Special partnership dresses up Port Hope's downtown for the harvest

By Cecilia Nasmith

Port Hope's downtown will be dressed up for harvest time – between Thanksgiving and Halloween – thanks to the Lent Lane Harvest Art Community Partnership Program.

This collaboration of the municipality's Marketing and Tourism Department with the Heritage Business Improvement Area, Lee Higginson of Fluke Craft, and the Garden Hill Farmers Market will take the form of a temporary art installation to celebrate a special time of year in the community.

This initiative is an outgrowth of last year's Local Food First Impression Community Engagement Program through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, in which the municipality's Marketing and Tourism Division participated. One of the resulting recommendations was to ensure that Port Hope's downtown has the visibility of a local-food destination – especially during harvest time, which coincides with peak tourism season.

It's also another way for the community to express its pride in its rural roots, Port Hope marketing manager Kevin Narraway added in the municipality's press release.

“This project lends itself well to showcasing our community as an agricultural and ‘foodie-friendly’ community,” Narraway stated.

The art installations will be created using harvest produce generously donated by Jamie Ferguson of Garden Hill Farmers Market. The cost of participation includes the installation, labour and a consultation meeting with Lee Higginson of Fluke Craft to create a plan for an installation that reflects the character and nature of each participating business.

As part of a larger local food strategy, downtown businesses may participate by contributing 50% of the cost for the display, and the Marketing and Tourism Division will match it.

The partnership with Fluke Craft and Garden Hill Farmers Market accentuates the spirit behind the initiative.

Fluke Craft founder Higginson is a Port Hope artist who creates “found art” that strives for social awareness and community engagement with hand-made pieces crafted with love and purpose – using unlikely materials found in nature and off the beaten path.

The Garden Hill Farmers Market was begun in 2013, when Jamie and Kristin Ferguson took on the challenging and rewarding task of growing more than 50 acres of produce in the hamlet of Garden Hill. Their growing year starts in the spring with asparagus and rhubarb, moves on into summer strawberries, lettuces and onions, then segues into various squashes and a huge selection of pumpkins.

The operation also partners with several other Ontario producers to offer a full selection of high-quality vegetables and fruits. Local products round out the farmer’s-market experience with honey, jam, jellies, maple syrup and more.

Higginson expressed her gratitude for the chance to participate in a harvest project that combines artful display with the promotion of the local agricultural industry.

Ferguson pointed out that agriculture is an historically important industry and tradition in the municipality.

“Participation in the Harvest Art Installation is an example of how farmers, like me, can promote local food,” he said.