Abbey Gardens grows again
By Darren Lum
May 2, 2017
Local philanthropists John and Thea Patterson were celebrated for their endowment fund of $150,000 to support future Trent University graduate research at Abbey Gardens.
The Patterson Abbey Gardens Graduate Research assistantship is an endowment that will support a two-year summer research assistant position open to students from any graduate program at the university with a focus on Abbey Gardens. The endowment is part of Trent’s $50 million campaign, Unleash the Potential.
Trent University representatives said the study could focus on gravel pit rehabilitation for permaculture, food hubs, farmers’ markets and food security, heritage animals and crops, impact of policy and legislations on rural enterprise, strengthening seasonal recreation-based economies and creation and sustainability of rural social enterprises.
At the announcement on Wednesday, April 26, at Abbey Gardens, the university’s president Leo Groarke said things start with “gift giving.”
“Thank you, John and Thea. It’s a great day for Trent,” he said.
“I think it’s a great day for Haliburton and your generosity has made this possible,” he said.
This endowment establishes a permanent fund for graduate students to do research.
Groarke said there was great importance attached to having this announcement made in Haliburton, which was followed by the Peterborough campus and other locations.
While Thea sat in the audience listening, John spoke about the endowment and the relationship between the partners.
“Today is a great day for Abbey Gardens, for Trent and for Haliburton County. A special relationship is being formalized today and I’m very grateful for Leo’s kind words about the Pattersons and about Abbey Gardens, this gravel pit, this mythical gravel pit. Trent University has for years through U-Links and other means [been] paying attention to our county.
"Now that relationship is taking the form of a long-term partnership in the area of research. As Haliburton continues to explore options for ways to care for the environment and grow a healthy community, the research disciplines that reside at Trent will be made available to the county and through the Abbey Gardens Community Trust in addition to Trent’s existing avenues for interacting with the county."
Abbey Gardens will continue to offer locally grown food, be a home for entrepreneurial ventures, offer education opportunities about the environment and create a place of beauty for everyone to enjoy, he said.
“We are very grateful indeed to president Groarke and his team from Trent for collaborative work already undertaken with Abbey Gardens and for the commitment being celebrated today to continue that collaboration long into the future.
"With Trent’s amazing high calibre of support, Haliburton can show the way for many other Canadian communities. The times we live in require a very high level of commitment and creativity. Others will be watching Haliburton. We delight in this relationship with Trent,” he said.
Also in attendance was MP Jamie Schmale, the university’s vice-president of external relations and advancement, Julie Davis, professor Tom Whillans and retired professor John Wadland.
John and Thea founded Abbey Gardens in 2008. Abbey Gardens is a not-for-profit charity that repurposed a reclaimed open pit-quarry that has brought employment and educational opportunities related to sustainable farming and construction. It is governed by its own board of directors.