Monday, June 27, 2011

Eat Local: Farmers Markets in Muskoka

It's summer and there is no easier time to eat locally in Ontario!

Here in Muskoka we're lucky to have some amazing food producers.

I wrote last year about the benefits of eating locally. There are usually less pesticides, less packaging, and less distance to travel to deliver (= less burned fossil fuels). David Suzuki recently published an article called: Small farms may be better for food security and biodiversity. In it he concludes that "we need to grow food in ways that make feeding people a bigger priority than generating profits for large agribusiness." Below are some folks you can support in order to get involved in our local food scene right here in Muskoka.

Our favourite producers continue to produce healthy, fresh, delicious, and nutricious food that we can get nearby:

Brooklands Farm (fruit & veggies)
Lavender Hills Farm (honey products, candles, & cosmetics)
Ivanita Farm and Meats
Muskoka Brewery
Lake of Bays Brewing Co.
Any many, many more. Too many to list here...but Savour Muskoka has a very comprehensive list.

Of course, the local markets play an important role in the distribution of the wonderful food and locally produced wares. Be sure to check them out!

Bracebridge Farmers Market
When? Saturdays, 8:30 am – 1 pm, Victoria Day Weekend to Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend
Where? Memorial Park, Manitoba Street, Bracebridge (beside Norwood Theatre)
More Info:

Rosseau Farmers Market
When? Fridays, 9 am – 2 pm, July 1 – Sept 2
Where? Waterfront on Lake Rosseau at the end of Short Street
More Info:

Huntsville Farmers Market
When? Thursdays, 9 am – 2 pm, Victoria Day Weekend to Halloween
Where? Canadian Tire Parking Lot, 77 King William St
More Info:

Rivermill Park Farmers Market (Huntsville)
When? Saturday's 9am-1pm starting July 2nd
Where? Rivermill Park
More Info:

Port Carling Farmers Market (new this year!)

When? Thursdays, 9 am – 2 pm, June 30 to September 1, 2011

Where? Hanna Park, Port Carling

More Info:

Gravenhurst Farmers Market
When? Every Wednesday 9am - 2pm, 18th May 2011 - 5th October 2011

Where? In the special events field at Muskoka Wharf (across the road from Boston Pizza)
More Info:
Carling Farmers Market (District of Parry Sound)
When? Saturdays, 8 am – 1 pm, last Saturday in June – Labour Day Weekend
Where? Carling Recreation Hall, Carling, Ontario

Enjoy the succulent strawberries that are now ripe for picking at Brooklands Farm and Taylor Farms!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Craft Beer for Good

Join Us!

Ontario Craft Brewery Week began on Father’s Day and runs to this Saturday, June 25th.

Lake of Bays Brewing Co (LBBC) and Muskoka Brewery (MB) are joining forces to promote craft brewing in the region.

They are combining this celebration with a philanthropic effort, and the Muskoka Heritage Trust is the recipient of any monies raised during the week. This charitable element is being called “Craft Beer for Good.”

During the week, for every 12 pack of beer sold in the LBBC/MB retail stores, $2.00 of the sales will go to the Muskoka Heritage Trust. Cheers to that!

On Friday, June 24th they are hosting a celebratory BBQ at the Muskoka Brewery (in the parking lot) from 3pm-7pm.

Come on by for some food and raise a glass for "Craft Beer for Good"!

Hope to see you there!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Earlier this month the Stewardship Program held its' annual Master Steward Training in preparation for property visits this field season. The Master Stewards visit with landowners to tour their property and speak with them about good stewardship practices for their property. Everything from healthy forest management to shoreline re-naturalization to creating habitat for wildlife and trail building.

We had a fastastic weekend of learning! The following is a photo journal of our weekend spent talking, learning and experiencing stewardship in Muskoka.

This is most of the group at the end of the weekend. Thanks for a great weekend and for being super volunteers!

Master Steward Paula led us in a creative icebreaker that involved gathering from the forest to make a food or drink to share!

Matt and Chad explain their concoction.

The group listens to Master Steward Chris Near as he speaks about trail building.

The Master Steward volunteers listen intently.

The Master Stewards gaze up at the canopy as we listen to our guest speaker, Forester Scott Reid.

Scott speaks with the group about common tree diseases in Muskoka.

The Master Stewards identify trees and note their defect in a field exercise with Scott.

Master Stewards cross the stream on a bridge built by a landowner during a property visit at the Master Steward training.

Master Steward Chris Near speaks about trails in the field as a follow-up to his morning presentation.

The Master Stewards hike up a path using a railing along one of the trails at the property visit.

Master Steward Chris Gilmour gives a talk about wild edibles of Muskoka.

Some of the wild edibles Master Steward Chris Gilmour brought with him to share with the group- at our own risk!

Master Steward Chad give a talk on the importance of downed woody material in the forest and the art he creates from it.

Master Steward Ariel Zwicker speaks about her family maple syrup operation in Muskoka.

Thanks to the Master Stewards for their participation and passion for conservation through private stewardship in Muskoka!

Are you a landowner who would like a property visit from a Master Steward? Your property must be at least 5 acres. For more information click on the "About Us" tab or the "Contact Us" tab at the top of the page.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

growing more resilient children

An inspiring video from the good folks at the P.I.N.E. project.
Do you want to participate in similar programs in Muskoka?
Check out Earth Mentorship Programs offered this summer.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nature Quest: Summer Stewardship workshops

Hope to see you at these workshops this July!

click on each photo for a larger version

Monday, June 6, 2011

Profile on Invasives: Garlic Mustard

It’s in season…. It’s invasive…. It’s sooo hard to get out of your garden...It's Garlic Mustard (Alliara petiolata)

Where does it grow?

This invasive plant likes moist forest conditions, wooded stream banks, floodplain forests, roadsides, and trail edges.

Why is it so bad?

It dominates the ground layer of plants where it grows and reduces the forests' natural ability to regenerate.

Garlic Mustard may also seriously harm one of Muskoka's species at risk, the West Virginia White butterfly. When the butterfly lays eggs on Garlic Mustard, the eggs will hatch but the young will not feed on the mustard and die. For a species whose habitat is in short supply, this is a serious problem! Learn more about the West Virginia White butterfly.

What does it look like?

Garlic Mustard grows from 13-120cm tall and stays green year-round. The stem has alternating leaves that are rounded in their first year (a photo here) but afterwards are jagged and pointy. When crushed, they produce a strong garlic smell.

In the second year, it produces flowers which are small (6-7mm), with four white pedals and are produced on a single stalk in May and June. In late July and August a small, oblong, black seed is produced. A single plant can produce up to five thousand seeds that germinate the following spring. This plant spreads like wildfire!

But don't mistake it for:

Phlox (various types): looks similar but the pedals are more rounded and there are five of them, not four.

Dame's Rocket: also looks similar but flowers can be pink or purple in addition to white. This plant also has a pleasant, fresh, floral, fragrance- not a garlic smell! The photos below are Dame's Rocket.

Both photos above are Dame's Rocket, NOT Garlic Mustard! They look soooo similar! But this one smells much nicer and can be white, pink, or purple.

How does it spread?

Unknowingly, humans and our pets can capture seeds on hair, fur, clothes,

shoes and bike tires, carrying them to new places

where the conditions are right and the seeds literally put

down their roots. It can also be spread by wild animals.

What can you do?

  • Look before you leave! After a hike, thoroughly brush off your clothing and shoes. Give your pet a brush before leaving the trail too! Garlic Mustard seeds can be carried in mud so rinse your shoes, pets, and bikes off before leaving.

  • Learn to detect this species early in its establishment, avoiding larger more labour intensive control efforts down the road.

  • Be carefule if you pull it out!

    • It can easily be pulled by hand in light, moist soils, but only for a small number of plants. This must be done over 5 successive years to ensure the seedbank is exhausted. Doing this with larger infestations could result in actually compounding the problem by encouraging the seed to spread

Have you found Garlic Mustard on your property? Look here for more tips on how to manage.

Report an invasive species: call the Invasive Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711