ChChChanges...from Euphorbia Obessa
by Kate Middleton
by Kate Middleton

Life-long organic gardener and composter. Created media relations and public education strategy on climate change for David Phillips at Canada’s Weather Service in 1982. Media relations for The United Church of Canada, Canadian Council of Churches, South African Council of Churches and World Council of Churches mid 1980s. Toronto Backyard and Community Composting Program 1990-97 Officer and Advisor. Garden coach Council Fire, Regent Park. Founder and contact Almaguin Highlands Seedy Saturdays. Columnist Great North Arrow. Blog

Horticulture society executive. Resident high risk crime area.

March 13, 2019

Dear Reader,

There is something that has been niggling in the back of my conscience and I fear it is now time to release it. I have a secret. Many of my previous readers may have assumed that I belonged to a horticultural club, as flowers and many plants have taken my interest for many decades.

Alas! As I was so busy being a “professional” woman righting wrongs and teaching people how to compost to alleviate climate change, I did not have time to join a club, even when an excellent one existed in the Beach area of Toronto.

But, fear not, I joined one right away when I moved from the city, then another, and another. I think I belong to 2 at last count, and have held some positions in the interim.

My mother was a horticulturist, my father’s grandfather one of the country’s top parks managers, and my mother’s father had a small greenhouse business selling plants. And, then, I move here and discover that my great-grandparents on my father’s side were greenhouse managers in Norway/Sweden in the 1800s and even knew their king!

It should come as no surprise that the first thing I did when I finally got all the perennials moved into place, was to put up a 6 foot by 6 foot plastic and metal greenhouse. Quickly it filled up with odds and ends, tools, pots, etc. as I attempted to get some semblance of order established. Little did I know that I was in an area of much illicit growth of a certain, now legal, crop.

Some nights, in late summer, around 10 pm I would hear the ATVs and voices as various areas were harvested. A seasoned hunter at the local restaurant warned, one morning, that we should avoid, at all costs, areas with green 5 gallon pails as often they were booby-trapped to discourage the curious. Then, not 10 years later, I find that I am living in a crime “high risk” area.

That explains my 5 spiked car tires, 3 attempted trailer break-ins, night visitors 500 feet back from the road at what I thought was my idyllic campsite, a voice calling out, less than 100 feet from my campfire to someone else on the road. All for saying someone, who could have killed me in my driveway with his ATV, was trespassing. Not to forget to mention my 3 dear neighbours who were murdered exactly a year ago.

I really had no idea that gardening could be so difficult! And, on the way to a regional horticulture meeting, our driver remarked that I should be OK for a while as my tormentors were next door to her harvesting the crop in the barn. I guess it’s just an aspect of gardening that I’ve formerly overlooked.

We horticulturists are going through a change. I think we’ve only had societies, for the most part, since the 80s, but we seem to be becoming more gardeners than flower show and dahlia propagators. Local schools have garden programs to grow food to eat. We are the poorest area in the province and this bodes well for the future.

This year we are giving the flower show a pass but are starting to look at other things to do. Some societies have bus trips. Often, they pass by our area as they go south. We’d have to drive north to go with them. Then, drive our cars south to go home after we got out of the return bus. We have to work some things out!

But maybe, this year, more will start growing the other cannabis—hops!

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