Healthy Communities YMCA Camps and Outdoor Education

People power helped Cedar Glen’s organic farm

Campers help on the organic farm

The 2016 growing season will be a remembered as a tough one for years to come. One word can describe the hardship: drought. There was not enough rain to allow seeds to germinate, seedlings to grow bigger, and vegetables to get plump. Everything on the farm was under pressure — farmers and crops alike.

Fortunately for the organic farm at Cedar Glen Outdoor Centre, our farmers were backed by support  from hundreds of people throughout the 2016 growing season. At the beginning of the season, many corporate volunteers helped us set up the farm. They installed our drip irrigation — long plastic tubes that distribute water directly on the soil. Thousands of feet of drip irrigation was set up in a matter of hours, and turned out to be the only input of water on the farm for several weeks.

Farm campers got their hands wet to bring water to plants during their weeklong visit to Cedar Glen. Watering cans in hand, they filled up and carried the weight of the water all the way to their garden, where they found really thirsty plants.

One could say that drip irrigation and watering cans saved the vegetables, but the people who came out and worked hard were the real deal. And the support didn’t stop when the rain started again; help kept coming in the fall, especially with students from the YMCA Academy, who closed up the farm with us. They put the drip tape away, so we can store it safely and have it ready for this year.

If the drought is what most farmers will remember from 2016, we will remember that the Cedar Glen Organic Farm was resilient because we are a community farm. Yes, we managed to grow 1.3 tonnes of vegetables for our kitchen, but most importantly, we had hundreds of people who became farmers for a day to make it happen.

Organic farm field