Pot Luck June 2015

She won “Gold!”
    We are pleased as can be over Rachel Brighton’s Atlantic Journalism Gold Award (Business Reporting: Any Medium) for her in-depth feature on the milk processing industry, “Big dairy comes east: Consolidation makes ‘local' elusive,” published in our June 2014, issue. Here’s a photo of Rachel with her three boys, (from left) Rupert, Harry, and Jesse Lillford-Brighton, shortly after receiving the award May 9 in Halifax at the annual AJA gala. (The complete list of Gold and Silver winners can be found by following the Atlantic Journalism Awards link at RuralLife.ca.)
    It is a beautiful Victoria Day here on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. A cool wind blows off the North Atlantic but that’s okay. The pastures are coming on bright green, the sky and ocean are contrasting blues, and hardwoods are beginning to bud. Hummingbirds dart about the feeders, daring one another to alight for a sip of fake nectar. There’s plenty to go around, but what fun is that?

     June, our anniversary issue (going on 40), is Dairy Month, and is becoming somewhat of a dairy annual for Rural Delivery. This year we have a number of stories relating to dairy cows, including coverage of the Holstein National Convention that took place in New Brunswick last month – stories and photos from Nina Linton and George Fullerton. (We have not forgotten about goats. Just saving that for next issue.) There’s also Monica Graham’s article about making great hay – so important for the health of horses and economical production of dairy cows. But consider the well-being of meadowlarks and other ground-nesting birds when making hay by leaving at least some acreage for a late cut. (See “Make way for bobolinks,” May 2013, as well as Barb McLaughlin’s “Bobolinks and bovines” in June 2013).

    Rudy Haase has an old field above Goat Lake in East Chester, N.S., which I hope meadowlarks have found. I’m sure Rudy would leave room for birds. He has made a career out of leaving land for wildlife through personal efforts as well as through Friends of Nature Conservation Society, which he founded in 1954. I’ve never known anyone to give more and take less than Rudy. One thing he does take to excess, however, is pleasure in sledding. Here he is this past February, two months short of his 93rd birthday, blissfully gliding down Goat Lake hill on his venerable Flexible Flyer. (“He thinks he’s 18,” commented Rudy’s son, Bruce, who snapped this photo.)

    We are in the process of publishing our annual Buy Local Atlantic guide, and have been asking readers to give us their own definition of “local.” Is it next door? A hundred kilometers away? Within the province? In creating the directory seven years ago our choice was to call the Atlantic region local. What do our readers say?
    And what do our readers say about the continual whittling away of rural infrastructure and amenities – like New Brunswick’s mobile libraries (featured earlier this spring in a story by Rose Doucet), and Nova Scotia’s decision to close smaller town court houses and land registry offices? So much for the hoopla over the Ivany Commission report, the Georgetown Conference, and most recently the Local Prosperity Conference, all supported by governments that through their actions demonstrate no intention of turning urbanization around. The loss of Co-op Atlantic’s grocery outlets is another blow to many rural residents and farmers. We might well fear for the survival of Co-op Atlantic in any form, and that’s a story for another day.
    New Brunswick Green Party leader David Coon brought a bill before his peers in the legislative assembly this past month calling on government to buy local food for institutions. We have heard these calls before, but this is the first I recall the question being put to lawmakers. The proposal was shot down, and that is a crying shame. An argument heard in Nova Scotia against any such plan – and this was with regard to meats – was that the institutional buyers depend on suppliers bidding against each other until prices are in the basement. With imagination we ought to be able to get around such barriers with ease, and in the process help the region’s farmers and fishermen. Have we the will?

    Speaking of meat, it is encouraging that Dalhousie Ag College’s Extended Learning office is looking into the possibility of meat-cutting courses using excellent facilities in the animal science building. These have largely sat idle since the advent of “boxed beef” and other moves by big grocery that rendered near useless knowing how to carve up a carcass at large retail outlets. Today there is much need for qualified butchers serving a growing number of local, niche markets. This is an exciting story that will be told in more detail in the summer issue of Atlantic Beef & Sheep.

     Got to go plant something. A heritage bean perhaps. Best to all, DvL

PS: Down with “Mother Canada.” The idea has no merit. Should the gigantic statue on the Cabot Trail become reality it will be nothing but an ugly corporate-serving monstrosity. Google “Mother Canada, Laskey,” for the facts.

And the winner is. . .
    Jeannie Kuenzig, a part-time farmer from Sundridge, Ont., is this month’s winner of a copy of “Getting Rid of Alders.” Jeannie’s name was drawn from among those subscribers who kindly took time to fill out our reader survey.