November 2018 – Rose Farley

Sharing the Farm with a Family from Syria

 As well as working as a volunteer with the Friends of the Central Experimental Farm, Rose Farley also volunteers with friends to help a recently arrived family from war-torn Syria. Although the family is settling into their new life in Ottawa, there is much to learn. During times when Rose is not helping them adjust to their new country, she sometimes enjoys sharing the beauty of the Arboretum. “They saw four weddings there the day that we visited,” she recollects. “They thought it was so beautiful.”

Having grown up in Ottawa, Rose has been a long-time visitor to the Farm for many years.  As a child, she remembers having picnics and going tobogganing there with family. As an adult, she walked there frequently with her two much-loved dogs­– Brodie, a Collie and Maddie, a Golden Doodle. In 2012, after retiring from a busy career in the federal public service, she decided to join the Friends and signed up as a volunteer.

For a few years, she worked as part of the Shelter Belt Team overseeing a strip of recently planted trees and shrubs along Merivale Road at the western edge of the Farm. She enjoyed working there, weeding and mulching with the other volunteers. Then she added to her volunteer duties, joining the Peony Team. These volunteers care for approximately 600 stunningly beautiful peonies that bloom every June at the Ornamental Gardens.

When arthritis in her hands and back made gardening too painful to continue, a positive attitude prevailed. She turned her interests instead to assisting with the Friends’ annual Victorian tea. She continues to help with that event– hulling strawberries, setting tables and filling lemon curd into small tarts for guests to enjoy.

She was disappointed when the tea, always a popular event as guests compete for the best Victorian garb and hats, got rained out this year. Fortunately, the sandwiches were delivered instead to a local food bank and the homemade baking was frozen and used instead at the Art in the Farm sale in mid-August.

“You feel like you’re doing something useful that’s contributing to the quality of life in Ottawa,” she says, explaining her rationale for her volunteering to help the Friends for over six years now. Even though she hasn’t been so active recently, she loves to help out whenever possible. She’s a big believer in giving back.

Text by Julianne Lebreche

Photo by Polly McColl