Toronto's Riverdale Farm gets $25,000 donation

Toronto's Riverdale Farm is receiving a $25,000 donation from a private Canadian family foundation — an infusion of much-needed funds for the urban farm.
A newly announced donation will help keep Riverdale Farm running. 1:58

Toronto's Riverdale Farm is receiving a $25,000 donation from a private Canadian family foundation — an infusion of much-needed funds for the urban farm.

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation on Monday officially announced the donation, which will go toward helping the farm create more sustainable funding.

Sandy Straw, manager of parks for Toronto East York and Riverdale Farm, says the donations will help "keep our wonderful farm within the city of Toronto."

"We're trying to enhance our programming opportunities," says Straw. "We're trying to build some sustainable funding through Toronto Parks and Tree through the generosity of people like the Weston Foundation."

Riverdale Farm, a 7.5-acre farm located in the heart of Toronto's Cabbagetown neighbourhood, was threatened with closure last year as part of city budget cuts.

However, it got a reprieve when Mayor Rob Ford's executive committee voted to give the farm the money it needed to operate.

The farm, which has animals including horses, pigs, chickens and turkeys and crafts, costs about $500,000 to run each year. Admission to the farm is free.

For those who grow up in the city, the facility offers an opportunity for kids to get a taste of the farm life.

"It's pretty amazing cause Abby thinks this is her backyard," said Julia Carol, who came to visit Riverdale Farm with her two-year-old daughter, Abigail.

"So for a city kid, she thinks that she has horses and cows for pets."

The city helps pay for the animals and the staff, but this donation will help offset those costs and enhance the programming, said Coun. Pam McConnell.

"Anything we can do to offset those costs, great. Anything we can do to enhance the program, so that when the kids come they really learn, that's really important."

The donation will help springboard the newly formed Riverdale Farm Stewardship Group, whose aim is to secure a stable and sustainable funding base for the facility.

The grant matches every dollar donated by the public, up to $25,000.

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation was established in the 1950s by Willard Garfield Weston and his wife Reta, with their shares in their family company, George Weston Limited. The company's business includes the Weston baking company and Loblaw Companies Limited.