Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Wow! What a view!! Considering how flat the land looks in this photo, one may think that this image was taken from a plane or a hot air balloon, but that’s not the case. This photo was taken somewhere along the edges of The Niagara Escarpment.

This natural phenomenon was created during the last ice age and it stretches from the southern portion of Ontario to very far north. While the surrounding lands remain hollowed out by the receding glaciers, the escarpment reaches up to some extreme heights.

Just a few minutes from where I grew up, in the valleys and hills of the escarpment, there is an area where one can see the night lights of Barrie and Toronto at the same time! This peak is thought to be the second highest landmark in Southern Ontario. This is my backyard!

But, lately the views and vistas have been filled with images of a different concern…

Ahhh – yes… the mega-quarry! Many of you may have read my detailed blog about this issue earlier this summer -http://bitsandpeaces08.blogspot.com/2011/06/dufferin-county-jobs-and-destruction.html . I’m not going repeat myself with all of the reasons why this proposed quarry will be the demise of this region, affecting six major rivers that flow through the Toronto and Niagara region of Ontario, cuz I already did that. I’m going to continue this story sharing the many things that the citizens of Southern Ontario are doing to preserve these lands for future generations…

It was mid July, in Orangeville, Ontario and I was going to a rally to support the halting of the mega-quarry. It didn’t take me long until I saw the first signs…

… telling me I was in the right area!!!

Just behind the town hall, groups of people were gathering to learn more about this issue and to find ways to help local organizations gather strength to challenge the American Industrialists who want to reap profit from Canadian soil.

It was a hot day, and many people found a small corner of shade to stand in while speakers took the stage to share with us.

I was extremely impressed with the caliber of all the speakers. We listened to farmers retell the stories of how they were tricked into selling their farmland. We listened to environmentalists detail the impact that this quarry will have on this land as well as neighbouring areas. We listened to local government officials as they encouraged us to continue fighting to preserve these unique lands.

I was most impressed with one of the speakers who told us that his goal was not to put a halt to just this quarry, but to set legislative precedence so that future proposals of this nature will require the environmental assessments that are now non existent. That’s right! This proposal to create North America’s second largest open-pit mine does NOT have to prepare an environmental assessment! That’s just wrong!!

There were booths where one could purchase signs of opposition to post onto front lawns, to help spread awareness. There were booths filled with petitions that were signed by all attendees. And there were booths filled with local chefs who had simple foods available for the crowds, to highlight the crop diversity from this region that would become spoiled if the plans for the mega-quarry cannot be halted.

I liked how the chefs had arranged a unique way to get the hungry people involved in making their own food. This is a bike-powered flourmill! If you wanted a homemade soft-shell taco for lunch you had to dedicate a few minutes of your time to grind the flour that would be used to make your taco shell!! Everyone thought that this was great!

It sure would have been a boring event if all we did was stand around and listen to people talk all day, so a variety of local musicians took to the stage between speakers. Coming from an area that has annual fiddling events, we were entertained with a few fiddlers, and a short while later these drummers entertained us.

Another event that happened this summer was the ‘Paint In’, which was hosted by The Artists United Against The Mega-Quarry.

30 artists had gathered to create a unique series of paintings depicting the beauty that these landscapes have to offer. Now that this issue had been building so much positive publicity, many people came to view these dedicated craftsmen in action!

Sandi Wong is the person who I’ve been in contact with to learn more about these art events. This is one of her creations. Absolutely gorgeous!

Just two weeks ago, Sandi organized the first of several art exhibits that will be taking place over the next year. Her paintings highlight both the rolling hills of the area and the ‘big sky’ that fills our heart while strolling along these country sideroads. I’m hoping to create another original landscape over this winter so that I can personally support this cause.

Sandi is compiling a large email list to keep interested people up to speed with these events, so if you would like to learn more please visit her website - www.sandiwongartist.com

Over the years, I have created many landscape paintings inspired this region of Southern Ontario. This painting was also the inspiration for a song that I wrote about a walk through the hills during a Thanksgiving visit to my parents’ - who still live in this area.

This region has always been an inspiration to me – it is the most beautiful region in all of Southern Ontario. I grew up here. This is the place that I call home! It will be interesting to see how my ambition to save my homeland affects my future art creations depicting this area.

So… these are some of the events that have happened in our recent history.

Now… I want to share one event that is going to be happening this coming weekend. I would love to learn that this blog inspired some people to visit this area and attend this event.

The following has been edited from an article appearing in the Toronto Star newspaper…

Chef Michael Stadtlander is the driving force behind Foodstock, an Oct. 16 fundraiser in support of the movement to Stop The Mega Quarry. He's in the potato field of Dave Vanderzaag, who is one of four farmers who didn't sell to an American-backed company that wants to develop one of Canada's biggest rock quarries. JASON VAN BRUGGEN PHOTO (from Toronto Star)
Activist chef Michael Stadtländer is spearheading a farm-based food protest and hopes 20,000 people will join him.

The Oct. 16 event is called Foodstock and it’s a pay-what-you-can culinary and musical rally against a proposed limestone mega quarry on prime agricultural land next to the Niagara Escarpment. The project’s opponents fear for the region’s water, farming and quality of life.

“We have to protect land that can grow food,” Stadtländer said Thursday. “We’re just at the dawn of localism, and after seeing the drought, hurricanes and floods that have happened in the United States, I think we had better secure where our food comes from.”

Most of the chefs are from southern Ontario, but at least three are coming from Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. Each will create a dish using locally grown or procured items like potatoes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, apples, smoked lake trout, beef and pork.

“In a way, you will taste the land that is in jeopardy,” promised Stadtländer, a longtime supporter of organic food and localism.

The article continues to mention that some prominent Canadian musicians will also be in attendance. Wouldn’t it be the coolest thing to spend the day winding your way through these hills at the height of the Autumn colours before settling down to the greatest meal you’ll ever have and while your on your way to the donation jar you shake hands with Jim Cuddy or Sarah Harmer!!!!?

Last Friday, I was at a library, researching news articles, and checking my emails for more information for this very blog, when a ‘chat’ bubble popped up on my Facebook page. It was from someone who used to be my neighbour. Jeremy Taggart asked me if I was going to be attending this event. I told him that I would love to go but since my wife is due to give birth to our son near that date, I just couldn’t take the risk.

Later, my wife joked and said that if we did go, and she did have our baby that it would be like Woodstock!!!

By this time, I figured that Jeremy was going to be there and I asked him about his plans for the day. He told me that he was to be the host for this event. Very cool, indeed!

I haven’t seen Jeremy since we were teenagers, right about the time when he decided to go out into the world to become the drummer for Our Lady Peace! It would have been great to see him again, so I could give him some of my peace Stik-ers to share with the band!!!

So… there ya go! One day! 20, 000 people! 70 Canadian chefs! And a handful of Canada’s finest musicians! Let’s make the Canadian government witness our united effort as we make a glorious stand to preserve our food and our land for our children and theirs!!!!!

‘Nuf said! I’m hungry… where does the food line start?


Can’t make it to Foodstock – then keep up to date on the ‘No Mega-Quarry’ Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/no.mega.quarry?sk=wall

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