We have all noticed it lately while driving around the Kawartha Lakes. A farm goes up for sale. Once sold, the big machines go in and cut down the trees between the fields, often piling them up into piles for burning. Then the spring rains come. The field, without trees, doesn’t drain well. There are new boggy areas. The new landowner, at considerable expense, has someone come in to lay the long plastic pipes to tile, or drain, the field, in hopes that this will solve the problem. But this is not the only problem that has been created.
Joe Valas never intended to be a full-time beekeeper, but for 60 years, honey fans in the Kawartha Lakes have been glad he did just that.
After escaping Slovakia in 1952, Valas — a cabinetmaker trained to work with hand tools — moved to Southampton to find work. However, machinery had taken over furniture production in Canada, so he took temporary work on a farm and instead, found a field of clover.
School’s not yet out at Fleming College’s Frost Campus where the summer semester is just now winding down for some students in Fish & Wildlife, Ecosystem Management, Forestry, and Heavy Equipment, and where environmental projects have been on the go all summer.
Maybe because the campus is on the edge of town, what happens there often passes unnoticed. Too bad, because what happens is cutting-edge and inspiring environmental action.
After a quick summer stroll through downtown Lindsay, one can see that this little town of ours is full of life. Trees and flowering plants take refuge on lawns and in neighbouring yards, and yet some of those plants are less than welcome. Dog-Strangling Vine is a highly invasive species which was introduced from Eurasia to the United States as a garden plant in the mid-1800s.
Now, in the 21st century, it has become increasingly prolific in Southern Ontario, competing with native plant species that are essential food sources for our insects, birds, and mammals. For those who can recognize its characteristic oval-shaped leaves, arranged in pairs on its fleshy stem, and seed pods which resemble green chili peppers, it is a frightful addition to Lindsay’s list of flora.
It’s 9 a.m. at Victoria Park. Another hot, cloudless summer morning, so a picnic table in the shade of an oak tree in Victoria Park is a good place to be. It is in fact the perfect place to be to meet up with Megan Phillips, the City’s horticulturist. Megan and some of her six-member crew of summer students have some work to do in the park.
They aren’t hard to spot. A City truck pulls up and they all clamber out in steel-toed work-boots and fluorescent orange high-visibility t-shirts.
One day, perhaps, this will be a well-known story. It will be a story of how a Kawartha Lakes entrepreneur, Kim Thompson, had a fitful night’s sleep. The legend will continue about how she used that late-night opportunity to pour herself into researching her business – horticulture – and after many more fitful nights’ sleep then finds her inspiration. It is the beginning of an insight that could overturn much of what we know about how things grow. Miryal will then become a great Canadian moment.
After more than five years, the McLaren Marsh viewing platform at Ken Reid Conservation Area has been re-imagined and redeveloped and is now open to the public.
“The completion of this project has been a long time coming,” said director of stewardship and conservation areas, Kristie Virgoe. “The viewing platform has always been one of the most recognized and favourite spots for visitors to Ken Reid Conservation Area.
The lilac gardens just off of Logie Street in Lindsay are little more than stumps right now, and local residents and tourists will have to wait another year to enjoy the space once again.
In the 1960s, the inescapable logic of Star Trek’s Mr. Spock left an indelible mark on some TV viewers, including myself. “There are always alternatives,” he dead-panned in one episode, despite the fact that he and the starship crew were in the midst of a crisis that looked like certain doom.
Rachel Carson had just published “Silent Spring,” and started the environmental movement. Since then, the times have been a changin’ but they don’t seem to be a changin’ fast enough to put the brakes on the slow-motion ecological train wreck we appear to be the passengers on, and hear about with daily headlines.
When I meet with Deborah Pearson and Ginny Colling it’s over herbal tea and Mickael’s day-olds, and their only pressing deadline is a sleep yoga workshop, starting in an hour-and-a-half.
So, after busy professional careers — for Deborah 30 years of elementary school teaching (mostly with the Trillium Board, but also in Canada’s sub-arctic and in Europe), and for Ginny 29 years teaching Journalism and Public Relations at Durham College — this is the retirement lifestyle that fills their days?