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It is amazing what emerges from the cold…

In the story that follows, it will become evident why the cold time of year was needed for the soon to be bountiful emergence
of this humble bulb which has become our champion!

From January 1, 2006 to August 23, 2008 we saw the humble but enthusiastic beginnings of a garlic growing community here in the Haliburton Highlands.  Local garlic grower, Charlie Robb along with the assistance of wife Sheila and the financial sponsorship from the Haliburton County Farmer’s Association saw three successive Spring Garlic Growing Workshops.  In just three short years attendance doubled from fifty to one hundred participants; with many new faces each year.  All this “growing” interest culminated in the 1st Annual Garlic Fest held in Carnarvon, Ontario on Saturday, August 23, 2008.  A few short weeks later, the Haliburton County Garlic Growers Association (HCGGA) burst into bloom.  

September 2008 to August 2011 saw this newly sprouted group receiving a grant from the Haliburton County Development Corporation (HCDC), which enabled the association to enhance the 2nd Annual Garlic Fest with much needed equipment. Unfortunately, our organization’s founding father, Charlie Robb passed away two days before the 2nd Fest with the group carrying on in his memory.  HCDC came through again with funding after the second Fest which assisted the group with creating a logo, a website and a Spring Workshop in 2010.  Other projects completed were official vendor documents for our fests, roadside signs with new logo to identify member growers, and an HCGGA banner which provided higher visibility at the 3rd Annual Garlic Fest.   A “Site Inspection Checklist” was established for new members after 3rd fest, ensuring safe practices of growing garlic.  A Spring Workshop in 2011 and our 4th Annual Garlic Fest rounded out the season in August.

September 2011 to August 2012 was a very busy year with an on-site Planting Workshop that fall.  The winter saw the adoption of our own Constitution and a committee was set up to study alternative fest sites – we were fast outgrowing our Carnarvon corner; more space and safer parking were high on the list.  An early summer on-site Scaping Workshop complete with “snap it” harvesting technique, cooking demonstration and garlic ice cream, paved the way to our 5th Annual Garlic Fest with several hundred visitors in attendance.

September 2012 to August 2014 was the beginning for our members to become “citizen scientists”.  Originally a one year project for members to document Leek Moth Impacts in Haliburton County on their own personal plots, a three way partnership between U-Links, Haliburton County Farmers Market Association and the HCGGA was struck.  Members also participated in the Stanhope Heritage Day featuring scapes and promoting the Annual Garlic Fest.  The three way partnership resumed after a successful harvest of monitoring data and establishing a plan for managing our new Leek moth invaders.  A three year project was initiated with funding, to focus on the successful management of Bulb and Stem Nematode and other garlic pests; coupled with Leek Moth monitoring at hard hit spots.  Summer attendance at the Stanhope Heritage Day, continued with emphasis on scape uses, processing and recipes.  Each Annual Garlic Fest celebrats a record breaking attendance and after many years in Carnarvon, in 2014 the grounds of the Stanhope Community Centre became our new “forever” home.

We have more emphasis on research projects; all of the wonderful years of the Garlic Fest from it's inception and how it has grown in popularity and breadth of of all it encompasses each year; and new members on board with expanded association with Farmers Markets and local foods.   

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