Students take Bite of Brant
Milking a fake cow, making apple cider, grinding wheat and petting animals are just some of the activities local Grade 5 students participated in at the Bite of Brant on Wednesday. Two barns at the Burford fairgrounds were filled with 20 volunteer stations eager to teach students about the various aspects of agriculture. Brantford Expositor story.
Local farmers hope to harvest a world record
If you take about 200 combines and let them loose on about 160 acres of soybeans, what do you get? A new world record — at least that’s what several area farmers are hoping for. The group is making plans to harvest a field of soybeans this September in under 10 minutes. But snagging a world record isn’t the biggest priority – they’re also doing it to help feed the hungry and support the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Listowel Banner story.
Spring brings thaw in city’s bureaucracy on boulevard gardening
There’s much to toast in Sylvie Oliveira’s front yard. The warm spring air that embraces us like a returning lover. (Where have you been these months?) The sprig of forsythia it has teased from the ground, its canary-coloured buds a promise to not leave again for months. The city’s sudden decision, after months of growling letters, to let us all plant radishes along with roses in the city-owned mud in front of our houses. Even bureaucracy has thawed! Behold, the wonder of spring. If we could, we’d snap off two red shepherd peppers from their stems and raise them like wine glasses. But they are mere seedlings growing from pots in Oliveira’s playroom window. So, we poke around at the dirt in search of surviving rhubarb and leeks. Toronto Star story.
Guelph officials examining massive quarry proposal
City staff are analyzing a proposed quarry more than 60 kilometres from here to determine whether Guelph should take an official position on it. “We’re trying to put some summary information together for council and we hope to have it for (the council meeting) next Tuesday,” Peter Busatto, the city’s general manager of water services, said. The Highland Companies is seeking permission to open an enormous 2,300-acre limestone quarry just north of Shelburne in Melancthon Township. Guelph resident Karen Balcom recently wrote to Mayor Karen Farbridge and city councillors, asking them to have staff examine the quarry proposal and to contact Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Ministry of Natural Resources to seek an extension to the deadline for public comments, which is next Tuesday. Guelph Mercury story.
DFA advises MNR on Melancthon quarry issues
The Dufferin Federation of Agriculture acts in the interest of farming in Dufferin and has over 500 farm businesses as members. Farmers in Dufferin generated over $86 M in farm cash receipts in 2009. According to the 2006 Census, farms in Dufferin accounted for over 16,000 weeks of work for hired labour, most that in year-round employment. The Dufferin Federation of Agriculture is writing to advise the MNR of its opposition to an aggregate licence being approved for the Highland Companies application in Melancthon Township. Orangeville citizen story
Prime agricultural land shouldn’t be lost to quarry
Melancthon Township will never be the same again if the application submitted for the Highland quarry is approved. Presently, when you take a summer drive north of Shelburne on Hwy. 124, you see flourishing fields of potatoes and other crops that are being grown on the most productive soils in Ontario. Should the quarry be approved, you will see a huge hole, a 2,300-acre pit that goes down 60m below the water table and lots of heavy truck traffic. The Dufferin Federation of Agriculture (DFA) objects to the approval of an aggregate application for a 937-hectare (2,300-acre) quarry in Melancthon Township. The DFA represents more than 500 farm businesses in the County of Dufferin. Prime agriculture land is the first pillar of a secure food supply for future generations of farmers and Ontarians. Leo Blydorp, director and policy advisor, Dufferin Federation of Agriculture letter to the editor, Orangeville Banner.
Ontario Farmland Trust Forum – A Great Exchange and Some Reflections
Last month I participated in a well-attended and worthwhile event with some 130 other professionals from across Ontario gathered at the University of Guelph The intent of the Renewing Rural Economies Forum was to explore opportunities for collaboration and new policy directions in support of agricultural economic development and farmland preservation . The forum brought together municipal planners, economic development officers and councillors, as well as various provincial ministries and the farm community, to cooperatively respond to the complex economic challenges facing Ontario’s agricultural sector. Norman Regetlie post on Rural Ontario Institute website.
County a house divided
Asked point-blank by Ontario Municipal Board adjudicator Joe Wong if he felt that Perth County’s Official Plan goes too far in prohibiting the severance of surplus farmhouse properties, Scott Oliver hesitated at first. “I’m very conflicted on it,” said the planner with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, suggesting that there are two different schools of thought, and two ways of approaching the issue. Stratford Beacon Herald story.
Final summations made at farmhouse severance OMB hearing
Appropriate land-use planning or a potential threat to agriculture? That’s what an Ontario Municipal Board must decide now after both sides summed up their cases last Thursday, March 31 in the debate over whether to allow the severance of surplus farmhouse properties in Perth County. Perth South and West Perth have appealed a decision by county council not to allow those severances, arguing that they’re necessary to help prevent a loss of housing, a decline in rural population and a decrease in assessment in their municipalities. Mitchell Advocate story.
A New World -Wide Network Emerges from Global Greenbelts Conference in Toronto, Ontario
Ontario’s Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is proud to announce that it will take the lead on facilitating the establishment of a world-wide Greenbelt Network. The Network was founded at the Global Greenbelts Conference in Toronto, Ontario on March 24th, 2011. This Network will provide an ongoing conversation across the globe for solutions to universal greenbelt challenges like enhancing thriving rural communities, providing sustainable urban settlements and protecting valuable water resources. The Network will also provide knowledge and experience through exchange of information, as well as will advocate for new greenbelts and growth of existing ones. Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation news release.
AND IF YOU HAVE TIME
NextDrop: mobile water tracking system updates local residents
The NextDrop system, designed and set up by a team of Stanford and Berkeley graduate students, began operations in Hubli, India last year, having won a grant from the Gates Foundation, according to a report on MobileActive.org. In order to communicate with residents when the water is available, valvemen call the NextDrop interactive voice response system upon opening their neighborhood valves. NextDrop then texts the inhabitants of the area the news that water is being piped 30 – 60 minutes before it arrives, as well as texting the engineers at the utility live data on the water delivery. Residents are then contacted randomly to verify the accuracy of the data supplied by the valvemen. If there is any conflict between the data supplied by the valvemen and the residents, the engineers are alerted. These engineers are also able to step in if the valves are not initially reported open when they should be. Website.