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FACE PLANT
- Reggie Luukkonen shows just how it’s done during the fourth, and likely last, Mudnewton Mudrun, which was held this past Saturday. Organizers Andy Luukkonen and Erin Bennett say that around 600 people took part in the dirty race to the finish line, and although not all totals are in yet, they estimate $3,500 was raised to go towards the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program here in Uxbridge. Almost every sporting association and club in Uxbridge has been the beneficiary of Jumpstart dollars, which, when raised in Uxbridge, stay in Uxbridge. Unfortunately, this may be the last Mudnewton Mudrun, as organizers said there was too much red tape to go through and too many restrictions put on the event by the Township.
Photos by John Cavers
 

Sustainability and Sustenance on Tycoed Restorative Farms

by Amy Hurlburt

This past spring, Lee and June Davies embarked on landscaping project that was more than your typical spring clean-up. It involved a rather noticeable lifestyle change: their yard, previously a rolling hill of green grass with a small flower garden, was overhauled, redesigned, and planted. Now it overflows with squash, beans, corn, and many other organic vegetables. The seed for this change was planted in their minds earlier on in the year, through a flyer they received in the mail.
“We met Phil Collins - not the musician! - of Foggy River Farm at the orchard workshop, and met with him a few weeks later,” commented June.
Their property, now known as Tycoed Restorative Farm, is a little over 20 acres of property on Lake ridge Road that they plan to fill with gardens and a variety of produce over the next few phases of development. Their gardens use the principles of permaculture: a creative design process based upon ethical and aesthetic design that mimics the patterns found naturally in nature, and applying them to human habitation.
The passion Lee and June Davies have for environmentally responsible, sustainable living is contagious, and admirably consistent: from the cars they drive, to the “recycled” log homes dating back to the 1840s that they've combined to create their living space. They also have a commitment to using wind and solar energy, two elements that are abundant on their property. While neither of them were heavy gardeners earlier - Lee dabbled some - they've both found the experience to be enriching.
“You develop relationships with the plants as you walk through the garden and watch them grow,” notes June.
While both June and Lee agree that they certainly expect that the first year is going to be the biggest investment financially, the gardens take time to tend, as well as preserving the produce once it's been harvested is another time commitment. While their commitment is to, in the long term, have a variety of perennials, they've only just begun and the majority of their current crop is composed of annuals. Some of the trees they intend on planting will take about 15 years to produce any sort of crop. “Some of these may be for the grandkids to take on,” says Lee.
Besides the cold, late spring that the region experienced, they've run into several other bumps along the way, including drainage issues and tomato blight. The work involved is also heavier than they expected initially. However, they both find it to be well worth the effort.
“There's something very different about eating food you've grown yourself,” says June. “When you buy your produce in a grocery store, being shipped from California-maybe in a refrigerated truck, but sprayed with all kinds of chemicals…it's not the same.”
The gardens are really only part of the process: the interests of the Davies' family are interconnected: their commitment to the values of kindness, sustainability, bioregional living; physical, mental, and spiritual health; community collaboration, and education-to name a few. They plan to share their abundant crops with diverse groups, and to encourage a community sharing lifestyle. They've also committed to taking advantage of the opportunities of the farm by doing workshops through various stages of the process. They are inviting others to share and learn with them, in hopes that the sustainable lifestyle they support will catch on and inspire others as well. The importance of the watershed and understanding bioregional divides is a passion of June's as well, and plays into the long-term vision for Tycoed.
“Wherever you live, there are opportunities. Even if it's in an apartment in town, there are ways to start to grow your own food” explains Lee. “We want to encourage people to do the little bit they can.”
The H.O.P.E Permaculture Tour (Homesteading Organically to Produce Ecosystems) will be taking place over the weekend of October 18-19, with tours around six different locations that have applied permaculture principles to their properties. For further details or to register, use this link: http://permaculturetour.eventbrite.com/?aff=Tycoed. To keep up with the farm's progress, you can also check them out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tycoedrestorativefarm.

 

Meanwhile, Back at the Manse by Barb Pratt

A Special Moment

What a moment we had at last Saturday's presentation of Maud of Leaskdale! Present in the audience for the performance were L.M. Montgomery's granddaughter and great-granddaughter. It was the first time they had seen the play, and there were hugs, and a few tears, from audience members. Tonight (Thursday, August 28) is the last of this season's performances of the wonderful play, so brilliantly conceived and put together by Conrad Boyce. What a season Jennifer Carroll, as Maud, has had: the enthusiastic audience in St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in downtown Toronto; the rave reviews from Charlottetown's performance; and more and more raves from those who saw the play at the Historic Leaskdale Church, the venue for which it was written. Tonight we'll say a fond farewell to Jen as Maud, if only for the time being.
Come and bring your friends to “Maud's Garden of Quilts”, which runs this Saturday and Sunday, August 30 and 31. The doors open at 10 a.m. A beautiful variety of quilts will be on display, some old, some recently created, some hand quilted, some machine stitched. Some will be for sale. What we can count on is a profusion of eye-popping colour and design. There will be special exhibits for quilters and would-be quilters, and a feature quilter will be on hand to give demonstrations and answer questions. All this takes place both upstairs and downstairs in the church; the pews are being moved aside to make room for the huge display quilt racks upstairs; in the downstairs will be more quilts, demos, displays, and a tea room that will be open for lunches and snacks all day. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Admission is $5, but - by popular demand - men are free!
Please mark October 25 on your calendar. That is the date of our annual “Lucy Maud Montgomery Day”, an annual event that has been running for at least 20 years. This year's program will be outstanding, with four very respected academics and authors as speakers. Laura Robinson, assistant professor and head of English Literature at the Royal Military College of Canada, will address the effect of the First World War on Montgomery's life and writing. The theme “Maud the Storyteller” will occupy the three other speakers, as they will delve into Montgomery's methods and construction of her fiction and short stories. We will give more details about the day in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, plan to attend part or all of the day.
The Wednesday luncheons were more popular than ever this summer. Three of the eight were absolutely sold out. Average attendance was around 40 to 50 each Wednesday, spiking to 60 at times. The Downton Abbey Tea was most popular of all. Everyone appreciated the fabulous Edwardian food and decorations, the staff in their black uniforms and frilly white aprons, and the Dowager's commentary, prepared and presented by our “dowager”, Kathy Wasylenky.
We will be brainstorming themes and programs for the 2015 season; it will be hard to top 2014.

 


 



View from the Hill by Erin O’Toole, MP


Governing in the Digital Age

I have a vivid memory from my adolescence about the first time I used a pay phone. The phone was located in the old Bowmanville Arena on Queen Street where Rotary Park now sits. My Dad let me use the phone after my hockey game to let me tell my Mom that I had scored my first goal. It cost ten cents to make this priceless call and the phone in the arena was just one of tens of thousands that dotted the landscape. Today, you have to look long and hard to find a pay phone or phone booth. In the last five years alone, 15,000 pay phones have been removed because of the decline in use. The reason for the disappearance of the traditional pay phone is the communications revolution over the last two decades and rapidly changing consumer habits. Today, 83 per cent of Canadian families have at least one cell phone, and many homes are dropping the traditional phone line and are opting for wireless service alone. When my 3-year old son Jack scores his first goal in a few years he will use my cellular phone to call someone after the game. In fact, our entire family will likely already know about the goal because a proud dad will have already posted it to Facebook for the world to see.
I use this memory to illustrate how much society has changed in the increasingly connected world of instant communication. Today, people are more likely to email, text or use social media to communicate than they are to use the phone. As people's habits change, companies and governments must adapt to these changes or risk falling seriously behind. Perhaps the only area of traditional communications to feel the impact of this technological revolution more than the lonely pay phone is traditional mail. I am a big sender of mail and have been for many years because people appreciate the extra thoughtfulness that goes into sending a card or letter. However, as Canadians have adopted email and other forms of instant communication many have stopped using mail services. This decline has been compounded in recent years by the move to electronic bill payment, direct deposit and online banking.
Canada Post is a government-owned corporation that since 1981 has operated independently from government from a financial and operational standpoint. Over the last eight years, Canada Post has delivered one billion fewer pieces of mail than over the previous period and they estimate this decline to continue dramatically in the years to come. Canada Post is operating at a loss and they estimate that the decline in mail use will lead to annual operating losses of $1 billion per year by 2020. To compound matters, Canada Post also has a pension shortfall that is currently in the $4 billion range. It was clear to Canada Post that major changes were needed to avoid billions of dollars in liabilities to the taxpayer, so they launched an action plan earlier this year.
The two main ways that Canada Post hopes to reduce its losses are through raising the cost of stamps and by the elimination of door-to-door delivery for those homes that have it. I have heard from quite a few people who are understandably concerned about losing mail delivery on their doorstep, but it is important to note that two-thirds of Canadians do not have delivery to their door. In fact, a majority of the residents of Uxbridge do not have doorstep delivery. Rural residents have never had this type of service, and newer suburban developments like the one I live in have been using community mailboxes for many years. Canada Post estimates that the cost to deliver to a doorstep is twice as much as delivery to a community mailbox. This is why they have placed this controversial change in their plan to get their costs under control. They have to control costs because they do not forecast a rebound in the use of mail as online communications continue to become the norm.
While Canada Post operates independently, the government of Canada remains the “owner” of the agency. This has led to some voices calling on the government to intervene and stop the changes to mail delivery. I understand the changes are difficult, particularly for some seniors, but I support the changes being made by Canada Post because I don't want to see taxpayers burdened with billions of dollars in liabilities in the future. I also believe that it is critical for government - and its agencies - to operate prudently and adapt to changes in the marketplace and in society. It would be easy to kick the can down the road and let a government in the future deal with the billions in losses, but I think that actually puts mail service itself at greater risk and it is not responsible governance.

 



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