About Our Farm

Our Farm is located on 10 acres of property on the edge of Waterloo. We use organic growing practices to grow food on over 1/3 of an acre, and everything we grow is provided free of charge to the people we work for. This decreases the cost of groceries and gives people access to fresh veggies for more than 6 months of the year. Any left-over produce is then donated to other community organizations.

The idea blossomed in 2011, and since the first seeds were planted in 2013, every growing season has been different. The mission of Our Farm, however, remains the same:  To connect people to the land, food, and each other through sustainable agriculture.

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Our Farm is an unfunded program at KW Habilitation. It is only with generous donations and grants that Our Farm has been able to grow since 2011.

Aerial view of KW Habilitation's Our Farm.

Trails

We have a 1.2km accessible trail located at 995 Erbsville Road that is open to the public! Opened in 2020, the trail connects our community to the work we do here, at KW Habilitation.

Plan your visit: There are no washrooms or garbage facilities.  Please use the “Leave No Trace” principles when visiting.

Parking: Please park close to the trail head and away from the residence.

Other things to note:  Please stay clear of the Our Farm garden beds. You’ll have a great view, but we ask that you leave them so they can grow to their full potential.

Enjoy!

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KW Habilitation's Our Farm student volunteer smiling beside cart of fresh cut flowers grown at Our Farm.

How to get involved: Volunteering at Our Farm

Our Farm would not be successful without the amazing volunteers who help every single year. Our volunteers help us in preparing gardens for spring planting, maintaining gardens by weeding, watering, mulching, harvesting, and preparing gardens for fall and winter. Our Farm Volunteers are motivated and seek to make a difference in access to fresh produce for the people we work for and help us to provide free and delicious food for our community.  If you’re interested in volunteering at the farm, please email our volunteer coordinator at[email protected] 

Corporate Days of Giving

Our Farms has hosted many corporate groups since we started growing in 2011. Groups that have participated have been wonderful and productive in the gardens. Many tasks have been completed during this time such as spreading ten yards of compost, mulch moving, harvesting, painting a shed, planting and so much more. 

Companies that have participated noted that employees gave back to the community and felt good enriching peoples lives by their contributions to the gardens.  Our corporate days of giving have helped to bring teams together and improve morale, and for us, it has been a huge benefit to get big jobs done quickly! 

Connect about Volunteering by emailing our volunteer coordinator at: [email protected]

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Two students from the University of Waterloo volunteering on Our Farm. Student on left is tossing soil in the air with a shovel while smiling. Student behind on the right is watching them and smiling.
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History of Our Farm

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In 2011, a group of community volunteers approached KW Habilitation with the idea of turning their 8-acre property of farmland, located at their David Fisher Residence (DFR) into a productive organic farm. 

 

Excited by the possibilities, KW Hab agreed, and the Our Farm partnership was formed. The mission of this new initiative was to build a community of people connected to the land, food, and each other through sustainable agriculture.

 

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Over the next two years, plans started to grow. Seed and infrastructure funding was secured from Trillium. Tools, a storage container, seeds, row covering and other tools were purchased.

 

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In the 2013 growing season, one-fourth acre of the farmland was cultivated with twenty different vegetables. This was maintained by three volunteers. 

The production was poor and it was determined that the soil had been depleted of nutrients from previous farming practices. Evaluating the season, the volunteers realized that KW Hab should establish a permanent position for a coordinator to better connect KW Hab to the land.

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In 2014 a full time Our Farm coordinator was hired, and the Our Farm production was expanded to 115 University Avenue location., the Urban farm location. For the first couple of years at this site KW Hab teamed up with Young City Growers, a grassroots initiative creating urban agricultural opportunities for youth to farm the space. This creative project not only promoted social inclusion but built capacity through knowledge exchange and training. 

The urban site has about 7,000 square feet that has been cultivated and used for food production. Raised beds were built to accommodate all people who had the desire to garden no matter the barrier they had. A sensory garden was also installed for those wanting to stimulate their senses. This is also the home of Our Farm office.

 

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Our Farm continued to grow each year. In 2015 we secured an environmental grant from the Region of Waterloo and work was able to be continued at the DFR site. Knowing the soil was heavily depleted at the site it was determined that key lines and berms were necessary for water retention. Seeing the present cover crop in the fields were a good indication as the blend of twelve different plants were doing poorly in some spots and very lush in other and dying in high areas. After receiving the grant, the work began. In August of 2015 the field was mowed, laser work completed, and the berms and key lines were installed. By October considerable improvement was noticed due to improved water management in the field.

 

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In 2016, Our Farm was the recipients of a cost sharing grant for tree planting from Grand River conservation authority. 

 

In April of 2016, a windbreak was planted along Kressler Road. We planted 96 Norway spruce trees! Also planted were red oaks, sugar maples and white cedars. One of the unique aspects of the plantings from the Grand River Conservation are that the seeds were gleaned located and grown for the conservation. It makes the planting native to our DFR site. Also planted were hazelnuts, elderberry shrubs, blueberry shrubs and Saskatoon shrubs.

 

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In 2017, 15 bird houses were erected throughout the acreage hoping to bring back black capped chickadees, eastern bluebirds, and tree swallows to the area. Boxes were made by a local bird ornithophile and painted by people supported by KW Habilitation. Reforestation of the lower part of the property was completed as well with 720 white pine, 200 white cedar, and 170 European larch trees (170)

Continued success every year has been noted by the presence of these birds and the nesting we see in the bird houses.

 

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Work continued throughout 2018. Raspberry bushes, apple trees and a gazebo was installed. In 2018 and 2019, weekly market events were held at the main administration building at KW Habilitation.  This was an opportunity for our inclusive living homes to pick up their free vegetables and for community members to purchase the excess crop.  

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2020 Our Farm received another grant from the Region of Waterloo and a 1 km AODA accessible trails was completed throughout the acreage. Benches were installed at key areas of the trail.  We suspended our weekly markets and provided a regular pick up date for all inclusive living homes to collect their food.  All of our excess food was donated to local community partner organizations.

 

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In 2021 Our Farm did tree replacement due to mortality from heavy deer damage to the trees through the wintertime. In 2021 100 Woman Who Care made a large donation to the Our Farm program for equipment in the garden and more storage.

 

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In 2022, a new walk behind tractor was purchased and new Shed was erected at the DFR site. Also completed was signage on the trail for walkers to note key information about the acreage.

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In 2023, we installed irrigation lines at our Rural site. This literally changed everything.  A job that usually took someone two days to complete is now done in an afternoon and we’ve noticed a real improvement in our yield!