There's a surprising lot of interesting stuff going on around here, and this space is devoted to discovering and sharing it. We'll post regular updates on merchants, activities and events. Look in often and soon you'll see why Meaford calls itself "The other Big Apple".

posted September 13th, 2014
Need seeds? Got seeds? Check out Meaford’s seed bank

Last week, we talked a bit about Meaford’s community gardens. Meaford’s also lucky to have a seed library housed, appropriately, in the history room of the Meaford Public Library.

What’s a seed library? Just like a book library, you may “borrow” seeds to use in your garden. And when it’s time to harvest, you donate seeds from your bounty back to the library. (You can also donate commercial seed packets.)

The initial collection came from more than 700 vegetable and flower seed packets donated by Metro Grocery to Golden Town Outreach, and it will continue to grow as each season produces more new growth and seeds.

Just drop into the library to find out more.

posted September 6th, 2014
Meaford community gardens great for gardeners and the community

Small community garden plots were on the list of desired features at Meaford Haven for many of our virtual focus group respondents . But in Meaford, community gardening opportunities abound.

Three years ago, a group of citizens created Meaford’s first community garden at Georgian Bay Secondary School (GBSS), with the goal of education and developing the skills required to produce quality, fresh, locally-grown foods and encouraging people to enjoy it as part of their everyday diet.

Transition Meaford, Golden Town Outreach (GTO) and the students and teachers at GBSS collaborated on the project, and a year later they opened up space for private gardeners to grow their own food along with food for the GTO Foodbank. Then, in 2013, two new gardens cropped up: the “Village Green” at Victoria Village and another at the Church of the Nazarene, where GTO’s Foodbank is located. The expansion included raised beds, a tree nursery, a communal tomato patch and rhubarb. And that year, the group also received a Spark advocacy grant from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

“There are so many advantages to be shared,” says the group’s Bill Monahan. “Food security, building a community spirit, healthy exercise for all participants. On top of that, it’s a fun thing to do and it gets people outdoors.”

The group is looking for interest and participation from Meaford residents. “But it’s about people, not money. We’re looking for enthusiastic citizens who want to be part of the dynamic and rewarding effort to localize food production so that fresh, organic produce is available to everyone.” To get involved, contact Jaden Calvert at or at 519.538.0628.

The Meaford Community Gardens Market will continue to run on Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Church of the Nazarene on Trowbridge Street until the produce is gone.

posted February 4th, 2012
Gardening in a retirement community? Yes and no.

“While missing my garden, I would not miss the work. There are also many farm stands around to be able to buy fresh produce. Just being able to plant a few tomato plants and small vegs would be sufficient. Nothing backbreaking. Also, it would be nice if it was surrounded by shrubs because gardens do not always look very nice. Distance from unit would also be a consideration.”

“My garden should be accessible, ie raised, need little watering, with zone hardy plants only that give interest in all seasons. I am a fan of ornamental grasses for that reason.”

It seems that even for those who love gardening, retirement’s the time to scale back on the work involved. Your prospective neighbours at Meaford Haven have shared their ideas on gardening at this Ontario retirement community, and while roughly half of those who replied to our questions are interested in having them, the general consensus is that Meaford Haven’s garden plots remain small, easy to tend, and tucked out of the way.

“Gardening can be a beautiful thing and also a very messy thing. I would not like to see the gardening plots being part of the community common landscape, meaning I would want to have to deliberately go to that area to see them.”

Private nooks and “secret gardens” mean those who wish to get their hands in the dirt don’t need to be on display to passersby as they putter away, and those who want to simply enjoy the fruits (and flowers) of their efforts can go on a garden stroll.

Meaford Haven gardener

Future residents who’d like to garden suggested hose spigots, rainwater collectors, orienting the beds correctly for sun exposure, and solar-powered lights for evening strolls.

“I currently garden two acres of lawn and gardens,” said one soon-to-be-retired gardener. “By the time I move from my present home I will have gardened enough for two lifetimes.” This gardener will be able to relax, and for those of you who love gardening, you’ll find your own little space.

Read the whole report here.

And you can still let us know what you think. Sign up here.

posted October 15th, 2011
Meaford Garden Club welcomes Frank Kershaw

Good news for gardeners. Frank Kershaw’s coming to town on Monday night to share his thoughts on Good Garden Design. Presented by the Meaford Garden Club and Thornbury’s 599 Garden Club, Kershaw’s presentation will include fundamental design concepts, new ideas and trends, breathtaking photos of gardens far and near, and a healthy dose of humour.

Kershaw’s own garden is a wonder, and was featured in both the first issue of Canadian Gardening in 1990 and in the 20th anniversary issue. He teaches the fundamentals of garden design at George Brown College and the Toronto Botanical Gardens, and he writes for a variety of gardening publications.

The Meaford Garden Club meets once a month at Meaford Hall in the North Gallery and welcomes all ages and levels of gardening expertise – as long as you have an interest in gardening!

Kershaw’s presentation takes place at Meaford Hall, Monday at 7 p.m., and it’s a great deal at only $10 plus HST. Box office.

posted July 1st, 2011
A green retirement – why gardening’s good for you

A couple of days ago, we met Shawn Phelps in this blog. When we talked, Shawn mentioned that when her father retired, he found himself suddenly at loose ends, and actually got sick. He had to find a hobby – something to do. In his case, it was stock trading, but he also walks, works out at the gym, and gardens – growing ferns and roses and helping out in Shawn’s permaculture garden.

A big part of the philosophy behind Meaford Haven is to provide an active retirement lifestyle to make your retirement years some of your best. And from the beginning, we’ve envisioned community gardening as an activity at Meaford Haven. Gardening provides a focussed hobby with lots to learn and share; the tangible rewards of flowers, fruits, vegetables and nuts; and physical activity (see Zoomer Magazine’s article on getting a workout while gardening.)

While ecological and ethical permaculture gardening is Shawn Phelps’s passion, she has additional ideas on how to make gardening an easy, active and popular active at Meaford Haven.

“Another suggestion would be a community food garden,” she says. “People love to make occasional preserves and have fresh fruit for breakfast, and organic and local are huge trends. Also, people love to garden – it’s excellent for stress reduction. I suggest creating a raised community garden for this, as they’re easier to access, and you can make it look beautiful.”

She explains. “Picture a series of rectangular three-foot by six-foot boxes all set out in two long rows with gravel or cedar bark filling the paths. People can sign up for a “plot”. And you need to have a nice, neat composting section.”

Another option is a small Healing Garden or Peace Garden, she suggests. “Something simple, but beautiful, with a walking path and benches, where people might sit and read or chat, and perhaps a water fountain for sound ambience.”

Visit Shawn’s website at

posted June 28th, 2011
Meaford permaculture gardener shares her ideas for Meaford Haven

“I’d like to suggest that you include a pretty community vegetable garden and permaculture garden to set you apart from all the other retirement lifestyle properties,” writes Shawn Phelps. “As well as it being a great selling point, I think people would love it and enjoy it.”

We’d asked for input, and Shawn’s note gave us some great ideas in developing the perfect three-season retirement community – as well as the opportunity to meet a truly interesting woman.

Two years ago, the Toronto-based writer and author bought a small two-acre farm on the edge of the town of Meaford (a short stroll from Meaford Haven, in fact.) Over the next two years she planted a small grove of fruit and nut trees (sour cherry, plum, pear, hazelnut, and Korean pine trees) as the start to her food-producing permaculture garden. Permaculture takes lessons from nature, positioning complementary plants together so they nuture and support each other, without the need for many traditional practices, such as fertilizing and spraying.

“Permaculture copies forests,” says Shawn. “Forests don’t need anyone to take care of them. So you have food forests, with a base of fruit and nut trees, then in between you have plants and bushes that support those trees. If they need nitrogen, you put in nitrogen-fixing plants; things like that. It takes some time, but once it’s set up, it doesn’t take much work. It takes care of itself. And you get a lot of food in a very small amount of space.”

As a journalist “obsessed with understanding humanity”, Shawn has travelled to more than 20 countries, and her travels introduced her to countries where food shortages and pollution are taken for granted. “It started me thinking about what solutions there might be,” says Shawn. “I saw this real movement toward things like permaculture and organic farming, and eventually it became an obsession.”

She brought these ideas to her Meaford home (“Meaford’s my favourite place on earth,” says Shawn.), and her environmentally friendly, food producing permaculture garden is well on its way.

She says she finds it weird that none of the other retirement communities in the Southern Georgian Bay area seem to be incorporating anything like this. “They might have a couple of trees, but they haven’t gone out of their way to create anything beautiful. “And why else would you move to Meaford unless you wanted to be near beautiful nature and connect with it?” she says.

Shawn Phelps in her Meaford garden

Shawn Phelps in her Meaford garden

Visit Shawn’s website at Some more thoughts on gardening and retirement living soon.

posted May 26th, 2011
Apple blossom time in Meaford

In the blink of an eye, it seems, Meaford’s apple (and cherry) trees are in blossom, and a stroll by one of our orchards can intoxicate you with the scent.

Apple Blossoms in Meaford

Apple Blossoms in Meaford

As early as 1837, settlers on Cape Rich, just northwest of Meaford, had planted McIntosh Red apple seedlings they’d brought with them. They’d planned to be able to harvest the apples from a few trees for themselves, maybe selling a few here and there. But their small orchard soon revealed that the region was perfect for apple growing, with the moderating influence of the Bay and the steep rise of the Niagara Escarpment cradling the microclimate. And it was the beginning of the Southern Georgian Bay apple growing industry.

Today, while industry pressures and new growing practices have brought changes to the traditional apple orchard, you can still pull into your favourite local orchard for such popular varieties as Northern Spy, Russet and McIntosh Red, as well as Empire, Gala, Honey Crisp and others.

(Here’s a list of some local orchards.)

Meaford’s connection to the apple industry is apparent in our tourism booth – a ripe red apple on the main street – and in the Municipality’s new slogan: “the other big apple”.

Meaford's Big Apple Tourism Booth

Meaford's Big Apple Tourism Booth (Courtesy The Meaford Independent -

And in the last few years, a delightful byproduct of our local apples, Peeler Cider, has been growing (pun intended) in popularity. More on that soon.

posted May 24th, 2011
Magnolias in Meaford?

Nestled between Georgian Bay and the Niagara Escarpment, Meaford enjoys a microclimate that’s perfect for growing apples. The water of the Bay changes temperature slowly as the seasons change. That moderates the air temperature, making it less likely we’ll have a late spring or early autumn frost. That same climate means magnolias can grow here, much farther north than you’d expect to find them in Ontario.

magnolias in meaford



We’re inviting a local gardener to share some observations on gardening in Meaford very soon.