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Abbey Gardens

  • Birds eye view of Abbey Gardens Hub & Garden.jpg
  • Monarch Release.jpg
  • Garden Passport.jpg
  • Maple, Snowshoes, Tomatoes ... Oh yes!.jpg
  • Local Taste Sensation Tour.jpg
  • Pond Hoop House.jpg
  • Hitting the Transition Trail.jpg
  • Maple and Flapjack.jpg
  • Heritage Breed Chantecler Chickens.jpg
  • The Food Hub.jpg
  • Grade 1 pumpkin patch.jpg
  • Inside the Abbey Gardens kitchen.jpg
  • Let's make Lunch!.jpg
  • Colours of the Garden for lunch.jpg
  • Making a garden rain guage.jpg
  • Checking out the pumpkin.jpg
  • Windows into the Glen.jpg
  • Stopping to smell the flowers.jpg
  • Aereal of Abbey Gardens in the Haliburton Highlands.png


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A Growing Experience … A Growing Education

Fun and engaging experiential education.  Back to "the roots" programming.  Naturally connecting food to health. At Abbey Gardens, we are all about local food!  We grow it, sell it and educate about it. Abbey Gardens is a charitable organization focused on a community-based effort to remediate a decommissioned gravel pit into a sustainable center for innovation.  Our vision is to inspire a healthy community through supporting education, demonstration and incubation for local food efforts. Our 300-acre site is developing incrementally, and its natural program area, trails, garden, and Food Hub create the canvas for our programs.  We offer school field trips, seasonal programming, adult and youth workshops, interpretive tours and volunteer opportunities to teach and share knowledge about growing and preparing local food and the importance of healthy ecosystems. Abbey Gardens in Haliburton County began with the idea that ordinary people can make a huge environmental difference in their communities. Already a vibrant regional art and outdoor skills hub, Haliburton was on the cusp of becoming a hotspot for locally, sustainably grown organic food.  


Involving the Abbey Gardens team as a whole we are able to offer unique learning experiences on and off site.  Abbey Gardens is a not for profit charity and aims to provide accessible programming for all community groups and members.  Program costing will be determined as appropriate for each group.  Curriculum linkages are available, and we will customize programming to meet your needs! If you don't see what you are looking for, please talk to us and we can make it happen!

Contact us

Call us at (705)754-4769(GROW) and ask for Irene or Cara. Or email Irene Heaven, Education Coordinator – : Cara Steele, Program Coordinator –

Existing Programs

Self-led: Garden Quest Passport

  • Fun and energetic “scavenger” hunt which introduces participants to the gardens. The quest booklet seconds as a colouring activity for participants to take home or back to the classroom.

EcoQuest Passport

  • An active “scavenger” hunt which introduces participants to the Glen and concepts of ecology.  This exciting new self-led activity is in development.

Abbey Gardens Staff led: Earthwalk (All Seasons)

  • A unique sensory based program that helps people of all ages build a sense of relationship with our natural world, in both awareness and understanding.  Discover nature’s subtleties with the magic of smell, sound and touch!

The Great Speck-tackle! (Junior) (All Seasons)

  • The day begins with a hike out to the Glen, where students gather at Speck Trail Junction. While in small groups, students follow informative guidebooks along designated trails and recreate the adventures of a particular water, soil and air speck. Students will learn the concept of specks (i.e. molecules) and how they cycle through the environment. There is an extension option where students create postcards from a viewpoint of a speck describing their travels through a soil, water or air cycle.

Oink, Moo, Cock-a-doodle Doo … Oh, what we do for you! (Junior) (All Seasons)

  • This program will familiarize children with animals that are typically found on farms and will introduce the importance of heritage breeds and biodiversity in general.  With the use of fun activities, participants will associate animals with different roles and products that are important to people, whether you live on a farm or not and communities.

Maple, Snowshoes, Tomatoes … Oh, Yes! (Junior) (Early Spring)

  • Get to know Abbey Gardens as you tour the property on snowshoes to learn about maple syrup production, then warm up indoors with some hot apple cider while making and eating bannock – a traditional bread!  Then have an afternoon full of fun activities learning about local food choices and meet our own Maple – a heritage pony!  Finish the day by creating a take-home craft.

In Search of the Red Ripe Strawberry! (Pre-school, Junior) (Early Summer)

  • Children will enjoy a story and then go for an exploratory hike in search of wild strawberries. Looking at strawberries and their plants will engage discussion on seeds, seed dispersal and who else may eat strawberries.  The program will then end with a delicious strawberry snack that will surely put a smile on all faces!

One Plant, Two Plants, Three Plants … Garden! (Junior) (Spring &Summer)

  • An active introduction to Abbey Gardens and to the plants that are essential to its gardens and ourselves.  Children explore plant biology through fun role playing activities and come to understand the needs of plants, in a garden or in nature. The program includes an Earthwalk, planting of pumpkins or a three sister’s garden and a take home plant experiment.

The Local Taste Sensation Tour (Junior) (Summer & Early Fall)

  • An appetizing introduction to Abbey Gardens and local food.  Your visit will start with a fun & active exploration of Abbey Gardens through our passport activity.  Then you will join our Gardener on the tasty trail tour to sample and pick your snack.  This program will not only fill tummies but is designed to demonstrate the importance of healthy local food in a very fun way!

It’s All Elementary (Junior) (Spring, Summer & Fall)

  • The fundamental natural elements of fire (sun), water, earth and air are explored and connections made to the needs of plants and all living things.  Children will have fun learning about these four elements through interactive discovery activities.

Movin’ & Groovin’ Seeds (Junior) (Fall))

  • Children are introduced to the different parts of a plant, what plants need to grow and how they reproduce.  Through exploration, collection and sorting activity, children will understand that seeds come in different forms and rely on different “agents” for dispersal.

Fall for Apples! (Pre-school, Junior)(Fall)

  • Fall for Apples will have children exploring apples and learning how they grow!  Children will enjoy a walk through the garden, a story and then visit with a young apple tree. During this program children will have fun stuffing an apple to eat and planting its seed to watch it grow at home. This program will be an apple in their eye!

Program topics are coming soon!

Abbey Gardens staff are developing new programs on a regular basis and are eager to customize to fit your needs. Here are some things we are currently working on!

Preparing for Winter

Life in winter

Heritage Breeds


Please talk to us about custom programs especially for your group!  

Our Facility

Please be aware that Abbey Gardens is not a nut free environment. The Food Hub & Community Kitchen A beautiful straw bale building, with solar net metering and heating and cooling with geothermal energy provides a community food hub, complete with cooking classes.    The food hub is a social enterprise offering products from local producers and sourced goods from within a 200 km radius. The Food Hub makes available fresh vegetables, fresh milled red fife wheat and wheat products, naturally raised meats, handmade soaps, sprays and lotions as well as local artisan creations.  The Food Hub aims to support local producers and increase accessibility and distribution of local products to consumers. The Food Hub provides an on-site Community Kitchen where “housemade” food products are prepared using locally grown ingredients.  The Community Kitchen boasts the latest equipment for canning, freezing, and baking and can provide nutritional labelling and custom product packaging. This space is available to community groups, charitable programs, and local food entrepreneurs. Programming offered through the Food Hub and Community Kitchen includes workshops on food, nutrition, and food preparation. We provide healthy experiences and lasting memories for community members.  Garden/ecology programs often integrate kitchen programming providing a well-rounded “field to table” learning experience. Gardens Presently there are 2 acres of garden producing healthy, chemical-free vegetables in a way that works within our natural environment.  Future plans exist and are continuously developing as more and more of the decommissioned gravel pit is reclaimed.  A shaded sitting area and hoop houses are dispersed among different types of gardens including hugelbeds, lasagna gardens, pollinator gardens, a labyrinth garden and a young orchard.  These features along with our emerging “Education Garden” provide a diverse outside landscape for programming opportunities at Abbey Gardens. Forest Two hundred acres of mixed wood forest characteristic of Haliburton Highlands envelopes a beautiful wetland in the back portion of Abbey Gardens.  This natural area provides numerous opportunities for programming and will be the future home of a trail system currently under development. Natural Programming Area “The Glen” is a pocket of natural forested area with a milkweed meadow and a stream running through which is in close proximity to the gardens.  The Glen is a perfect backdrop for experiencing and learning about the essential connections between our natural world and cycles that are important to us and our food. The Alcove Perfect for smaller groups, this quaint heated gazebo with cedar wood interior is nestled alongside a small pond which can be viewed through a bank of windows. It is located next to a wooded trail that joins up with the Transitions Trail making it easily accessible.  The wooded area and a close by open field is the perfect complement for outdoor activities. The Yurt This family made yurt from Mongolia is a unique setting for many of the experiences offered at Abbey Gardens.  Nestled at the forest edge, it is an inspirational place to host workshops, programs and personalized packages for adults and children alike.  It can be accessed by boot, snowshoe or car, which opens up a variety of programming opportunities from its wooden doors. Transitions Trail This new trail is a view oriented introduction into Abbey Gardens’ past, present and future.  It is a 1.2 km woodchip trail that starts near the garden and takes hikers through the active transition of an aggregate operation to what we are today.  Many features such as the bank swallow nesting habitat (created by the gravel pit), a pond, a scrub meadow and a forest succession area give much opportunity for the viewing of flora and fauna and can be integrated within Abbey Gardens programming.

Workshops & Tours

We offer workshops and tours! Join us for a specialty workshop or a guided tour: All about Abbey Gardens, Garden tour or our interactive Lunch and Learn tour. See program calendar at our website for dates or contact Cara Steele at or 705 754 4769 to inquire about custom or private tours.



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1012 Garden Gate Drive, Haliburton Ontario K0M 1S0
Haliburton, Minden, Wilberforce, Coboconk, Bracebridge, Huntsville, Lindsay, Peterborough, Gravenhurst, Orillia ... Haliburton County, Muskoka District, City of Kawartha Lakes, Simcoe County and so much more!
Program Type
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Field Trip
Classes | Workshops
Guided Tours
Interpretive Program
Self-Guided Tours
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What people are saying …

Gesa Haase. Teacher. Trillium Lakelands District School Board.

“Students had a great time and were engaged in the activities.  The program was very well-planned out and linked well with our science curriculum.  It was a great mix of active moving activities and quiet listening/doing.”


“This is a great place to visit!  It can be educational and fun at the same time.  We got to feed the chickens and plant things to help get ready for winter.”


“Abbey Gardens was wicked!  They provide a lot of help and their resources are amazing.  Irene is super nice.  The activities she planned were awesome.”


“I noticed that they focus on more than just gardening!  They provided us with a variety of experiences in one visit.  That helped me stay interested!”

Kimberly Higgins. Teacher, Trillium Lakelands District School Board.

“The staff at Abbey Gardens listened to the particular needs and wants I had for my group and they exceeded these on every level possible.  The staff created a very unique volunteering and learning experience which was hands-on and at the level of my students.  All my students left feeling positive which was one of the goals of my programming.

The programs at Abbey Gardens are very unique because the staff are very well rounded and open to many ideas.  My trip to Abbey Gardens have fulfilled my programming goals in all capacities, as well as ensuring my students are inspired at the end of the program.  The staff at Abbey Gardens are very approachable making the eexperience of my students something beyond what I could provide myself in the classroom.

Abbey Gardens has such a wide variety of activities.  If you think it can be done in a garden then ask.  My students were able to experience volunteering and teamwork in the garden.  And then learn about kitchen skills, while preparing a meal from the garden.  The way the entire experience connected was only possible because of the staff.  My students and I were thrilled with our first experience, so we planned a second.  The second experience was even better!  And now we cannot wait for the third!”


“Great Experience!  The staff are nice and willing to help when needed.  I would definitely go again because the staff are so positive which makes me happy.”


“My favorite part about Abbey Gardens was burying plants for the winter.  I liked that I could help out in the garden.  The staff were really nice and helpful while we were volunteering.”

Kim Switzer. Homeschool parent.

“We very much enjoyed our homeschool adventure with Abbey Gardens, it was a great outdoor hands on gardening experience for both the girls – the were so happy to get dirty, feed chickens, play with the horses, grow food and EAT foods.  They learned about soils, seeds, different styles of gardening from square-foot gardening to Hugle beds, hoop houses, lasagna beds and more.  They enjoyed the Nature walks, the social friend time with free play games and learning about the food they eat.  Kayla says her favorite parts were watching Peepers grow and the long nature walks.  Hailey liked eating lunch, purple beans and feeding the chickens.  I, as a Mom and teacher, loved that it was outdoors for the most part and hands on practical learning – everyone needs to learn more about the food they eat, how to grow food and how to connect with the Earth and I feel that this program offered that to the kids in a fun playful and practical way … so I give thanks to the Abbey Garden team for offering this to our children.  Keep up the good work and keep “Growing” these programs for the kids!”


“Abbey Gardens is an amazing opportunity for us, especially when the weather is nice.  We got to try many new things.  I cannot wait to go back!”


“Our trips to Abbey Gardens are absolutely fantastic.  Everyone is really nice and helpful.”


“You can’t go there and do nothing!  They have something fun at every turn.”