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Quill Plains (Wynyard) chapter holds forum on organic farming

The Council of Canadians Quill Plains (Wynyard) chapter held a “Let’s Grow Organics” public forum on November 12.

Chapter activists Elaine Hughes and Margaret Lewis tell us, “A perfect Fall day was the setting for our chapter’s Fall Event held at St. Peter’s College in Muenster. The chapter’s Annual Meeting was held in the morning with business reports, election of officers and  discussion of the Council of Canadians campaigns for the coming year and our part in acting on them. Following the annual meeting, we held our ‘Let’s Grow Organics’ forum featuring Cody Sander from PROCERT, and organic farmers Bilkies McKen, Lyle Orchard and Paul-Emile l’Heureux.”

As noted on their website, “Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd. (Pro-Cert) is one of North America’s foremost national certifier’s of organic products.” Hughes and Lewis note, “Cody Sander gave a slide presentation of the transition process required to go from chemical to chemical-free production of food through to the certification process. Included was a detailed comparison of the input costs and income benefits of the two methods, and why organic farming makes economic sense.”

Then Bilkies McKen, whose family raises bees on their organic farm, explained the impacts neonicotinoid pesticides have on our pollinators and the long-term effects on our food security. The Council of Canadians supports the call for the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to immediately implement a five-year moratorium on the use of the neonicotinoids class of pesticides.

Hughes and Lewis note, “Lyle Orchard then shared how, more than 25 years ago, he and his family saw the common sense in ending the use of chemicals on their land, the challenges and, through trial and error, the satisfaction in successfully meeting them. He voiced his passionate love of the land and all living beings on his half-section which he and his partner, Cathy Holtslander, now farm.”

And then Paul-Emile l’Heureux described the process of acquiring his land, the ridicule he received from neighbours about going ‘backwards’ with the careful use of his land with small outdated machinery, and the planting of many trees to the already heavily-wooded farm. Hughes and Lewis highlight, “He and his wife, Eileen, their sons and grandsons continue to step carefully on their land.”

An animated question and answer session with coffee and treats followed.

The Council of Canadians shares the vision of sustainable bioregionally-based organic stewardship of land, food and fibre that respects nature, upholds social justice and protects natural resources.