Farms (Barrie), and Nith Valley Organics (New Dundee).
“We are very grateful for the supportive relationships we have with other local farms. We always source as local as possible for our food basket program,” said Jennifer Harrison, Director of Communications and Development for Clearwater Farm.
The Clearwater Farm property is closed to the public, but you can visit www.clearwaterkids.org for a virtual farm visit and www.clearwaterfarm.ca for more information on upcoming projects, ordering food baskets, and the Share Your Food program.