BY NADINE EAGLES- HARVIE
Along the Hants shore, there is a small park - with a large circle of friends.
If you want to know how to throw a fun fundraiser, ask the Friends of Harmony Park.
The Harmony Park masquerade ball and art auction Oct. 24 was one of the best parties Windsor has ever seen: stunning masks, gorgeous food and irresistible music added up to an enchanting evening in King’s-Edgehill School’s concert hall.
Wolfville’s Latin Groove wove a magical mix of rhumbas and salsas and had everyone on the floor. Chef Dominique Fadula from the Avon Emporium offered succulent tapas.
Organizer Denise Stockdale says the event was not as well attended as hoped, but it still raised thousands for the little park in Summerville. The art auction alone generated just under $2,500. The final total far exceeded the evening’s goal. "The support this event received from artists and local businesses, as well as folks attending, is greatly appreciated. The money raised will help ensure the needed improvements to Harmony Park's infrastructure and development of its recreational programming.”
More than a green space
Harmony Park is much more than a bit of grass: it serves as a community centre for tiny Summerville.
Surrounding Dr. Arthur Hines Elementary School (DAHS), the park is both the school’s playground and the village’s recreation space. “The well-maintained park offers free recreational programming and provides families along the Hants Shore,” Stockdale says, providing “visitors of all ages healthy activity choices close to home.”
Harmony Park boasts a community organic garden, sports field, walking trail and playground. All were made possible by the hard work of FHPS, along with the Hants Shore Community Health Centre, the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board, community members and DAHS staff, students and parents.
The trail around the park’s perimeter offers a safe walking or cycling route, and even the occasional horse back ride. “The trail offers not only a safe place to be active, but also a chance to come together with friends,” Stockdale says. “The park provides more than just leisure activities, it acts as a focal point for the community.”
Harmony Park hosts Hants Shore’s soccer program and, last year, the park began a summer recreation program featuring theatre games with actor Andrew Kasprzak, the first annual Egg Olympics, pony rides, a petting zoo and a day of water games. Next year, the group hopes to secure a theatre program at the outdoor amphitheatre and offer a birthday party package. “Harmony Park offers a fantastic space for such an event, including the shelter next to the school organic garden. “If visitors are comfortable in the garden, always feel free to do a little weeding!” Stockdale adds.
The park’s vegetable garden is planned, planted and tended largely by DAHS students. It helps children learn about organic gardening, healthy eating and basic food preparation.
In addition to enjoying healthier school lunches, students are also developing life skills to take home. Teachers also use the garden and park to inspire classroom projects: nature walks, soil studies, investigations in texture and smell, pond explorations, and art projects. In fact, some of the artwork auctioned during the fundraiser was created by students at DAHS
In a celebration of the harvest, Chef Michael Howell, owner of Tempest restaurant in Wolfville, spends a day at the school helping prepare a banquet featuring Harmony Park produce as a thank you to staff, students, parents, supporters and volunteers.
In 2007, Slow Food Nova Scotia produced a documentary video about the project, “The Edible Schoolyard.” .
Neighbourhood support “Without the support of community members and its visitors, Harmony Park could not exist,” Stockdale says. “Coming out to enjoy fundraisers helps to ensure the continued success of this community space. “The board members of Harmony Park wish to thank everyone who has participated over the years with the development of both the physical space of Harmony Park and its programming. “
The Friends hope to make the gala an annual event, with a few tweaks. Next year's event will be scheduled for the Saturday before Halloween. “It has been wonderful to witness how well local residents come together to raise money for local projects and events, Stockdale says. “Harmony Park is truly a space for community to grow!”
BY NADINE EAGLES- HARVIE