A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Monday, February 20, 2012

RVN Survey now online.

This is just a heads up to inform my readers that the 'Let Your Voice Be Heard' Public Survey sponsored by the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario via their project titled the 'Rural Voices Network' is now available online. The survey is the culmination of a one year project which included a series of forums to identify what questions to ask and what issues were important to rural citizens. Having just completed the survey I can say that it looks like they are asking all the right questions, the question then becomes what will become of the report to be issued in late June.

I originality became involved in this project in that part of the outcome desired was to establish a “Web portal designed to foster a living ‘Rural Voices Network’ to “facilitate community engagement and collaboration through online forums.”. As far as I know at this point in time this development of a major online forum is dependent upon both the result of the survey and receiving funding for the project to extend beyond the first year. This is something that is being pursued but has not yet, as far as I know, materialized. Whilst the results of the survey and the ensuing report will no doubt be very interesting, unless it leads to some PRACTICAL ways of enhancing rural communications and collaboration it is in danger of becoming just another report gathering dust on the shelf, and there is quite a pile of those there already!

One of the best of those is the Senate report Beyond Freefall: Halting Rural Poverty. Here is a summary of parts of the report:-
Full report (2.4 Mb PDF)

Of particular interest in these discussions may be their recommendation to have more government services available from rural post offices (how about some of those Service Canada 'services') and their commentary on the need (indeed necessity) for rural residents to own and operate a vehicle.

Here are some posts regarding the governments dismal response, with links:-

Also of interest may be the National Symposium on How to Build a Sustainable Rural Canada entitled One Vision, Many Voices held in Edmonton, Alberta in July of 2008

My synopsis and comments

The report can be found here (36 pages - 3.9Mb PDF)

The net result of these reports and meetings of which I have only mentioned a small proportion has been basically ZERO! So whilst I encourage my fellow rural residents to fill in the survey (which can be found here) , I also encourage those who may wish to sponsor a comprehensive online forum or those who may have particular expertise in that area to contact The Rural Voices Network and offer funds or support in this regard. In these days of government austerity we may not get much help from that direction, but with a comprehensive on line forum at least we could coordinate our response to changes, share ideas for community development and perhaps save a village or two from disappearing into obscurity. You may comment upon the RVN project or add to the discussions at the online forum which may be viewed here, you will need to register however to post to the forum.

(a note for dial up users, have patience the survey site is a little slow to respond and comprised of about 6 pages totaling about 1.5mb – but prizes can be won upon completion!)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mennonites show how its done!

A recent trip to the Elmira area made me aware of The Elmira Produce Auction Co-operative, an auction center for local produce that has met with enormous success and has spawned an increase in market garden operations in the area as well as providing existing farmers with an outlet for their produce. It seem like we have a lot to learn from this Mennonite community, this is a model that should be followed across the country to provide LOCAL fresh food in large quantities to local retailers as well as supporting our struggling produce growers.

Below are a couple of clips from an information PDF, for more Google “mennonite+produce+auction “

The Elmira Produce Auction Co-operative is Canada’s first wholesale produce auction and it is an important part of the closely-knit Mennonite community north of Kitchener-Waterloo. As a result of the BSE crisis Mennonite beef farmers began to explore other avenues of agricultural production. They started growing more vegetables and fruits but needed a way to sell their products if they chose not to market directly to the public. ......

The auction occurs three times a week during the summer season and once a week in the spring and fall in the co-op’s 8,000 square foot building in Elmira. Preference is given to produce grown within a 75 kilometre radius; however, if there is space the management will give the approval for producers that have traveled greater distances to sell at the auction..........

Both small- scale and larger producer members sell at the produce auction. This creates a variety of different vegetables and fruits as well as varying quantities of pro- duce which helps the buyers who come from a range of backgrounds. The largest group of buyers tend to be farmers’ market vendors or farmers with farm gate businesses. Grocery stores and universities also regularly partake in the auction to source the locally-grown produce. The co-operative has experienced a 600 percent increase in sales since it began in 2004. The auction doubled in sales every year for the first three years of operation and increased 30 percent in 2008. Because the auction is gaining in popularity, the co-operative decided to expand the building and parking lot for the 2009 season.............

In 2008, the auction sold 210,000 pounds of tomatoes, 160,000 pounds of potatoes, 14,000 cases of lettuce, 4,100 bins of watermelons, 100,000 pounds of carrots, 269 boxes of asparagus and a long list of other products.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mothers fur coat?

Out here in the country we like to keep a few chickens to provide us with fresh eggs and a couple of months ago we found one of our flock with the neck tore out laying on the floor of the pen, obviously a weasel had set up shop nearby and decided that our chickens looked like an easy meal. After loosing a couple more to the same predator we caged them up at night in a cage with small enough mesh to stop said carnivore, that being about ¾” as it seems that they can squeeze through 1' holes as our lack of success in trapping them in the following weeks with a large live trap proved.

After a few weeks we again let the chickens out at night, it being a major hassle to cage them each night and the heated water supply not being suited for the smaller cage, and thought for a while that he had buggered off. But no, it was not to be within a week he was back reducing our flock again and even killing our Pea hen. At that point I gave up, opened the pen to the yard and let the remainder (2 hens and a Peacock) roam hoping that they could escape execution, but that move also was in vain as we now just have Mr P remaining, he having abandoned the pen entirely and making his home on the edge of the bush by out garden shed.

At this point none of us had actually seen the rotten little killer but a couple of days ago my son was getting some wood from the woodshed attached to the bird pen and saw a long white skinny animal with a black tip to his furry tail, yep, we have an Ermine.........

I don’t really care how nice a fur coat he has, he is still dead meat if I can ever catch him, and my efforts in that regard continue. Over the years I have had, and dealt with, foxes & racoons taking domestic birds but this guy so far has out smarted me being able to get into, and out of, just about anywhere or anything. Back in the bush I have great tolerance for our wild animals and in fact encourage them with brush piles and minimal disturbance but when they migrate up to the house, sorry but they have to go!

Its always a tough balance between the wild and human habitat but having provided and maintained a bush area for our wild critters I feel no compunction to put up with their invading my space even though I know I have invaded theirs. Each of us must find their own level of tolerance but when wild life starts endangering health, domestic flocks, pets or even children, as has happened recently in some cities then perhaps one has to 'bite the bullet' so to speak and take action.

And that’s the way it looks here in these wooded hills as the hunt continues.