Our Story

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We had a big dream to transform a spent gravel pit (300 acres) into a green space that provides economic and recreational opportunities for our community.

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Our site features local food shopping, interpretive trails, heritage breed displays, programming and event spaces, picnic areas, gardens and more!

We  Community

Abbey Gardens is a not-for profit charity providing economic and recreational opportunities for our community. Everything we do on site helps further our mission to create opportunities to learn about living more sustainably. If you want to learn about local food, gardening, energy, sustainable construction techniques, heritage agricultural animals, land restoration or cooking techniques, this is the place to visit!

From A Dream

Everything fell into place when John Patterson, a retired businessman, came up with the idea of bringing a local gravel pit back to life as a garden. He’d been to see Butchart Gardens, a national historic site near Victoria, B.C., and the Eden Project in Cornwall, U.K., the largest indoor rainforest in the world, both of which are rehabilitated open-air mines and world-class gardens.  He was inspired by the idea of creating a greenspace where the community can gather, learn and enjoy and began his search for a gravel pit in Haliburton County.

To Today

Today, our site features local food shopping opportunities through our Food Hub, interpretive trails, heritage breed displays, programming and event spaces, picnic areas and kiosks,  gardens and more!

Our Dedicated Team

Abbey Gardens employs full-time and seasonal staff to help manage our gardens, programs, retail, wholesale and daily operations.

Ashley McAllister Director of Operations & Strategic Initiatives 

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Ashley’s role involves oversight of the entire operation and strategic planning for the development of the Abbey Gardens project. Ashley grew up in Haliburton County before beginning her career in the nonprofit sector with a grassroots nonprofit organization called Lawn Summer Night, specializing in creating unique lawn bowling tournaments for young professionals. In her seven years with the organization, Ashley helped raise over $4.5 million for Cystic Fibrosis Canada through peer-to-peer fundraising events, developed diverse corporate partnerships, and extensively grew the organization to twenty locations across Canada. She returned to Haliburton four years ago, buying a house on the same lake she grew up on and getting involved in the community through volunteer work with organizations like Rotaract, HSAD, Places for People, and more. 

Irene Heaven Education Coordinator

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Irene oversees the development and implementation of interpretive, educational programming for Abbey Gardens. Irene is a wildlife biologist with extensive field experience nationally and internationally and has been involved in outdoor and environmental education for 19 years. 

Cara Steele, Program Coordinator & Ecological Specialist

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Cara oversees restoration projects on the property including design, plant sourcing, implementation, volunteer management, and community outreach.   Her academic and professional background is in ecological restoration.  She has over 10 years of experience in this  field and has completed forest, grassland, shoreline, pollinator garden, and wetland restoration projects.  She also facilitates many of the gardening and ecology-based workshops conducted at Abbey Gardens. 

Kyrie Stoll, Business Support

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Kyrie assists with business incubation, operations, wholesale, events, and markets – call her a “Jill of all trades!” She comes with many years of experience in customer service and is passionate about local food. Kyrie is a wonderful addition to our growing team! 

Misty Zaranik, Garden Manager

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Misty is passionate about nurturing nutrient dense plant growth through harvest while experimenting with permaculture design and renewed horticultural practices and working with the moon phases. 

With a background in design and as a first generation grower, Misty operated a small market garden on her homestead in Ilderton, Ontario. In relocating to beautiful Haliburton, Misty is excited to share in exploring living more sustainably and continuing to support connection with food, community, and nature. 

Our Board

Abbey Gardens is governed by a Board of Directors that meet monthly to evaluate the long-term strategic direction of the organization. View more about our board members by clicking below.

Janis Parker

Mary Hulme

John Patterson
Terry O’Connor
Barb Bolin
Curtis Eastmure
Marianne Fenninger

Brenda Smith