COM­MU­NITY HEALTH THE FO­CUS OF WEEK­END EVENTS

The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

WHAT WAS WOOL­WICH HEALTHY Com­mu­ni­ties Month has ex­panded in the last few years, with events rolling past April into May and June. It’s a good sign that peo­ple are in­ter­ested in ac­tiv­i­ties that make the town­ship a bet­ter place to live, both as or­ga­niz­ers and par­tic­i­pants.

Most read­ily linked to Earth Day (April 22), the Wool­wich Healthy Com­mu­ni­ties events are an­chored by an en­vi­ron­men­tal fo­cus. Satur­day, for in­stance, will find vol­un­teers fan­ning out across the town­ship as part of the com­mu­nity cleanup day, though call­ing it a spring clean­ing might be a lit­tle op­ti­mistic given the weather of late.

Next week, The Wool­wich Clean Wa­ter­ways Group will be out at a Bal­sam Road site April 24 and 25. Next month, there’ll be op­por­tu­ni­ties for res­i­dents to plant trees, with Trees for Wool­wich events sched­uled for May 5 in Bres­lau and May 26 in Elmira.

Those events are very much in the vein of hands-on im­prove­ments to the en­vi­ron­ment where we live. Clean­ing up af­ter the mess left be­hind by oth­ers – an in­escapable part of our so­ci­ety, it seems – and plant­ing trees for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of­fer very vis­i­ble out­comes.

Tree plant­ing, in par­tic­u­lar, has be­come a sig­na­ture ac­tiv­ity in the town­ship, spear­headed by the work of Trees for Wool­wich. De­cid­edly low-tech in com­par­i­son to the tech­no­log­i­cal fixes be­ing used to com­bat cli­mate change – think of al­ter­na­tives to fos­sil fuels such as so­lar elec­tric power – plant­ing trees re­mains the most affordable and ac­ces­si­ble way to deal with the prob­lem, the group main­tains. It also comes with a host of ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing the green­ing of our com­mu­ni­ties and the ad­di­tion of wildlife habi­tat, not to men­tion the so­cial as­pects of bring­ing neigh­bours to­gether to work on a com­mon pro­ject.

On the healthy front, Wool­wich Healthy Com­mu­ni­ties also lead a num­ber of hik­ing and cy­cling events, tak­ing ad­van­tages of an ex­ten­sive net­work of trails and some idyl­lic ru­ral routes.

One of the most high-pro­file ac­tiv­i­ties is A Taste of Wool­wich, set this year for June 23. Through it, or­ga­niz­ers hit on a range of is­sues at play for a health­ier and more sus­tain­able fu­ture, as food comes with eco­nomic, health and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts. Gen­er­ally, the more lo­cal the food, the bet­ter the out­comes on all fronts.

The goal of the event is to show­case what’s avail­able lo­cally, to demon­strate how in­cor­po­rat­ing lo­cal food into our di­ets needn’t be a chore and to have some fun do­ing it.

From a mar­ket­place through to cook­ing demon­stra­tions, the em­pha­sis will be on what lo­cal food can do for you. While it’s early yet for lo­cal pro­duce, ex­cept for green­house op­er­a­tions such as Flo­ralane Pro­duce, there are meats, grains and dairy prod­ucts avail­able year-round.

The more ed­u­cated peo­ple are about the ben­e­fits of lo­cal food, they more likely they are to pay a bit more for it, say pro­po­nents of the lo­cal-food move­ment.

For most ur­ban dwellers, food is some­thing found on store shelves – how it got there is the same kind of mys­tery be­hind the lights turn­ing on when they flick a switch. In Wool­wich and Welles­ley town­ships, strad­dling the di­vide be­tween ru­ral and ur­ban, agri­cul­ture re­mains an ev­ery­day part of life. Events such as A Taste of Wool­wich let every­one get a closer look at that re­al­ity.

In the mean­time, lend­ing a hand with the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s events that kick off this week­end is a fine ex­er­cise in com­mu­nity build­ing.

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