Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tractor Canada - Join the Convoy

Join the CONVOY to Stop the Melancthon Mega Quarry.

Professor John Varty is crossing Canada by tractor, sponsored by Massey Ferguson, to research the state of our country’s farms.

Live music and free farmer’s potluck dinner to celebrate.

Bring Tractors of all colours, ages & sizes; horses & ponies, too.

Starting from Primrose, north on Hwy 124, ending at the Wallace farm - #625007 15 Sideroad, near the proposed Mega
Quarry site

For details - &

Albion Hills Community Farm (AHCF)

By Shelly Sargent

Barb Imrie & Karen Hutchinson are beaming these days, & with good reason. A project they’ve been heavily involved with for over two years – to start a Community Farm in Caledon - has come to fruition & will soon be offering the community educational programming that is centred on local food & sustainable farming practices. On May 7th, members of the farm’s advisory board, a group of volunteers, representatives from the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) & local dignitaries, gathered at the farm for an outdoor “work bee” & the Official Launch of the AHCF.

The TRCA has entered into a long term lease agreement with the Albion Hills Community Farm (AHCF) to farm approximately 76 acres of TRCA agricultural lands within the Albion Hills Conservation Area, just south of Palgrave. In partnership with TRCA, the AHCF will contribute towards a sustainable & accessible local food system by aligning food, farming, community, heritage, education & conservation.

The Albion Hills Community Farm & Learning Centre is a new model of what demonstration farms will be in the future. It includes food production, education (for youth, new & existing farmers & the public), community gardens, and the development of a food & farming hub & a Centre for Near-Urban Agriculture. The AHCF will marry the concepts of charitable learning with social enterprise to support program delivery.

Planting on site started with garlic in the fall of 2010, when field centre students planted garlic at AHCF. This initial planting is expected to produce between 10,000 & 12,000 cloves by the summer. This is something that excites Barb Imrie.

“This means there will be local garlic that’s near & local & nutritious,” she points out, going on to explain “At the moment, almost all of the garlic we eat in Ontario comes from China.”

Barb’s concern about this – shared by many - is two-fold: first, buying locally grown food stimulates he local economy & reduces the need for oil-guzzling transportation methods to get it here; second, China has been under the microscope numerous times for its questionable health & safety practices. Buying from a reputable local grower eliminates that concern & makes much more sense on both levels.
One of only two similar farming projects in Canada, the Albion Hills Community Farm will involve the community in educational programming around local food & sustainable farming practices. It has the potential to provide food for up to 48,000 meals for the two on-site education centres, based on season & availability. This food will help fulfill a TRCA local food policy which stipulates that by 2012 forty percent of the food TRCA serves will be grown or produced in Ontario. Produce will also be available to the community via gate sales, farmer’s markets & a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

In years past, students at the Albion Hills Conservation Area field centres offered an agriculture education option as part of their experience at the centres, but in November 2008 the AHCA’s original farm’s dairy operation discontinued & that option was no longer available. Thanks to the AHCF, this option is expected to be available again beginning in the fall of 2011. In addition, local children & youth involved in 4-H programs, summer camps & the AHCF HAYville program will also be offered the food & farming experience.

The Town of Caledon is the perfect spot for a project like AHCF. The Town is well recognized for innovative thinking & environmental excellence & has a strong agriculture base. In recent years, Caledon has become well known for its local food & farming work through the programs of the Caledon Countryside Alliance & Eat Local Caledon. Schools, local businesses, farmers, culinary destinations, local community groups & residents have all worked to develop a better system.

Further, Caledon Mayor Marolyn Morrison has been the driving force behind the Greater Toronto Countryside Mayor’s Alliance, an organization that’s been at the forefront of developing a voice & pushing for greater economic viability for the countryside. With support from the Town of Caledon, the community & the Toronto Region Conservation, Caledon is poised to be a perfect location for a Centre for Sustainable Near-Urban Agriculture & to develop a rural based Food & Farming Hub or a Community Food & Farming Centre. Both of these are new concepts & demonstrate the farm’s potential to help lead the repowering of the local food & farm system in Ontario.

If you’d like more information about the Albion Hills Community Farm, contact Barb Imrie at

AHCF Timeline & Progress to date:

 May 2009: TRCA issued a Request for Proposals to lease Albion Hills parcels (including the former dairy farm) for land uses, compatible with their policy mandate of Sustainable Near Urban Agriculture;
 August 2009: Caledon residents & organization were awarded the right to lease farm’
 February 2010: Albion Hills Community Farm (AHCF) was formed & incorporated as a charitable non-profit. An Executive Board of Directors (4) with Board members from the Caledon Countryside Alliance, Palgrave Environment Committee, Peel 4-H & Everdale Environmental Learning Centre was created;
 2009/2010: A strategic vision & plan, a fundraising plan & organizational infrastructure were all developed;
 2010: AHCF began an active fundraising campaign
 November 1, 2010: Formal lease signed after AHCF negotiated with TRCA to lease the main farm & three additional parcels
 May 7, 2011: AHCF Official Launch & work bee.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Green T and Credit Valley Conservation Team Up Again!

Talk about exciting fall events...

You won’t want to miss the Sept 28th Green T environmental speakers’ night! For the 2nd year in a row, Green T & Credit Valley Conservation have teamed up to bring a special speakers evening. The venue is the beautiful SGI Caledon Centre just north of Alton. This is a beautiful location any time of year, but at its prime in autumn, and we are fortunate to be able to visit at this time!

Guest speakers on this special night will include climate change expert and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Don MacIver and artist and award-winning author Franke James. And Franke is bound to have some copies of her infamous book Bothered by my Green Conscience with her. A poster is attached. Reserve your seat early; the last time we were in this venue we filled 126 seats.

You’ll even get an opportunity to meet Stacey Fokas, and grab an autographed copy of her just-released book "freshalicious" (eat fresh, eat local, eat healthy).

Last but not least - we’ll have on hand a limited number of our brand new fab-design Green T shirts. This new shirt, adorned with a trendy “word-cloud”, is 100% certified organic cotton and Canadian-made and Caledon-purchased.

The best news is that it’s free with your purchase of a 2011 Green T membership, as long as supplies last.

To guarantee your free shirt with membership mail your $30 membership fee in now to 209 Foundry Street, Bolton, ON L7E2P7 – payable to “Green TEA”. Or you can pay conveniently online at Pay your 2011 membership, in either fashion, and we’ll have a shirt waiting for you on Sept 28th.

DATE: TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 28th at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30)

SGI Canada Caledon Centre for Culture and Education
20490 Porterfield Rd (Cty Rd 136), Alton

Looking forward to seeing you for an awesome Green T night – don’t miss it!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Overseeding with clover

by Shelly Sargent

It's been a while since we posted here on the blog, and we really do apologise. It's been a hectic early summer for all of us thus far and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon! When casting about for blog topics, I wanted to keep things seasonal, and realised that all I had to do was look outside my window to find a great topic!

Remember this spring - when we were over run by a sea of dandilions? If course, all of us greenies are thoroughly delighted that Ontario has banned pesticides and herbicides. But though this is good news for organic gardeners and great for the environment, it does means that the green manicured lawns of the past are much more difficult (and expensive) to maintain. This is particularly true for those of us who live on larger lots or rural properties with large areas of lawn.

Since xeriscaping (removing lawn and replacing it with drought tolerant plantings and mulch, etc.) didn't seem to be the perfect fit for our situation like it was for some of my friends, I decided to look at other solutions. Now I am a hap-hazard lawn doctor at best: I've never been consistent with fertilizer, and have always hated chemicals (even before it was cool to hate them) - refusing to use them. When we lived in the city, this always meant we'd have a few weeds, but neighbours who sprayed usually kept the weed population at bay. Once we moved to a larger rural property in Caledon, I realized I'd have to get serious about weed management.

A few years ago, I was talking to a neighbour about the encroachment of dandilions and other lawn weeds. This gentleman is one of those people who seems to know a bit about everything and he suggested that I over-seed the larger areas of my lawn with white dutch clover, noting that it is a low growing, mannerly plant that spreads well, and discourages many of the undesireables. It mows like grass, mingles politely with existing grass and looks and smells wonderful in the blooming season.

I liked the idea, particularly when I realized that the bees would also love the clover. Since I knew that bees are the primary source for pollination in any garden and that they need all the support mankind can give them to help bring them back, I figured this could be my small way to help out. So off I went to the local farm supply, told him what I was doing and why and came home with a bag of clover seed.

In retrospect, I likely should have read up on how to sow the seed and when, but I just hand-broadcast the seed onto our lower lawn in mid-June and sat back to see what would happen. Truthfully, in the first year, we had a few patches of clover - which looked a bit messy - and that's about it. It is now the third summer since we over-seeded, and I'm now truly starting to see why a clover lawn is a great thing.

Not only is a clover lawn easy to care for, since it doesn't grow as tall as grass (less mowing), but it is also a natural food for my lawn. Apparently clover used to be a fairly standard addition to most grass seed mixtures because it grew well where soil conditions wouldn't support grass alone. A little online research has also determined that clover (which is a legume, by the way) stores atmospheric nitrogen in little white "nodules" on its roots. When annual clover dies, that nitrogen is released as natural plant food - hey presto: it automatically nourishes your lawn! Nifty! I like anything that saves me a step!

The other day, my dad and I sat on lawn chairs in a sea of white clover, breathing in that sweet, clean smell of clover in bloom and watching the bees busily going about their work amongst the pretty little white flowers, and I realized that all things considered, I'm very happy with my clover/grass lawn. It is very much a work in progress, and I'm still learning how to care for and maintain it. But I really like the way things are heading!

Easy to care for, anti-chemical, supports bees and pollination, resilient and attractive (even with a bunch of kids and a dog running all over it)... to me, clover is the perfect lawn!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Life Lessons and Learning to Love Worms

Tuesday, June 1st, Green T Environmental Speaker's Night
If you have a couple of hours on June 1st, I hope you'll join Green T at our final Speaker's night before the summer break. It is going to be an exceptional evening - one you won't want to miss.

Our first speaker of the evening will be Cathy Nesbitt – worm advocate and
founder of Cathy’s Crawly Composters. Cathy believes that the solution to the garbage crisis is actually several solutions, and one of those solutions is vermicomposting. In her presentation, Cathy will help us discover how to convert organic matter into nature’s finest soil amendment as we find out how red wiggler worms benefit the environment.

Cathy’s engaging presentation will include a 15-minute session for members in the audience who’d like to make their own mini worm kit. Children are welcome to join us for this speaker's night, but please be aware that there is a modest $5.00 fee to participate in the childrens’ take-home mini worm kit portion of Cathy’s presentation. This presentation is sure to inspire all kids - from 4-94.

Up next is Damian MacSeáin – born in Wawa, and raised in Peel, Damian MacSeáin is the son of Irish immigrants. Together with his Aboriginal wife and children, Damian ventured north to his wife’s fly-in James Bay Cree community, a place where timeless traditions and modern development meet head on. What could this possibly have to do with our GTA lifestyle? Everything! “Life Lessons from the North: A Year in Peetabeck” uses pictures and stories to communicate
Damian’s “Top Ten Take-aways” from his amazing year-long adventure

So mark the date:
Tuesday June 1, 2010
from 7:00 to 9:15 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
at the Albion Bolton Union Community Centre (ABUCC)
150 Queen Street South, Bolton (auditorium, second floor).

Admission is $5.00 per person

Seniors, students, and Green T members are admitted free.

As always, light refreshments will be served:
Fair trade coffee from Palgrave’s Buckstown Beans
organic teas from Caledon East’s Tea Boutique
Plus: tempting tidbits from Bolton’s Soup du Jour.

We encourage all attendee's to register in advance- so we have enough tempting tidbits, :) and as always - please BYOM (Bring Your Own Mug).

RSVP: Patti Foley (905) 951-0625

Green T would like to thank the Caledon Public Library for their support in sponsoring this event.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Caledon's Spring Clean Up Day

by Shelly Sargent

The beginning of May is arguably one of the most beautiful times of year... it is warmed by sunshine and everywhere you look is another reminder of spring -tender buds, fresh growth, fragrant blooms, garbage...

GARBAGE? Yep - lots of it. Its caught in shrubs and fences, laying on the side of the road and blowing in the spring breezes. The sad reality is that during the wild and woolly winds of our Canadian fall and winter, a lot of trash gets sent flying out of unsecured blue boxes & trash cans or whipped out of frozen fingers in parking lots. Add to that the mountain of junk that gets tossed out of vehicle windows by those who can't wait that 20 minutes to get home and throw their burger wrapper in the garbage and you've got the makings of a nasty mess on the roadside come the spring thaw.

Of course we all shake our heads and mutter "tsk tsk" as we drive by, but a better way to respond is to help do something about it! And each year, hundreds of volunteers in Caledon do just that! Many residents do a roadside clean up individually, as a family or with their schools. Its quite common to see a lone individual armed with gloves and a garbage bag, combing the side of the road for refuse. Here' s a virtual high five to anyone who's ever done this!

Caledon has a few annual community clean up days, and on Saturday, May 1st, Green T will be assisting with one of them. The annual Community Clean-Up Day is sponsored by Tim Hortons, the Town of Caledon and the Caledon Chamber of Commerce. Green T members are encouraged to join in with organizers & volunteers from the community as we all head out to do our bit!

Registration is at 9:30 a.m. at the Caledon Centre for Recreation and Wellness – the first 200 will receive free T-shirt and gloves. Then we’ll go out in teams to do our collecting, returning to the Wellness Centre at noon for a free volunteer appreciation BBQ.

I have heard that students can claim this volunteer towards their community service hours, so bring the kids too!

I've sent out an email to councillors and Caledon community groups/residents associations in other areas of Caledon to see if there will be other clean up days taking place. As I get any new information, I'll share it with a new blog entry!

See you on the roadside! :)

Jim Hope of the Valleywood Residents Association sent us the info that Valleywood will be having its Cleanup Day on May 29 this year to clear the park and flower beds around the park, the library and the fire hall. This is an annual event and the garden club and Valleywood residents all pitch in to help as well as cleaning their own yards of waste and trash. He tells us the details should be on their website sometime in the coming week, so if you want more info, visit

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Water, water.....but not everywhere?

Wondering about just how scarce the supply of fresh water might actually be?
Check this out:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

For the joy of it...

by Shelly Sargent

It would be so easy to get hung up on the serious side of recycling and being environmentally responsible, and no question - it is a serious issue. But there are thousands of ways to embrace environmental responsibility while being lighthearted and creative, and every once in a while its good to remind ourselves of that.

Here is a link to a blog that does just that:
Forwarded to me by a friend, this blog does not feature a local Caledon story, but it is a wonderful example of what I'm talking about. Ann Wood is an artist living in Brooklyn, NY. She creates using vintage items as her inspiration and her material. In her own words:

"I make things, paint, and draw for my life and livelihood. I work with mostly found, and salvaged materials, many of them vintage or antique garments. There is a kind of affection and tenderness in the re-use and re-purposing of things that were once personal and perhaps treasured possessions."

Just wanted to share some of this talented artist's creations with you! If anyone knows of local artisans doing similar joyful projects using recycled and repurposed items, please let me know (Shelly -! We'd love to feature their work here!

Monday, March 1, 2010

The "Cost" of a Drink of Water

by Shelly Sargent

After a while, most of us become comfortable with the "basics" of living a responsible green life. We get good at recycling and composting, simplify our lives, buy products that won't harm the environment. We avoid over-packaged goods, recharge our batteries, walk as much as possible, wash in cold, dry on the line and switch to eco-friendly light bulbs.

It may take some time, but sooner or later, we end up having done most of the simple things that are available to us and start looking around for new "eco-mountains" to climb.

And I suppose that is why - lately - I find myself pouring over "green" websites. I've been looking for new (and easy) green initiatives to put into practice. As I find them, I'll try to remember to share here - it is nice to find out about simple actions which will reduce our energy footprints. It's even better to find out WHY these thing are better for the environment.

In my recent "virtual" travels, I found some every interesting pieces of information that made me re-think the way I go about getting a cold glass of water. We all know bottled water is bad news (using as much as 2000 times the energy to produce as tapwater does, according to So we all agree that we should drink plain old tap water. But did you know there are a multitude of ways to get yourself a simple glass of water, some of which are way better for the environment than others?

The question is - should you run the tap until the water is cold before you fill your glass, or fill your glass with "room temperature" tap water then dropin a couple of ice cubes from the freezer? Or should we simply keep a container of cold water in the fridge, ready for drinking whenever we need it.

Of course we know that that all three methods have an "eco-cost" (pretty much everything does). Tap water must be treated, pumped and stored - all things that use energy. And making the water nice and cold means we have to find a way to cool it. Refrigeration uses power, freezers use even more. So running the tap to make water cold is the best way, right? WRONG!

But I was a bit surprised to find out that - of all the options above - running the tap is apparently the worst waste of energy and the pitcher of water in the fridge wins out over the other options.

Remember mom yelling "Shut the fridge door before you let all the cold out!" ? She was right. Refrigerators waste energy every time the fridge door is opened and cold "escapes" to be replaced with warmer room air. The longer the door is open, the more energy it takes to get the fridge cold again. They say that each time the fridge door is opened for a few seconds, up to 1.4 watts of electricity is used. Freezers use just about double that amount (about 2.8 watts of electricity) when the door is opened. Running the tap to get to cold water wastes water AND wastes the energy used to treat, pump, and deliver it. It is estimated that for each gallon of water running out of your kitchen tap, you "spend" about 1.5 watts of power. It doesn't take long to run a couple of gallons of water to "get to the cool stuff".

So on that level alone, keeping a pitcher of water in the fridge is the most energy efficient option of the three. But there is also a "bonus" reason: a fridge full of cold foods and drinks maintains its internal temperature easier than an empty fridge. So that large container of cold water helps do the job!

So there you have it... the eco-friendly way to have a drink... and a few of the reasons why!

Sources: &