By Lisa Boonstoppel-Pot
With a focus on climate and food, experts are saying the world needs another “green revolution” and a united strategy in Canada toward sustainable food. How will farmers produce more food while simultaneously cutting emissions? With predictions Canadian greenhouse emissions will increase by 26 per cent to 137 megatonnes from our current 93 megatonnes each year, it seems an impossible task. Could part of the answer go back to Biblical times? Remember the story of Naomi and Ruth, when Ruth gleaned grains from a field owned by Boaz? Admiring her loyalty and need, he told the workers to leave extra grain in the fields for her to gather. In October, wanting free corn for my rabbits, I took a wheelbarrow and “gleaned” the small, leftover cobs left on plants the combine missed from my field. Is there any possible way farmers could leave a percentage of plants in the field for the industrious to harvest by hand to feed their own families? Is it a crazy idea, or a community-building, urban-meets-rural, eat-local idea?
Hackberries are an uncommon tree, Ian Jean of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority told me after I planted several alongside maples, oaks and Tulip trees in a new plantation. However, they are common along the Maitland River. Wanting to see how the Hackberry saplings might look one day, I followed a farm trail along the river and discovered 10 giant, productive Hackberries with their simple leaves, gnarly bark and gorgeous wine-coloured berries. These berries are eaten by robins, cedar waxwings and mammals and the trees serves as host for the Hackberry emperor butterfly. Humans traditionally mixed the fruit with fat to produce a porridge-like substance. It’s not something I’m likely to eat but growing food for wildlife is a way to give too.
This picture is a shout-out to all the farmers who worked long hours at harvest. This fall’s warm temperatures and sporadic rainfall allowed crops to dry in the fields to reduce the need for mechanical drying and associated high fuel costs. This photo was taken along County Road 25 as the sun set over Lake Huron and it struck me that as drivers along the road, we were both getting a free show while getting our tasks done. Corn is a huge staple for many families and I love a good piece of roast turkey with stuffing, carrots and corn beside it for my Christmas dinner. Interestingly, I’ve seen more than one person announce on Facebook that they are not accepting Christmas gifts this year. With the reality that we all have too much stuff and landfills get filled with the old as we splurge on the new, they said only gifts of “experiences” are welcome. That, or donations to a good cause. I’m impressed by their foresight and save-the-planet goals and wish these forward-thinking planners and all of The Rural Voice readers the gift of family, friendship and faith this Christmas