L-R: Councillor Doreen O'Sullivan, Carol Pillar, Claude Smith, Mayor Nancy Peckford, Councillor Kristin Strackerjan

The greenhouse on the Kemptville Campus came alive on Saturday at an open house designed to showcase the asset to the community. The event was organized by community volunteers lead by local resident, Claude Smith. Claude is a former student of the Kemptville College who subsequently became the coordinator of the horticulture program at the school until the Campus closed in 2015. “It always bothered me that the greenhouses weren’t being used,” she said.

Claude made a presentation to council last Fall, suggesting that the three greenhouses in the A.J. Logsdail Centre on the Campus be opened for public use. About a month ago, she also made a presentation to the Kemptville Campus Board, which was very supportive of the idea. The result is that they have decided to open the greenhouse to the public as an “oasis” on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10am-2pm. They are requesting a small donation to use the facility during these hours to help with the upkeep of the building. “The main idea is seeing activity and movement [in the facility],” says volunteer, Carol Pillar. “People can come and relax and get out of the cold weather.”

Having the greenhouse open to the public twice a week is just the beginning. The goal is to transform it into a vibrant community space, offering a variety of horticultural and educational programming to the public. Claude hopes to offer lots of workshops, and to rent the greenhouse out as event space for people in the community. There is also the option of renting space per square foot to house plants over the winter and have them looked after by greenhouse volunteers. They are in the process of talking with the schools on the campus to have the greenhouse used as part of their curriculum. “We really just want to rejuvenate it,” Claude says.

Mayor Nancy Peckford is excited about this new opportunity to capitalize on yet another asset the Kemptville Campus has to offer. “The Municipality and the Campus have been working hard to think about the next hundred years,” she said at the open house. “This initiative is very important to the future of this place.” She went on to thank Claude, Carol and all the other volunteers for bringing this opportunity to life. “We need lots of champions to make this work,” she said. “We really appreciated how much you care about the greenhouses, and I really think we are going to do something great together.”

The greenhouse is a component in the Kemptville Campus master planning process that is currently underway. Mayor Peckford says the facility is definitely on the radar of other parties in Eastern Ontario. “The master plan will distill what the opportunity is,” she said. “The greenhouse, and other campus assets, are definitely something we want to leverage.” The draft master plan is set to be out at the end of March. The Municipality will be holding an open house to gather public input on February 10, at 5:30pm at the Municipal Centre.

The first workshop being offered at the greenhouse will be “Kick start your garden season”, run by Carol and Claude. The 5-week series will run on Wednesdays, from March 11 to April 8, and on Saturdays from March 7 to April 4. To register, or learn more, you can contact Claude at claude431@cogeco.ca.

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