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Happy 3rd Year Anniversary!

Three years ago, on January 15, 2021, a windstorm had blown through the area of Champlain Heights. Large branches were down in the streets and the surrounding trails. Grace Nombrado decided to go out out behind Kinross Creek Co-op where she lived, along the Red Alder Trail, and rake up fallen branches. As she raked branches into piles, she looked around and noticed how much invasive ivy was taking over the trail area. Grace decided that she would commit to taking the ivy out, and so Free the Fern was born.

As this is our third year anniversary, I thought it would be interesting to look back and read some passages from our founder, Grace’s journal:

January 16, 2021

I have taken on, or been inspired to take on, the project of clearing invasives and beautifying ‘Doug’s Garden’, as this area is called. Doug was a former co-op member who had a passion for caring for the garden. He was in a wheelchair, but he, with the help of his caregiver, took care to create the beautiful garden space. I felt he was speaking to me as I cleared the space of invasive plants.

January 17, 2021

Another day of clearing ivy in Doug’s garden. Cleared about 1/3 of the area we were working on. Feeling exhausted, but satisfied.

January 18, 2021

Many ideas – like getting a community small grant for my project. Ideas for more. But, I have to work within what I am capable of. Hope to increase native plants and “free the fern”.

January 21, 2021

Continuing working on the invasives in the trail. Realization that I don’t have to rush for a Spring planting, but that I have time to work on the garden and insure all the ivy is removed before a Fall planting.

I also realised that everything I need to make healthy soil is right here. I collected brown fern fronds from beneath the healthy green fronds. I plan to lay the browned ferns on the soil to protect it from drying out before the planting in the fall.

January 26, 2021

Had the first meeting of “Free the Fern” . It was just me and my neighbour, Chris, in Doug’s Garden. It was bitterly cold, but it was exciting to plan for the future.

Fast forward, 3 years and we have removed all invasives from “Doug’s Garden” and created the Douglas Fir Teaching Garden. We also created a Food Forest in 2023. In addition, we have a board of 11 amazing directors dedicated to helping Free the Fern.

On January 19, 2024, our directors gathered at the Village Pub for a 3rd year anniversary celebration and directors appreciation dinner. We enjoyed Fern Gully Fizz drinks, an anniversary cake, and lots of stories and laughter together.

Here is to many more years and many more fern to free!