Demonstrating the Connection Between Sustainable Agriculture and Community Resilience
Like farming, land and water stewardship is a long-term commitment. It takes time, care and sometimes even a whole community to make it happen. Everdale Farm knows all about commitment and community. Located just outside Hillsburgh, Everdale is one of Canada’s oldest non-profit community farms and a long-time Credit River Watershed steward.
Karen Campbell and Gavin Dandy co-founded Everdale Farm in 1996. Since then, Everdale has trained about 200 young regenerative farmers, hosted over 30,000 school children learning about the connections between food and ecosystems, supported the development of several urban farm communities, and produced millions of kilograms of fresh, organic food for the surrounding community. Everdale has become an integral part of the local food system, sharing a portion of the harvest each year with their food bank partners East Wellington Community Services, Orangeville Food Bank, Shelldale Community Centre, and the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre.
The productive partnership between Everdale and Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) began in 2006, when the CVC helped map out a forest trail near the Provincially Protected Wetlands located on the southern border of the farm.
In 2016, the partnership grew when CVC and Everdale began restoring natural areas of the property to support the regenerative principles that guide the farm, as well as reduce the farm’s environmental impact. With support from CVC, Everdale has planted innovative cover crops, restored forest edges, planted hedgerows and reforested a part of the property.
For its next big project, Everdale is working with CVC and Ducks Unlimited to restore a wetland that previously existed on the property.
These projects benefit both the farm and the surrounding community. Trees help reduce soil erosion, protect against crop damage from extreme wind and help absorb and more evenly disperse rainwater. Trees also provide food and shelter for beneficial insects, birds and other wildlife. Similarly, wetlands provide vital habitat for aquatic plants and animals, as well as many insects and birds. They are great at sequestering carbon and are critical to reducing community flood risk.
Karen Campbell, Everdale’s farm manager, believes that partnerships like the one between CVC and Everdale are an important pathway to a healthier future. “We’re so excited about the restoring those wetlands and creating richer habitat. We always love working with the CVC. They totally get the connection between ecological health and local regenerative farms like Everdale. Farmers want to do what’s right for our shared ecological wealth. Sometimes we just need a helping hand, and CVC has always been there for us.”
Campbell is the co-winner of the 2023 Most Influential Women in Canadian Agriculture Award. Gavin Dandy, her husband, won the CVC’s Watershed Excellence Award in 2019.
Through its stewardship projects, Everdale continues to deliver on its mission to build food and community resilience. Its stewardship projects will continue to give back to the community for generations to come, just like the knowledge passed down between generations of farmers.
Learn more about Everdale Farm and register to volunteer at one of their Community Harvest Days.
If you want to learn more about restoring natural areas on your farm, connect with us.