Ashley McAllister, director of operations at Abbey Gardens, said the Haliburton destination has been a hive of activity this summer after opening a pair of new spaces to the public.

The site, which stretches over 300 acres along Hwy. 118, added a new community event space and designated digs for its Last Forest School and Eco Explorers Homeschool programs, in the spring. The structures were brought online courtesy of a $239,500 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF).

Klara Oyler, representing OTF, attended an official unveiling ceremony Aug. 28. Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott was also in attendance.

“Our mission remains simple – to help build healthier, more vibrant communities across Ontario,” Oyler said. “We are proud to support organizations like Abbey Gardens… we know the money will go a long way towards doing just that, now, and into the future.”

Oyler noted OTF invested more than $110 million into 1,022 non-profit-led community projects and partnerships last year. An agency of the provincial government, OTF has been supporting Ontario communities for more than 40 years, she added.

McAllister said the funding was “instrumental” in supporting Abbey Gardens in its efforts to rebuild and recover after three years of reduced revenue and programming due to the pandemic. She said the money went towards purchasing tents, trailer washrooms, and a storage facility, while taking care of site work and development of the spaces.

The new tent, located across from Haliburton Highlands Brewing, has played host to several events this year, including Abbey Gardens’ Easter extravaganza, Mother’s Day high tea, and more.

“We’ve hosted Juno award nominees and winners, such as Inuk singer and songwriter Susan Aglukark, Great Lake Swimmers, John McDermott, and many others. We also hosted internationally renowned Canadian comedian Ron James, provided a venue for Haliburton County Folk Society and Highland Opera Studio events, and have used the tent for weddings, anniversaries, and celebrations of life,” McAllister said.

She added the new educational space had allowed Abbey Gardens to “exponentially grow” its summer program calendar for youth.

The OTF investment is great news for our community… and is already paying off. It’s been a very busy year,” McAllister said.

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