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Of Ladyslippers and Local Foods
by Jodi DeLong
by Jodi DeLong


Writing about plants and gardening is just one part of Jodi¹s professional writing business. She¹s been a garden columnist for the Atlantic Co-operator for over five years, and last year was invited to do a biweekly column in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, Canada¹s oldest independent daily newspaper. In addition, she writes regular garden features for Saltscapes magazine, Manitoba Co-operator, Grainews, Rural Delivery, and has also had various feature articles in Canadian Gardening, Cottage Life, Complete Canadian Gardener, Aquascapes Lifestyles, and East Coast Gardener. Jodi sits on the National Board of Directors for PWAC, the Periodical Writers Association of Canada, as Atlantic Regional Director, and is also a member of the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia. When she¹s not writing, she¹s gardening, reading about gardening, photographing gardens, thinking about gardening, or ignoring the housework.

January 28, 2007

I’m not talking so much about gardening, as asking for your help with a couple of things that are going on in our neck of the woods. I’ll also ask your patience if you’re not interested in these matters, please and just to delete this email and not worry about it. The three things have to do with a problem on the Avon Peninsula Watershed in Hants County, the whole ‘Eating Local’ movement, and a request for sources of locally produced foods—meats, produce, value-added items—for a section we hope to be doing in the Rural Delivery Magazine. I’ll explain further as we go along here.

Yesterday I received an email from a friend and colleague, asking for my help and support with the potential development of another strip mine. A multinational gypsum company that already operates a huge stripmine down near Windsor, Hants County, has been buying up land and plans to open another mine, on lands that are part of the unique watershed system of the Avon Peninsula, a spit of land bounded by three rivers; the Avon, the St. Croix, and the Kennetcook. The lands are socalled calcareous woodlands, and are home to a number of unique and rare wildflowers, including yellow ladyslippers, ramshead orchids, and other wild orchids. The peninsula also is home to a number of farms and other dwellings, and development of this mine will destroy farming and ecotourism opportunities as well as a way of life and unique ecosystem.

Now, I don’t have all the details yet. The Avon Peninsula Watershed Preservation Society has a website at, and you can visit it and get more details as well as information on what we as citizens can do. I’ve signed the petition already, and have written a piece on my blog about this; plus I promised the organizers of the society that I’d spread the word as best I can. So I’m letting you know about this situation—yet another one where the government is allowing big business to do whatever it wants in this province, regardless of the cost to our quality of lives or environmental impacts. If you’re willing to help by signing the petition or writing letters, that would be a marvelous thing.

Second thing. Many of you know that I’m passionate about supporting local business, especially local farmers—the people who feed us. As those of us who live in NS know, things aren’t good for local farmers and many are hitting crisis situations. The pork industry is on the verge of collapse without help from the government to help them reinvent and stabilize themselves; and Maple Leaf Poultry has announced the closure of its plant in Canard at the end of April, at the cost of over 400 jobs and countless ripple effects to our local community. These are just two things that are causing concern, not only to farmers but to those of us who feel we must support local producers.

What can we do? BUY LOCAL. Put pressure on your grocery store. Take pork, for example. The Superstore/Saveeasy stores in this province sell ‘seasoned’ pork—that’s pork with salt already on it, great for retaining water in the meat and making it heavier than it should be—and it sure as blazes isn’t Nova Scotian Pork. The beef comes mostly from out west, or the US. The Co-op and Valufood stores, on the other hand, go out of their way to carry local meats and products, and they’re also marked as such. Ask your grocery why they’re bringing in apples from Washington when Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley is the heart of apple production for our region.

What does local mean? To me, it goes thusly; from my community first, then my county, then my province, then the Atlantic provinces. Not Ontario, Quebec or BC (no offence meant to any of these regions or their producers, of course.) We’re hearing more and more about climate change; how many carbon units, or whatever they’re called, are caused by hauling tractor trailers of food in from elsewhere. Do we NEED California strawberries in January?

I know of people who are making a conscious effort to eat local as much as possible. Some are even taking up with the Hundred Mile Challenge. (see the website at for info on what this is.) Again, I’m not going to preach or scold, just ask people to think about this, and think about what it would mean if our farmers—our neighbours and friends, for many of us—were all forced out of business and we HAD to rely on food supplies from elsewhere. That’s all.

Finally, if you currently deal with a local farmer, farmers market, farm market, or a small business that creates valueadded products from farm produced foods, please send me the contact information for these businesses. I’ve been talking to Dirk van Loon, publisher of Rural Delivery and three other rural life magazines, about what we could do in the pages of RD to help support such local businesses. During the BSE crisis of several years ago, Dirk began running a directory of local beef producers in each magazine, so that people could buy direct from the farmers. We thought we’d go further with this, and I expect to be starting a regular feature in the magazine, doing brief profiles of a few such businesses each issue. Places like Fox Hill Cheese House, a dairy farm that value adds its milk into cheese, yogourt and quark; the Village Meat Shop in Canning, where the owners purchase as much meat as they can directly from local farmers, and also smoke their own hams, bacon and pork chops, and make pepperoni and sausage; Farmer John’s Herbs, also in Canning, where the farmer has developed a line of dried, packaged herbs but also stuffing and sauce mixes…I know there are dozens of such businesses throughout Atlantic Canada, and I’m asking for your help in finding them.

Please send business names, names and phone numbers, website info if you know it, to me, and I’ll take it from there to collate a list, and work my way through interviewing the various businesses. It’ll be beneficial both to the producers and to us as consumers/customers.

Thank you to all of you for listening, and for helping if you can.

Stay warm in this chilly air…

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