TORONTO, Ont. – Riverdale Farm, a free urban gem in Cabbagetown, has staved off possible closure for the time being thanks to a generous donation.
Coun. Norm Kelly and Andrew Sorbara, vice-chair of the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation, announced on Monday that the farm had received $25,000 from the W. Garfield Weston Foundation.
“This donation, along with the generous giving from the last year and into the future, will help us continue to operate and enhance this exceptional rural oasis,” Toronto Centre-Rosedale Coun. Pam McConnell said after the announcement.
The W. Garfield Weston Foundation was established in the 1950s and supports organizations in education, conservation and science in Canada.
Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation chair Cynthia MacDougall said the donation will be used by the newly former Riverdale Farm Stewardship group to encourage other financial support and help with fundraising efforts to achieve long-term stability for the urban farm which costs about $500,000 a year to operate.
“We are confident that this donation will go a long way toward building a sustainable funding base for this important community resource,” said MacDougall.
The farm’s future was in question in 2011 when consulting firm KPMG recommended its closure to city council.
Public outcry prompted council to extend the farm’s funding until April 2013 to give the community time to establish alternate funding.
Riverdale Farm was not the only urban farm under threat of closure. Far Enough Farm, the petting zoo at Toronto Centre Island, was slated for closure last June due to budget cutbacks. But the city allowed the farm’s operator to run the 2012 season until a new operator was chosen.
Now, the city’s parks, forestry and recreation department has recommended that Far Enough Farm be leased to William Beasley Enterprises Ltd., the operator of the children’s amusement area on Centre Island.
High Park Zoo was also slated for closure in June but the Honey Family Foundation offered to match donations up to $50,000 over the next three years in a bid to keep the farm afloat.
- with files from Showwei Chu