It’s a project that would not only be an attraction for locals and visitors alike, but it would benefit both students and residents in need as well.
Staff at Muskoka Heritage Place (MHP) are seeking grant funding to add a greenhouse to the property which, in addition to growing produce to donate to a local food bank, would also provide teaching and workshop space.
The idea was proposed by the Muskoka Heritage Place Strategic Revitalization Working Group, comprised of Mayor Karin Terziano, Councillor Jonathan Wiebe, lay members Brian Crozier and David Woodall, and Town staff Ron Gostlin, Sara White, and Simone Babineau, and is attended by Deputy Mayor Nancy Alcock.
MHP manager Ron Gostlin shared proposed project details with Huntsville’s general committee at its April 28 meeting, where councillors expressed enthusiasm for the idea.
Councillor Wiebe noted that it would be a new way to engage local residents, who may only visit Muskoka Heritage Place when they have visitors from out of town.
The greenhouse would be placed between the Muskoka Museum at the property’s entrance and Cann Lake. The 1500 square-foot (60 ft. x 25 ft.) structure would include a year-round, climate-controlled classroom and programming area. Its heating and cooling system will be either solar or geothermal in-floor hydronic radiant, according to the staff report.
If staff are able to access grant funding by July, the greenhouse would be constructed this year. Otherwise, the project will be held until 2022.
The greenhouse, similar to the one pictured at right, would be located near the Muskoka Heritage Place entrance between the Muskoka Museum building and Cann Lake (pictured in green in the photo at left)
The greenhouse would be staffed by a part-time employee with the assistance of volunteers. Gostlin has also been in touch with the high school about using the facility for teaching.
David and Darryl Scott, both teachers at the high school, “preach and teach sustainable food options,” said Gostlin. “They’ve been lobbying for a facility like the one we’re proposing for years through the school board. They’re very interested in partnering with MHP and the Town on this project. I envision a shared use of the facility. They’d have a great teaching laboratory that would include crop maintenance which would go a long way to eventually offsetting some of our annual operating costs.”
If the project proceeds, MHP plans to offer community workshops on sustainable food sources, affordable home growing, and introducing gardening as a hobby and stress reliever. The greenhouse would also sell starter kits with seedlings, and any produce it manages to grow would be donated to the food bank.
The classroom space would be available to rent as a unique environment for other community workshops, meetings, or presentations.
The estimated construction cost of the project, to be funded via grants, is $230,000-$245,000.
Once the facility is complete, setup costs for soil, tools, and other supplies is estimated at $2,000. Annual operating costs, including labour, utilities, and seeds, is estimated at $14,900.
Gostlin said that the project isn’t expected to generate revenue through to the fall of 2022, and instead the focus in its first year would be on food production, program development, and volunteer recruitment.
Committee directed staff to apply for available grants to fund the project.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!