Thursday, April 26, 2012

Trees Ontario's Newest Green Leader Makes "Nowhere Farms" the Place to Plant

TORONTO, April 26, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Philip Holst has been named a Trees Ontario Green Leader for his dedication to forest restoration.

Trees Ontario's Green Leader Program recognizes landowners who have worked with our partners to take part in the Ontario government's 50 Million Tree Program, which aims to plant 50 million trees in southern Ontario.

David Depuydt, Stewardship Coordinator, Stewardship Oxford, nominated Holst after working with him over the last few years to plant his property.

"Phil is a family man and community-oriented fellow; He wanted to enhance the landscape for the next generation. He respects the value of agricultural land, but has restored several acres of marginal land into wetland and wildlife habitat on his farm," explained Dave.

Trees Ontario recently visited Holst's Woodstock, Ontario, property. The previous owner had planted wind breaks before Holst bought the property in 1997.

"I view myself as a steward as opposed to an owner. I've always loved this property and I see our family as the next in a long line of stewards of this land. I just continue on where the previous family left off," explains Holst.

Since 2010, Holst has planted approximately 8,000 trees. The trees are a diverse mix of spruce, white pine, red oak, white oak, sugar maple, hemlock and fruit trees. When he purchased the property, it was comprised of 6 acres of lawn and 40 acres of top quality Guelph loam farmland. Four acres were bush, yard and orchard. Now, it boasts 36 acres of workable land and the rest is made up of trees, tree seed orchard, ponds, walking trails, and wetlands.

Holst has been restoring the land and wetlands, always adding to the property. He cropshares 36 acres of farmland with nearby farmers, planting corn, soybean and wheat on a rotational basis.

"As an involved and invested landowner, I've recommended this program to a lot of other landowners in the area. When I heard about the 50 Million Tree Program, I contacted Dave Depuydt, who shared information on the subsidies and support available for tree planting," explains Holst.

"If farmers have land sitting idle, let's do something to make it really useful - let's plan for the next 40-50 years," says Holst. "Partnering with a few other conservation organizations, it's really worth it for the landowner to make the most of these subsidies. Everyone benefits."

Holst will again participate in the 50 Million Tree Program in spring 2012, and credits the Stewardship's help in making the process easy. Four acres of his Woodstock property have been employed as a pilot research project and will potentially shape assisted migration tree planting in future years.

"I have a tree seed orchard. We've planted native trees, but we've mixed in some red and white oaks from Tennessee and Pennsylvania to assist in adapting to climate change. It's really a pilot project with Trees Ontario, Stewardship Oxford and Forest Gene Conservation Association to determine which trees will be best suited for this area in 40-50 years. In four or five decades, we'll have a seed source for better-adapted oak trees," adds Holst. "Planting trees is beneficial to everyone. I want someone in the future to say "the folks who planted this must have had some vision"."

Holst has advice for other landowners who are interested in planting trees:

"For marginal land or areas you want to plant, it is a good program and covers most of the costs."

"Planting trees helps us create a healthier environment. Trees clean the air, mitigate the effects of climate change, increase wildlife habitat, provide shade and help prevent flooding," said Michael Gravelle, Minister of Natural Resources. "I applaud Mr. Holst for the work he is doing. His trees are making a difference. I encourage others to take part in the 50 Million Tree Program to help protect Ontario's natural beauty."

"All of our 50 Million Tree Program landowners are making a positive change for all Ontarians. But it is worth recognizing these Green Leaders for their local stewardship and commitment in restoring the environment for future generations," said Rob Keen, Trees Ontario CEO.

"With forest restoration, you'll have something permanent and greater in value than you had before," says Holst. "This place is highly productive. We grow our own food, can our meat and accentuate the positive in every area of our farm. We have so much wildlife, yet we still produce from our farmland," Holst said. "You can make such a contribution in such a short time."

Trees Ontario is the lead agency for the Ontario government's 50 Million Tree program, which provides financial incentives to landowners looking to plant trees. It also provides eligible landowners with hands-on professional help and advice on tree planting, including determining site eligibility, allocating funding and coordinating planting.

Ontario planted nearly 3 million trees in 2011. Our goal is to support the planting of 10 million trees per year by 2015. To help put Ontario on the path to achieving this goal, Trees Ontario is seeking landowners to participate in its programs. For more information about the 50 Million Tree Program and other tree planting programs and incentives available to Ontario landowners, please click here.

Help Us Save Our Environment. One Tree at a Time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Experts challenge sustainability of Canada's food system

A new WSPA report reveals the hidden costs
of industrial animal agriculture

TORONTO, April 24, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has released some alarming findings from a report commissioned to look at the wide-ranging impacts of Canada's animal agriculture practices.

What's On Your Plate? The Hidden Costs of Industrial Animal Agriculture exposes the destructive impacts of intensive livestock operations (ILOs) on our health, the environment, animal welfare and rural Canada.

"Intensive livestock operations or ILOs are producing drug resistant super bugs, destroying our planet's life support system and transforming the social fabric of our rural communities," says Melissa Matlow, WSPA Campaigns Manager, Humane and Sustainable Agriculture.

The report also exposes the real costs of our food. We are seeing the results of our broken system through the escalation of food safety and public health issues.

"Food-borne illnesses are costing our healthcare system between $12 and $14 billion annually," says report contributor Dr. Eva Pip. Animal agriculture uses more land and water than any other human activity. "The running of ILOs also involves significant energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions," notes Dr. Tony Weis.

ILOs are costing Canadian taxpayers directly as well. As Darrin Qualman points out,

"Government of Canada data shows that hog ILOs couldn't exist without huge tax-funded subsidies." Farm animals are paying a high price too. They suffer painful mutilations, are bred to grow faster and crammed into small cages, all to make ILOs possible. "There is solid evidence that our industrial farming practices are causing acute suffering for animals," concludes Dr. Ian Duncan.

Key report findings:

...The huge amounts of manure from ILOs contain antibiotic residues, heavy metals and pathogens (like E. coli). When applied to fields or illegally dumped in ditches, these toxins end up in our drinking water and on crops. It also flows into lakes and rivers, killing fish

...Non-therapeutic use of antibiotics is causing drug resistant super bugs to be found on ILOs in manure and in groundwater near fields - risking the effectiveness of life-saving medicines

...ILOs are causing species loss, soil erosion and lake and river pollution

...Taxpayers are subsidizing the largest industrial farms. Hog farms with annual revenues over $1million collected 72% of the subsidies in 2009. Since 1996, Canadians have given nearly $4 billion to subsidize the hog industry

...ILOs have caused the hollowing out of rural communities as increasing debt, diminished quality of life and soaring unemployment mean businesses, people and infrastructure are abandoning these areas

...Painful mutilations done to farm animals (beak severing, hot branding, teeth breaking, etc) without anesthetic would be illegal if performed on a cat or dog and are purely surgical solutions to human-made problems

WSPA is calling for changes by all levels of government to policies and practices that will safe-guard the health of Canadians, protect our environment, revitalize rural communities and improve the lives of farm animal across the country.

Report recommendations:

...Phase out painful mutilations (de-beaking, castration, etc) performed without anaesthetic or require anaesthetic be given

...Support the Canadian Medical Association's call to require veterinary prescriptions for all agriculture antibiotic use

...Work with industry and farmers to end the worst confinement systems (battery cages, sow stalls, veal crates, etc.)

...Redirect farm subsidies to support family farmers and to encourage more humane and sustainable farming practices

...Regulate industrial livestock operations like other major polluting industries

...Pass a new federal law requiring labelling that would identify production methods to help Canadian consumers choose free-range, local and antibiotic free meat, milk and eggs

About What's On Your Plate? The Hidden Costs of Industrial Animal Agriculture:

Two years in the making, What's On Your Plate? is the first comprehensive Canadian examination of the impacts of industrial animal agriculture. The report includes contributions from leading Canadian academics in the fields of animal husbandry, environmental science, agricultural economics, bioethics, microbiology, water quality and toxicology and a foreword from Dr. Thomas S. Axworthy.

About the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA):

The World Society for the Protection of Animals seeks to create a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty has ended. Active in more than 50 countries, we work directly with animals and with the people and organizations that can ensure animals are treated with respect and compassion. For more information, visit us at; follow us on Twitter or 'Like' us on Facebook.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating Celebrates Earth Day with the Launch of Because Water Matters Website

New website will educate Canadians about the crucial role
plumbing plays in water conservation and our day-to-day lives

TORONTO, April 19, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - This Sunday marks the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day: a day when we celebrate our planet by focusing on the environmental awareness and conservation that will shape a more sustainable future.

However, it's been over four decades since the first Earth Day and, surprisingly, many Canadian are still misinformed about the huge impact simple plumbing changes can have with respect to water conservation. As an example, a recent survey by the Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating (CIPH), a not-for-profit trade association representing Canada's manufacturers and wholesaler distributors of plumbing and hydronic heating products, revealed:

...Half of Canadians would select a shower head with high-pressure over one with high-efficiency;

...Nearly 4 in 10 Canadians still leave the water running while brushing their teeth;

...Most Canadians underestimate the annual water savings gained switching to a high-efficiency toilet by more than 17,000 L per annum.

That's why CIPH is launching Because Water Matters, a website created to: educate Canadians about the crucial role plumbing plays in water conservation; and highlight trends and technology in the plumbing industry.

"Most Canadians know what changes they need to make to be more water efficient in the home," says Ralph Suppa, president and general manager of CIPH, "but our survey uncovered a gap between principle and practice. At CIPH, we surmise several reasons for this trend: in the case of high-efficiency plumbing products such as showerheads and toilets, there's often a misconception that the sustainable choice has performance tradeoffs. Another misconception lies in the public underestimating the amount of water than can be saved by efficient plumbing products. Most simple plumbing changes can literally save tens of thousands of litres each year."

Because Water Matters contains facts and figures about water usage, in addition to tips and trivia to get Canadians thinking about plumbing and wise-water behavioural changes. The site will also feature CIPH-produced videos showcasing technology and trends in the plumbing industry. The first video, developed for Earth Week, is online now and can be viewed by clicking here.

"Our goal is to shatter misconceptions and bridge the gap between principle and practice when it comes to sustainable water use in Canada," adds Ralph. "Water has always been of paramount importance to our members and through Because Water Matters, we can share their passion for all things plumbing with Canadians and make a real difference for the environment."

To learn more about Because Water Matters, visit and follow the CIPH Twitter stream (@CIPHNews) for website updates and other plumbing news.

About the Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating:

The Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating is a not-for-profit trade association. Founded in 1933, the Institute is a vibrant organization committed to providing members with the tools for success in today's competitive environment. More than 260 companies are members of this influential Canadian industry association. They are the manufacturers, wholesaler distributors, master distributors, manufacturers' agents and allied companies who manufacture and distribute plumbing, hydronic heating, industrial, waterworks and other mechanical products. CIPH wholesaler distributors operate more than 700 warehouses and showrooms across Canada. Total industry sales exceed $5 billion annually. For more information, visit

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Canada on track to install more than 1,500 MW of new wind energy capacity in a record setting 2012

50,000 MW of new wind energy capacity projected to be built in North America in the next five years and emerging markets are playing a growing role in driving the fast-growing wind energy sector worldwide

OTTAWA, April 17, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Canada will enjoy another record year for wind energy development in 2012 with the addition of approximately 1,500 MW of new installed capacity, according to the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). The projection was highlighted in the five-year industry forecast published today by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) at Europe's largest wind energy conference in Copenhagen.

Canada's wind energy industry enjoyed a record year in 2011 with approximately 1,267 MW of new wind energy capacity representing an investment of $3.1 billion and creating 13,000 person-years of employment. Canada was in 6th place globally in terms of new installed wind energy capacity in 2011 and currently has 5,403 MW of total installed capacity - enough to power more than 1.2 million homes. Canada's wind energy industry is now on track to easily surpass 10,000 MW of total installed capacity by 2015 - providing new opportunities for Canadian manufacturers and bringing significant levels of new investment, jobs and economic benefits to rural communities and landowners across the country.

"Canada, and in particular Ontario, has emerged as a very competitive destination for wind energy investment globally. This industry represents billions of dollars in new investments across the manufacturing and construction sectors. Wind energy is playing a growing role in delivering clean, safe and affordable energy as provinces look to build stronger electricity systems. Maintaining this growth and momentum will require continued commitments to aggressive targets for wind energy development and a stable policy framework," said Robert Hornung, President of CanWEA.

In North America, just over 50,000 MW is expected to be installed in 2012-2016, bringing its total to just over 100,000 MW of wind energy at the end of the period. GWEC expects a strong 2012 for North America as both Canada and Mexico project well over 1,000 MW of wind energy capacity to be installed - complementing another strong year for the US which began the year with more than 8,000 MW under construction. The global wind energy industry will install more than 46,000 MW of new wind energy capacity in 2012. Overall, GWEC projects average annual market growth rates of about 8 per cent for the next five years. Total new installations for the 2012-2016 period are expected to reach 255,000 MW. A significant portion of this growth will be driven by China, India and Brazil, with important contributions also coming from new markets in Latin America, Africa and Asia. The top 10 global leaders for new installed capacity in 2011: PR China (17,631 MW), USA (6,810 MW), India (3,019 MW), Germany (2,086 MW), UK (1,293 MW), Canada (1,267 MW), Spain (1,050 MW), Italy (950 MW), France (830 MW), Sweden (763 MW).

Click here for Canada's installed capacity.

Click here for GWEC's 2011 annual report.

About CanWEA

CanWEA is the voice of Canada's wind energy industry, actively promoting the responsible and sustainable growth of wind energy on behalf of its more than 420 members. A national non-profit association, CanWEA serves as Canada's leading source of credible information about wind energy and its social, economic and environmental benefits. To join other global leaders in the wind energy industry, CanWEA believes Canada can and must reach its target of producing 20 per cent or more of the country's electricity from wind by 2025. The document Wind Vision 2025 - Powering Canada's Future is available at

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Agriculture Canada cutbacks contradict federal focus on jobs and innovation

Elimination of successful public/private partnership will hurt co-operatives' ability to leverage funds at provincial, community levels

OTTAWA, April 13, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Representatives of Canada's co-operative movement say cutbacks at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada run counter to the government's stated goals of creating jobs, promoting partnerships between the public and private sectors and fostering innovation. The announcement also calls into question the government's support for the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives, which Canada publicly endorsed when the UN resolution was adopted in 2009.

Canada's national co-operative associations have learned that the Co-operative Development Initiative (CDI), a program that has provided financial support for new and emerging co-operatives since 2003, will not be continued and that the Rural and Co-operatives Secretariat, the government office that administers programs related to co-operatives, will be significantly reduced in size.

The cuts come as the co-operative movement in Canada and around the world is celebrating the International Year of Co-operatives, which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly to highlight the contribution co-operatives make to the economic and social development of communities. The 2009 UN resolution that proclaimed the International Year, which was supported by Canada, called on governments to take measures aimed at creating a supportive environment for the development of co-operatives.

"If the government is truly committed to creating jobs and fostering innovation, we can't understand why it would cut a program that cost very little - just over $4 million a year - and made a difference in hundreds of communities across the country," said Denyse Guy, executive director of the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA), one of two national associations that jointly administers the CDI program on behalf of the government. "This program was a partnership between the public and private sectors; it created jobs, fostered innovation, and gave co-operatives the ability to leverage additional funds at the provincial and community levels."

"The cuts in the CDI program and the Rural and Co-operatives Secretariat send a very disturbing signal for all Canadian co-operatives," said Brigitte Gagné, executive director of the Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité, which co-manages the program with CCA. "We view this as a lack of recognition of the importance of co-operatives in job creation and economic growth in this country. We don`t understand this decision, in light of the program's success. We are now waiting for a concrete gesture on behalf of the Harper government to show its support for the co-operative sector."

Co-operative Development Initiative

The Co-operative Development Initiative is a unique federal program devoted to co-operatives. This program, whose objective is to stimulate the creation and expansion of co-operative enterprises, has supported the creation of more than 300 new community-based co-operatives since its inception in 2003. Over the past three years, CDI has provided advice and assistance to more than 1,600 groups interested in developing co-operatives and has aided the development of 700 existing co-operatives. In several provinces, CDI provides the only funding available for the development of co-operatives.

Rural and Co-operatives Secretariat

The Rural and Co-operatives Secretariat provides an essential link between the government and the co-operative sector. Staff reductions in the Secretariat will severely affect the dialogue between Canada's 9,000 co-operatives and the federal government. The budget cuts to the Secretariat will also have a direct impact on the promotion of the co-operative model and the coordination of federal government programs related to co-operatives.

Co-operatives in Canada

Canada's 9,000 co-operatives have more than 18 million members, 155,000 employees, annual revenues of more than $50 billion and assets of more than $370 billion. Canadian co-operatives are represented by two national associations, the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) and the Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité (CCCM).

Monday, April 9, 2012

The $1300 Chicken Coop: Williams Sonoma Goes Agrarian

photo credit: © Williams Sanoma

by Sami Grover - Living / Lawn & Garden

Whenever we write about fancy chicken coop designs or new urban beehives, the hardier back-to-the-landers among us invariably pour scorn over yuppie hippie wannabes and their expensive tastes.

But given the fact that we'd all be better off if more of us grew our own food and understood where it comes from, and given that some folks are willing to pay above-the-odds for products they don't have to make themselves and fit in with their own style and aesthetics, whose to begrudge the richer greenies among us their right to spend what they like on their gardening supplies? After all, I'd rather see someone drop a large amount of cash on a fancy chicken coop than on another SUV.

Either way, this debate is likely to get dredged up again as Williams Sonoma launches its line of Agrarian gardening supplies. From chicken coops through beehives to seeds, there's some nice looking—if expensive—stuff here. There is also some pointless fluff.

Let's take a look.

The Alexandria Chicken Coop and Run mobile chicken coop (aka a chicken tractor) and run is handcrafted in the USA from certified-sustainable wood. At $879.95 for the coop, and $399.95 for the run, I can't imagine there are many places where you couldn't hire a carpenter to build you something equally beautiful for a fraction of the cost—but as I argued above, that is not the point. If this means more 1%ers start keeping their own hens, then I am all for it. I wonder what eggs taste like when chickens are fed leftover caviar anyway?

The Backyard Beehive

During my stint as a failed beekeeper, I spent a good few hundred dollars on hives, bees and equipment. A starter kit from Williams Sonoma would have cost me $499.95, but at least I would have had a beautiful copper roof on my hive.

My one concern, having demonstrated first hand that ill-trained hobbyists can neglect their bees to death, is whether kits like these encourage folks with an overly romantic notion of beekeeping to take it up before they are ready. But then, who am I to judge?

Shiitake Mushroom Log

This one might be a tasty gift, but it is a little odd if we are going to talk about green living. For $30, plus shipping, Williams Sanoma will send you a hardwood log inoculated with shiitake mushroom spawn. Having inoculated my own shiitake logs, I can attest to the joy of mushroom growing. But to be shipping around hardwood logs for the mushroom fruits that will grow out of them seems to have gotten the whole food miles concept a little backwards in my book.

Garden Twine

OK, this is where it really does get a little silly. For $14.95 you can buy some twine in a can. Enough said. And don't even get me started on the $16 heirloom tomato plant...

All-in-all, it is a fascinating sign of the times that Williams Sonoma is offering all the trappings of the back-to-the-land lifestyle, albeit at a premium price. And while some of the items really are incredibly expensive, there are also some solid looking pieces of equipment that should serve their owners well. Yes, you could build them for cheaper yourself, or find their equivalent at your local garden center. But for those who like Williams Sonoma's aesthetic and have the cash to spare, I say all power to you if you want to house your chickens in luxury.

But please, do go buy your twine at the hardware store. Feel free to send me a check if the money you save starts burning a hole in your pocket...