Last week I had the opportunity to visit with Aimee, the owner of Alabaster Acres in Caledon. I was tagging along with Jessica Elliott (firstname.lastname@example.org), who joined the Central Counties team this month as the new Headwaters Field Manager. Aimee embodies entrepreneurship and the dogged determination that it takes to succeed. She has transformed her business to remain relevant and sustainable while never wavering from her commitment to stewardship and education. I left feeling both incredibly energized and motivated, and exhausted just thinking about the sheer amount of work and effort Aimee invests day-in and day-out to continue to build and grow the business.
Aimee literally built the glamping business from the ground up, physically constructing the platforms and frames for the tents and other amenities. I have seen pictures of the sites at Alabaster Acres but when I actually took in the entire camp, with its outdoor kitchens, private firepits, outdoor baths and showers, walking paths and bench swings, I was at a loss for words to describe my feelings. Awe, joy, amazement, giddy. Sure, they all fit. But at the end of the day, it just felt “right”. The word I used while there was “solid” and by that I meant everything seemed to be exactly where it was supposed to be and also looked like it would be there, looking as beautiful as the day I saw it, for 100 more years.
After experiencing the incredible glamping area, we learned more about her education programming and animal experiences. She continues to grow the offerings at the farm and recently partnered with the husband-and-wife team of Julie and Steve owners of Jolly Zee Alpacas by providing them with farmland for their herd. It is a mutually beneficial relationship in that Aimee has a built-in audience for Julie and Steve’s business, and Julie and Steve provide yet another reason to visit and stay over night at Alabaster Acres. That right there is one of the reasons why Alabaster Acres is, and will continue to be, the huge success that it is.
Every successful entrepreneur realizes that partnerships and relationships are necessary, and embrace the notion of sharing ideas, investments and customers – all of which leads to shared success. By the time we had finished touring the back field, where plans are underway for year-round hiking, snowshoeing, and fat-biking trails that will be marked out around a new vintage trailer glamping area, and the old farm equipment shed that is being converted into an absolutely stunning outdoor meeting space, we had laid out plans to gather all kinds of Headwaters stakeholders – from farmers to caterers, breweries and cideries to conservation authorities – at the new meeting space to learn what everyone does and how they may be able to incorporate each other into their current businesses. Aimee wants to provide her guests and potential guests options for them to have local foods delivered to their glamping sites or have a list of local caterers on-hand for small meetings and events.
As we were talking, we realized that by having this meeting, the caterers may make new connections with the local farmers, other attractions may form relationships with local breweries and cideries, and the fantastic parks and conservation areas may think of great new programming ideas that utilize local talent and goods. Aimee and Jessica are working on making that Headwaters meeting happen sometime in October. The reason I know it is going to work is that it is industry driven and CCT supported. It is you, the stakeholders, that can make things happen. Our job as CCT is to help provide you with the tools you need to be successful.
The meeting that Aimee and Jessica are currently organizing is an incredible idea. If you want help organizing one for your community or region, just let me know and we will be there for you to help make it happen. As we are getting closer and closer to the “new normal”, the timing is perfect to connect and re-connect you and your business with others in your area. Just email me at email@example.com or reach out to your regions’ amazing field manager.
Headwaters: Jessica (firstname.lastname@example.org)
York: Sandra (email@example.com)
Durham: Eleanor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Have a great day!