How We Set In Motion Coffee Global Business

If you are like me- someone who has drunk much more than one coffee in your life, you might be interested in pondering this question: Why do you think the multi-billion-dollar global coffee industry can be a losing business for the growers, whose hands till the land from where coffee starts?

In fact, if you drink 2 cups of coffee a day for one year, you’ll be spending more than the annual income of the coffee farmer in a developing country. To help present to fellow North American coffee drinkers this huge disparity between the farmer and the other key players across the coffee value chain, take a look at the infographic below.

Considering that North America is the biggest coffee consumer in the world, we can make a big dent by supporting the fair trade advocacy that ensures farmers get paid properly. Take a look at the infographic again. It describes how coffee is made from the farm to the mill, to the roasting plant and all the way to the consumer. Here are some of its highlights that show the bigness of this industry:

– 100 M people depend on coffee for livelihood; 25 M of which are farmers

– The U.S. spent 18 B for coffee yearly, equivalent to Bosnia’s GDP

– Coffee is the second most globally traded commodity after petroleum

For the Silo, Alex Hillsberg Web Journalist


Here's How You Make Coffee A Billion Dollar Business

Supplemental- How North Americans can help the #fairtrade program

VieVité Cotes de Provence Is Ideal French Rosé Wine For A Hot Weather Day

For many people, an ideal Victoria Day in Canada or Memorial Day in America depends on two essential things: SUN and BOOZE. VieVité’s Rosé #ROSEALLDAY is the weekend’s beach towel, boat, or post-brunch bag’s best friend. I mean.. is there really another way to kick off Summer celebrations?

“Perfectly pale pink. That perfectly chilled, hot weather day rosé is the ultimate dream.” – Women everywhere.

NEW YORK – The acclaimed Côtes de Provence region in France has long been known for its exceptional climate, soil and as the world leader in the production of premium rosé wines. VieVité (pronounced Vee-Veetay) is created at Domaine Sainte Marie, a renowned vineyard dating back to the 18th century and known for its true expressions of Provencal Rosé wine.
Located just 21 kilometers west of Saint Tropez, Domaine Sainte Marie stretches over 45 hectares of land; with bountiful southern exposure and land rich in filterable siliceous soil containing michaschists, schists, and white quartz, adding to the depth and quality of VieVité Rosé. Year after year, Domaine Sainte Marie receives critical acclaim and industry award recognition for its consistently excellent wines, which benefit from the soft gradient slopes, and hot, dry days and cool summer nights.

As one of the leading wines within the esteemed portfolio of Turquoise Life Beverage Brands, VieVité is offered in two varietals: the fresh and delicate VieVité and the limited cask VieVité Extraordinaire, sourced from older, time-tested vines. Both exceptional expressions of Provencal Rosé wine pride themselves on their unique vinicultural history, with the wines exemplifying the rare and old Grenache vines from which they are harvested.

VieVité is produced from grapevines averaging 25 years old, and offers a fresh and delicate aroma of cherries and strawberries coupled with notes of spice to create a satisfying sensation on the palate with a forward fruit nose of peach, grape and apricot.

VieVité Extraordinaire is sourced from 80-year grapevines and produced in smaller quantities, capturing the attention of true rosé connoisseurs for its opulent fruit flavors and exuberant panache. This deliciously vibrant Rosé delights with its intense and well- balanced fruit flavors, dominant with strawberries and berries, and structured with an intensity that highlights the old vines it is made from. Both wines have been declared as exceptional examples of true Cotes De Provence Rosé by wine lovers and critics alike.

Rosé wine has been gaining in popularity in the U.S. each year as more and more new wine drinkers are educated about the production methods used to make it; how the process of allowing the red skins of the grapes to macerate for a shortened amount of time gives it its signature hue. Not to be confused with the similarly colored White Zinfandel wine of years past, true Rosé wines are absent of an overly sweet taste, which allows their quality and flavors to shine.

Turquoise Life Beverage Brands offers both VieVité and VieVité Extraordinaire across the United States in fine restaurants & bars, luxury resorts and hotels as well as wine boutiques. VieVité is also available internationally in the Netherlands, Turkey, and Greece.

Whether paired with a brunch, dinner, an ocean breeze, a poolside lounge, yachting or barbequing, VieVité is an ideal choice — any day — and all day. For the Silo, Jessica Kirk.

This Spring Improve Survival Of The Trees You Plant

Here are a few tips to give the trees you plant this spring the best chance of survival, so that they are tall and strong in 50 years when Canada celebrates its 200th anniversary.

Every year the landowners of the Grand River watershed collectively plant tens of thousands of trees. These trees help to restore the natural environment by protecting water quality in streams and rivers, providing wildlife corridors and purifying the air we breathe.



Unpredictable weather patterns mean it is even more important to keep planting trees. A number of crucial steps before and after planting will improve survival.

Right tree, right place

Factors such as soil texture, drainage and surrounding vegetation determine which tree species will thrive or die. Fine clay soils can hold trees like white cedar and Norway spruce. On the other hand, loose sandy soils are well suited to white pine and sugar maple. Silver maple and tamarack like wet sites, while larch and red oak will thrive in drier locations.

Road salt can contaminate the soil, but trees such as white spruce, larch and poplar have a higher tolerance for salt and these species are best for roadsides.

Site preparation

Preparing the land before planting will provide the best growth conditions for your trees. Clear areas of brush and invasive plants, such as European buckthorn. On larger sites, this can be done with a brush saw or a tractor and rotary mower to remove obstacles and provide growing space. Installing plastic mulch before tree planting is a great way to reduce weed competition and hold moisture in the soil. If planting into bare soil, seeding a cover crop of Dutch white clover is a great way to prevent excessive weed growth.

For the first years, control vegetation around the trees to make sure they have room to grow. This will give the trees the best chance of survival.

Click me to learn about Tree Planting incentives 🙂

Get trees into the soil quickly

The roots of bare-root stock (without soil around the roots) will dry out very fast when exposed to sun and wind and need to be planted very quickly. Keep these trees in their planting bag until they are directly planted into the ground. Potted trees can be kept in a shaded area and watered until they are planted.

Mulch madness

Mulching is one of the best ways to keep your trees growing well. Organic matter applied to the base of the tree acts as a blanket to hold moisture, protect against extreme soil temperatures and reduce grass competition. Make sure to place mulch in a donut shape around the tree, so that absolutely no mulch is touching the base of the tree. This can cause decay of vital root-collar tissue. A two to four inch layer of mulch at an inch or two away from the trunk is enough.

Water, water, water

For the first few years of growth, a tree expends a lot of energy trying to establish roots in the soil. Watering can be very important  during this time if rainfall is sparse. Water the tree right after planting and weekly during hot, dry weather. But be careful not to over water, because soggy soil inhibits the tree roots from accessing oxygen. There are many circumstances when watering is difficult due to distance from a water source or the number of trees planted.

Get help — here’s how

Landowners within the Grand River watershed who have at least two hectares (five acres) are eligible for help from the GRCA. This may include a visit by a forestry specialist, developing a planting plan, planting services and grants to offset the cost of the trees.

Please check online at or contact a forestry specialist at 519-621-2763 or for more information. Please mention The Silo when contacting.  Spring tree orders closed on March 1, but site visits are offered on an ongoing basis, so call anytime.

Annual GRCA tree sale May 12

The Grand River Conservation Authority’s annual tree sale takes place at the forestry barn at the GRCA head office, 400 Clyde Road, in Cambridge on Friday, May 12, 8 a.m. to noon.

Trees available include small bare-root seedlings, two or three foot potted trees and five to seven foot saplings of many species. In addition to trees, the sale includes native wildflower seed mixes and wildflower plugs. Cancelled orders, trees not picked up and nursery overruns are part of this sale. The sale is first come, first served and line ups start early. Once the sale starts, five or six vehicles are brought to the loading dock. As those people leave, more cars are brought in. The most popular trees sell out quickly, but there are always trees available at the end of the sale. More information is available on For the Silo, Lisa Stocco, Cam Linwood.



Will Ontario’s 2014 Poisonous Caterpillar Return This Summer?

The Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar as found on Prospect Street, Port Dover, Ontario
This Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar was found on Prospect Street, Port Dover, Ontario

Important safety tip: if you see a caterpillar that has hypodermic-like needles poking out from its body DON’T TOUCH.

That might seem like common sense but Summer 2014 had Ontarians reporting to emergency rooms and to family doctors with symptoms ranging from swelling and rashes to vomiting and intense pain. All this from a seemingly harmless caterpillar sting.

Nature has a way with defense mechanisms and the hickory tussock moth caterpillar is no exception. During mid to late Summer this caterpillar has one thing on its mind: time to cocoon. In order to accomplish that task, it needs to crawl around out in the open to discover the best places to begin its transformation. So it’s easy pickings if you’re a hungry bird. That explains the caterpillars needle like barbs and the poisonous toxin that they deliver.

Other signals to predators  that say “stay away” are black dots on the belly of the caterpillar .

If you see one of these critters the best way to handle them is to use a leaf or a stick to gently encourage the caterpillar to hop on board. That way you will remain safe when you transport them somewhere else- away from those areas that your family and pets enjoy. For the Silo, Jarrod Barker.

Music for caterpillar searching! Click me.
Music for caterpillar searching! Click me.

When Are We Going to Get Serious About Invasive Species- Phragmites?

The Phragmites invasion was identified as the number one concern facing the Long Point area at this summer’s Long Point Biosphere symposium on ecosystem stresses.

Phragmites growing along the Chesapeake Bay shoreline. image:
Phragmites growing along the Chesapeake Bay shoreline. image:

In the pond adjacent to my house, a few Phragmites plants appeared about 20 years ago. Those few stalks then turned into a patch covering 15 per cent of the pond. It took 20 years but I’ve now eliminated it – although it has cropped up elsewhere on our farm. I realize what I’ve seen for an increase is small in comparison to what has occurred in some areas, for example, Phragmites dominates the ditches along Highway 402.

More than 10 years ago, Dr. Scott Petrie and Long Point Waterfowl were one of the first to research the expansion of Phragmites in the Long Point area. At that time, the potential threat was just beginning to be realized. Its threat wasn’t widely known outside Long Point except amongst waterfowlers and naturalists.

The last session of the legislature debated Phragmites as a part of the Invasive Species Act. This bill has currently had its second reading.

My concern as a landowner is to have the tools to deal with Phragmites. The Invasive Species Act doesn’t provide this kind of help. Ideally, the Act should contain an education plan, funding and ways to prevent spread. The Act puts an emphasis on landowners to control invasive species, but doesn’t provide the wherewithal to make it happen.

This is not to say the Invasive Species Act is all bad legislation, it’s just big on stick and small on carrot.

Now in talking about tools, we realize the challenges of controlling Phragmites. It spreads through both seeds and rhizomes and is just about impossible to control without herbicide.

I recently attended a St. Williams meeting on Phragmites, hosted by the Ontario Phragmites Working Group and Long Point Ratepayers’ Association, that focused on methods of control. Control alternatives varied from manual extraction, to discing it under, to experimentation with herbicides, to prescribed burns. Herbicides are the best alternative for large areas, but the issue is approval needs to be granted for application over water.

When Phragmites colonizes an area, it spreads quickly and prevents the new growth of other plants. It’s also poor habitat for wildlife. It impacts humans as well through loss of recreational opportunities, negative tourism impacts, decline in property values and blocked sightlines.

Purple LoosestrifeWhen Purple Loosestrife was the hot invasive plant, I was Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources. In conjunction with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, hit squads went into areas where Loosestrife was rampant and manually removed it. It’s not that simple with Phragmites, and we have yet to see this kind of commitment from government.

During the St. Williams symposium, we learned the City of Thomas has tackled Phragmites with minimal expenditure. The goal is to have the city Phragmites-free by 2020. Lambton Shores has also been aggressive and the plant is now 99 per cent under control in the municipality.

When Purple Loosestrife was first identified as an issue, it was thought to be the worst invasive plant in the province’s history – Phragmites now has that dubious honour. It will take a concerted effort by government, communities and individuals to take it on. It’s time to get serious! For the Silo, MPP Toby Barrett

Toby Barrett

Why Radiation Protection makes sense- even at ‘Low’ Exposure levels

Geiger CounterRadiation is all around us.  It occurs naturally in our environment, coming to us from the sun, from the soil and foods that we eat, and in the air that we breathe. It is omnipresent across a diverse cross section of industries. We tend to associate radiation with the nuclear industry, but the reality is that we come across radiation sources in numerous other areas:  construction, health care, oil and gas, research, manufacturing, food processing – to name just a few.

With radiation being everywhere in our lives, it is not surprising that it garners a lot of attention, curiosity and, often, worry. With more than 15 years as a career radiation protection professional, I’ve had to respond to many occupational radiation safety questions — some have related to regulations and compliance, others to potential health effects of exposure and ways to minimize such exposure. In all cases, it is best to rely on well established radiation physics concepts and scientific data, where available.

While there is not much that we can do to escape natural background radiation exposure, we do want to avoid any unnecessary exposure to high levels of radiation, such as the potential hazard due to elevated radon (a radioactive gas) in our homes and workplaces.

Testing Radon In Canada Homes
Click to contact Radiation Protection Bureau

Radon testing of homes is the simplest first step you can take to protect yourself and your family from radon gas, but all too often we do not make the time to educate ourselves and make this a priority. Workplaces are required to have a radiation protection program in place that is appropriate for the type of radiation and potential risk in their industry. But it takes time and investment to develop these programs, and it requires the commitment of both employers and workers to put these programs into practice.

Our challenge is that radiation and its associated risks are not always well understood. On the one hand, we do not wish to alarm anyone unnecessarily, yet we want to make sure that the public, workers and employers are aware of the steps they need to take to stay safe.  Remember, we are talking about an “invisible” hazard that very rarely causes ill health effects in the short-term. Additionally, the existing radiation protection models are built on what we call the linear no-threshold concept, which, in simple terms, is based on studies of the atomic bomb survivors from the Second World War in Japan and other high-exposure situations, and extrapolates the information to the potential health effects of low exposures.

Low Levels Radiation
Click to read C-Nets ranking of Highest Radiation emitting cellphones

An agency of the World Health Organization (WHO) recently published a study on the health effects of low-level exposure to radiation that provides data to support the validity of the linear no-threshold model. We encourage all who read the study (available at The Lancet Haematology) to not get alarmed and to keep the study conclusions in perspective.

It suggests that extended exposure to low level of radiation increases the risk of developing leukemia. A frightening statement, but we have to keep in mind that the increased risk is small, in line with what we have estimated based on the modeling concepts. This boils down to two things: first, it is important that we continue to apply the ALARA principle — “As Low as Reasonably Achievable” — to all our of interactions with radiation; and second, that we continue to view the numbers associated with radiation and risk in the proper context. The study points to a “small increase” of risk of dying from cancer from low levels of radiation exposure.

Let’s put this into perspective.  If we extrapolate this study’s conclusions for nuclear workers to persons living near Canadian nuclear plants, people are 6,000 times more likely to die in a car accident, than to die from leukemia due to doses received from reactor plant emissions. Yet most of us think nothing of driving to work, driving our kids to school, or driving to visit friends and family.  The radiation risk is there, but it is significantly smaller than the risks we accept every day, often without even thinking or worrying about them.

More research is required on the health risks from low-level radiation exposure, and there are efforts underway around the world to make it happen. At the Radiation Safety Institute, we will be looking forward to hearing about more study results.  In the meantime we invite all people who are interested in the subject of radiation safety, who have a question or a concern, to reach out to our Free Information Service at 1-800-263-5803 or by e-mail at Let’s keep the conversation going.

 For the Silo, Laura Boksman Chief Scientist at the Radiation Institute of Canada.

Click to view on I-tunes
Click to view on I-tunes

Some Scientists urge caution on Underwater Mining but Enviro’s want full ban

For years they’ve poisoned rivers, devastated forests and displaced communities, and now massive companies are rushing to dig up the seabed for precious metals.

Sledge From Sea Mining Operations

Twenty-four people can stop this plunder of our planet’s most fragile places, and they’re meeting this week!! The International Seabed Authority normally attracts as little attention as an underwater mine miles offshore, but our community can change that.

A few countries have agreed full or partial bans, and leading scientists just appealed for a freeze on deep sea mining contracts. Let’s amplify their message with a million-strong call, take out ads to hand deliver to each delegate, then publish their names and their responses. Add your voice and send widely:

Mining companies claim they can mine the seabed safely, but authorities in Namibia, Australia and New Zealand recently blocked seabed mining projects. (see links below CP) Scientists point out that many deep water species are being discovered all the time, and that the ocean floor can take decades to recover from disturbances such as the creation of sediment plumes from mining.

There are limits to how deep Surface ships can reach- but is that enough to protect the deep of our Oceans?
There are limits to how deep Surface ships can reach- but is that enough to protect the deep of our Oceans?

The International Seabed Authority has already issued licenses for exploratory mining across 1.2 million square kilometres of ocean floor. The body is almost unknown, and its 24-person Legal and Technical Committee does the detailed scrutiny of proposals and environmental safeguards with minimal transparency. We now have a unique opportunity to put its twenty-four members on notice with a demand that they freeze all mining until independent science proves it safe and the ISA opens up to concerned scientists and citizens.

GreenPeace Graphic Deap Seabed Mining

Often, we don’t realize the value of our most precious ecosystems until they’re destroyed — but this time we have the chance to take action before this whole new threat lets rip across our oceans. Join the call for a freeze on deep-sea mining, so we can hit a million and deliver to all delegates before their meeting ends:

Together we’ve stood up to protect our earth’s most precious, awe inspiring ecosystems — from the majestic trees of the Amazon to the stunning species in the Great Barrier Reef. Now, we are standing on the brink of a new gold rush that could devastate an ecosystem that has so far escaped the ravages of mankind.

Click to view on I-tunes
Click to view on I-tunes

Deep sea mining: the new resource frontier? (Al-Arabiya)

Marine mining: Underwater gold rush sparks fears of ocean catastrophe (The Guardian)… 

New Interest in Seafloor Mining Revives Calls for Conservation (National Geographic)… 

Deep sea mining hopes hit by New Zealand decision (Financial Times) 

Scientists call for temporary halt on new deep sea mining projects (Popular Science)

Shedding some light on the International Seabed Authority (University of Southampton)

Canada Reassessing Glyphosate Roundup Herbicide Link To Cancer

Crop SprayingDear friends across Canada, top scientists warn the most commonly used herbicide in the world probably causes cancer. Monsanto is demanding the World Health Organization retract their ground-breaking report. And experts say the only way to ensure the science is not silenced is if the public demands action, now. The regulatory system is renowned for being secretive and captured by the agro-chemical industry. But we have a unique moment right now — Canada is officially reassessing glyphosate, with similar processes underway in the US, Europe, and Brazil. And the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, and El Salvador are all looking at a ban. [However, it must be noted that as of today’s posting, Canada Health’s Food Safety Inspection statement is that glyphosate formulations ARE safe CP]The threat is clear — this poison is used on our food, our fields, our playgrounds, and our streets. Let’s get it suspended.

Join the urgent call and tell everyone:

Monsanto is up in arms. Glyphosate brings in $6 billion per year. It is the basis of RoundUp, the chemical cornerstone of Monsanto’s Genetically Modified empire. The company says the WHO report ignored studies showing glyphosate is safe. But these scientists are 17 of the world’s top oncology experts, not a bunch of crazies. They comprehensively reviewed independent studies, excluding those done by companies seeking product approval.  Regulators rely mainly on tests done by the companies trying to sell the poisons!

Skeleton Scarecrows

Key results are kept from the public because they contain ‘commercially confidential information’, and 58% of the scientific panels in the EU Food and Safety Agency are linked to the sector. It’s nuts, but that is the system we have. And that’s why it’s going to take all of us to make sure this crucial independent report isn’t ignored. Some countries have already put bans on glyphosate. Now with the EU, the US, Canada, and Brazil all reviewing it, we have an incredible chance to turn the tide worldwide.

Fifty years ago Monsanto’s pesticide DDT was everywhere until the seminal book Silent Spring showed it could cause cancer — a decade later it was banned. If this could cause cancer, let’s not let it be sold for ten more years. Let’s demand emergency precautionary action now.

Join now and spread the word:


We’ve done it before — helped win a moratorium on bee-killing neonicotinoids in the EU and stop a Monsanto mega seed factory in Argentina. Now let’s protect our health and make sure we aren’t being used as lab rats. This could be a breakthrough moment in the fight for the safe, sustainable agriculture our world needs. With hope, Bert, Marigona, Antonia, Oliver, Alice, Emily, Danny, Nataliya, Ricken and the whole Avaaz team.

More information: New study points to link between weedkiller glyphosate and cancer (FT)


Monsanto seeks retraction for report linking herbicide to cancer (Reuters)

Weed Killer, Long Cleared, is Doubted (New York Times)

The Real Reason to Worry About GMOs (Mother Jones) 

Groups seek EPA glyphosate review after WHO ‘carcinogenic’ link (Agri Pulse)  

More sources:

Controlled burn planned to restore Grand River Watershed tallgrass prairie

Controlled burns help reduce fuel for wildfires and restore natural areas. photo: Mark Lovewell
Controlled burns help reduce fuel for wildfires and restore natural areas. photo: Mark Lovewell

A controlled burn will take place at Brant Park at 119 Jennings Road in early April.

The goal is to maintain and enhance the tallgrass prairie and other native plants on the property owned by the Grand River Conservation Authority.

The burn will be held when weather conditions allow. There must be several days of dry weather in advance of the burn, and there must be light or no wind on the burn day. About five hectares will be burned.

Fire is a normal part of the life cycle of prairie habitats. Native species can tolerate fire, so burning the land clears out non-native species. Fire also releases important nutrients into the soil, which promotes growth and increases seed yields.

At one time, about 25 per cent of the Grand River watershed was tallgrass prairie. Today, only one per cent remains.

Fire and smoke will be visible for up to four hours and will be easily seen from surrounding areas in Brantford and the County of Brant.

There will be no risk posed to adjacent properties as the prescribed burns will be contained within the GRCA land. The site will be closed to the public and signs will be posted to notify the public of the burn.

Brantford and Brant municipal governments, Brantford Airport, nearby property owners, fire departments, police and the ambulance service have been notified. The fire departments will be notified of the exact time of the prescribed burn.

The burn will be conducted by the Prescribed Burn Unit from Lands & Forests Consulting. The company strictly follows the intensive Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources guidelines for prescribed burning to ensure safety and effectiveness.

*Featured controlled burn image by J. Dengler/

Click me for important tax tips.
Click me for important tax tips.

Ontario Greens call on Premier to close loophole & ‘stop Midhurst Mega-Development’

Nottawasaga River - Minesing Wetlands, Ontario
Nottawasaga River – Minesing Wetlands, Ontario
Midhurst, ON – Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner is calling on Premier Wynne to close the loopholes and special deals allowing the Midhurst mega-development to threaten 1,900 acres of farmland and the Minesing Wetlands.
“I’m tired of political deals trumping what is good for our communities and protections for our foodlands and water systems,” says Schreiner. “It is wrong for the Liberal government to support a mega-sprawl development that breaks the core values of their own Places to Grow Act.”
The Midhurst Secondary Plan (MSP) breaks 16 guidelines and core values of Ontario’s Places to Grow Act. Midhurst is the only community in Ontario that is allowed to break all of these rules due to a rare ministerial order, or ” legislative loophole,” written just for Midhurst.
“If we have rules, shouldn’t we follow them?” asks Schreiner. “People are losing confidence in government when status quo politicians put special interests before the public good.”
Midhurst's Springwater Provincial Park will be affected by Ontario's plans.
Midhurst’s Springwater Provincial Park will be affected by Ontario’s plans.
Schreiner is calling on Premier Wynne to fulfill her campaign promise to review the MSP.
“The Premier needs to fulfill her promise to review the special loophole for the Midhurst Mega-Development,” says Schreiner. “She needs to show respect for the law and for the 45,000 people who have signed the petition to protect food and water from the Midhurst mega-development.”
Schreiner is especially concerned that Ontario is losing 365 acres of farmland every day. This is equivalent to losing an area the size of Toronto each year.
“Ontario can’t afford to put sprawl before food and water,” says Schreiner. “Government has to end the special deals that threaten our food and water.”
The Minesing "Swamp" wetlands
The Minesing “Swamp” wetlands

Shephardess Carrie Wooley Innovates With Dynamic Agriculture System


photo's: Carrie Wooley
photo’s: Carrie Wooley

Trying to find agricultural systems that are environmentally friendly and economically viable is a challenge facing the agriculture industry. So when a friend from New Zealand told us about how they graze sheep in fruit orchards we instantly liked the idea.  All of a sudden the apple and cherry orchards on the farm didn’t look just like orchards, they also looked like sheep pasture.  So we went for it and purchased our first group of ewes in January of 2013.  Our goal was to build a sheep production system that worked with the current farm set up and where we can produce quality lamb raised in an environmentally sustainable and welfare-friendly system.  

Our sheep graze permanent pastures in spring and early summer where they give birth to lambs, and are moved to orchards the rest of the year.

Utilizing the grass in the orchards allows us to reduce feed costs and grass cutting costs.  While the sheep convert grass and weeds into meat they also fertilize the orchards with their manure.  Having the sheep on pasture eliminates costs associated with keeping animals in barns such as bedding material and manure removal.  Lambs are born outside on pasture in May and June.  Raising lambs on pasture can bring challenges such as coyotes and internal parasites.  

To help protect our sheep from coyotes we utilize electric fences and livestock guardian dogs.  Livestock guardian dogs have been used for hundreds of years by shepherds to protect their sheep from people and predators. We use the Kuvasz and Maremma breeds of livestock guardian dogs, other guardian breeds include the Great Pyrenees, Akbash, and Anatolian Shepherds.  These amazing working dogs see the sheep as their family and guard them day and night. Raised with sheep from the time they are puppies, guardian dogs sleep with the flock at night and can even be found helping clean off newborn lambs.

Sheep Dogs in Norfolk County

The idea of a more dynamic and sustainable agricultural system is something we want to pursue.  We, as farmers and stewards of the land, recognize that we need to be inventive to keep soils and ultimately the environment healthy.  In agriculture there is always lots to learn and it provides me with an exciting and interesting line of work. 

Grand River Conservation effort targets phragmites- invasive reeds via Roundup


Portions of the Snyder’s Flats Conservation Area will be closed to the public during the week of Sept. 29 while a herbicide is used to control an outbreak of phragmites, an invasive plant species.

Signs will be posted in the parking lot at the entrance to the property on Snyder’s Flats Road near Bloomingdale. The affected sections of the trail network within the conservation area will be marked as closed.

Staff of the Grand River Conservation Authority will be applying the herbicide glyphosate, which is better known by the trade name Roundup. The herbicide has been widely adopted by conservation organizations as a safe and effective way to remove invasive species.

What Is Roundup

The work is scheduled to be done on Monday, Sept. 29 and Tuesday, Sept. 30. The affected areas will be posted for a day after the herbicide is applied. There is a potential that the work could be delayed if there is heavy rain or high winds.

In most areas, the herbicide will be applied by hand to individual plants. Some larger outbreaks will be tackled with backpack-style sprayers.

Phragmites australis, also known as European common reed, is a species that came to North America from Eurasia. According to Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program, the plant spreads quickly and out-competes native species for water and nutrients. It releases toxins from its roots into the soil to hinder the growth and kill surrounding plants.

Phragmites: tough hombres!
Phragmites: tough hombres!

In taking over from native plants, it also reduces the habitat available to wetland wildlife species including birds, turtles and other amphibians and reptiles.

GRCA staff  hope that by reacting quickly to its presence they can keep it from spreading throughout Snyder’s Flats and to other properties.

The work at Snyder’s Flats is part of the GRCA’s long-term program to return the former gravel pit area to a natural state that is home to a wide variety of plant, bird and animal species.

Click to view on I-tunes
Click to view on I-tunes

Rural Landowners In Mapleton May Apply For Tree Planting Grants


Thanks to NextEra Energy, owners of non-farm rural properties in Mapleton Township can take advantage of a new grant program to help them plant trees on their land.

The new program is an initiative of Trees for Mapleton. It is open to rural landowners with more than one hectare (2.5 acres) of property. It is targeted at projects that reduce wind erosion, protect groundwater recharge areas, create buffer strips along streams, connect natural areas and create wildlife habitat.

The grant money is financed from a donation from NextEra Energy.

Landowners could receive grants of up to $25 for each tree or shrub, including planting costs. A planting plan is required for properties over one hectare. Applicants may be required to sign an agreement to maintain the trees for 15 years. Projects will be approved by the Trees for Mapleton Committee.

For more information, please contact Mark Funk, GRCA forestry specialist at or by phone at 1-866-900-4722, Ext. 2259. Please mention the Silo when contacting.

Trees for Mapleton is a community initiative to increase the amount of tree cover in the township. It is supported by local landowners, the Wellington Green Legacy Program, the Grand River Conservation Authority, Mapleton Township and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

The new program for non-farm landowners is an addition to the range of programs available in Wellington County. Farmers remain eligible to apply for tree-planting grants through the Rural Water Quality Program.

New “Sugar bio Battery” set to power smartphones, tablets and other devices

Now for a bit of chemistry...don't fret if you don't understand this- basically a bunch of electrons are given off in a chain reaction making (you guessed it) electricity. Here's a more technical explanation: The new sugar-based biobattery consists of an anode (carbon paper coated with carbon nanotubes), a sulfonated tetrafluoroethylene copolymer (Nafion) membrane to separate the electrodes, and a platinum cathode. This electrode system is connected to a vessel filled with a cocktail of enzymes and mediators floating freely in solution. CP
Now for a bit of chemistry…don’t fret if you don’t understand this- basically a bunch of electrons are given off in a chain reaction making (you guessed it) electricity. Here’s a more technical explanation: The new sugar-based biobattery consists
of an anode (carbon paper coated with carbon nanotubes), a sulfonated tetrafluoroethylene
copolymer (Nafion) membrane to separate the electrodes, and a platinum cathode. This electrode system is connected to a vessel filled with a cocktail of enzymes and mediators floating
freely in solution. CP


Catalyzing Commercialization Sugar could some day be used to power smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices thanks to a recent breakthrough by Blacksburg, VA-based Cell-Free BioInnovations, Inc. It might seem strange to use an ingredient found in cupcakes and cookies as an energy source, but it’s not, as most living cells break down sugar to produce energy. And, interestingly, the energy density of sugar is significantly higher than that of current lithium-ion batteries.

Working under a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation, a research team led by Y-H Percival Zhang, Chief Science Officer of Cell- Free BioInnovations and an associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech, has successfully demonstrated the concept of a sugar biobattery that can completely convert the chemical energy in sugar substrates into electricity.

As reported in the January 2014 issue of Nature Communications, this breakthrough in sugar-powered biobattery can achieve an energy-storage density of about 596 A-h/kg — an order of magnitude higher than the 42 A-h/kg energy density of a typical lithium-ion battery.

A sugar biobattery with such a high energy density could last at least ten times longer than existing lithium-ion batteries of the same weight, drastically reducing how often users need to recharge their electronic devices. This nature-inspired biobattery is a type of enzymatic fuel cell (EFC)— an electrobiochemical device that converts chemical energy from fuels such as starch and glycogen into electricity.

NSF National  Science Foundation

While EFCs operate under the same general principles as traditional fuel cells, they use enzymes instead of noble metal catalysts to oxidize the fuel. Enzymes allow for the use of more-complex fuels (e.g. glucose), and these more-complex fuels are what give EFCs their superior energy density. For example, the complex sugar hexose can release 24 electrons per glucose molecule during oxidation, whereas hydrogen (a fuel used in traditional fuel cells) releases only two electrons. Until now, however, EFCs have been limited by incomplete oxidation, releasing just two to four electrons per glucose molecule.

“We are not the first who proposed using sugar as the fuel in the biobattery,” says Zhiguang Zhu, a senior scientist at Cell-Free BioInnovations. “However, we are the first to demonstrate the complete oxidation of the sugar in the biobattery, enabling our technology to have a near-theoretical energy conversion yield that no one has ever reported.”

Zhang and his team constructed a synthetic catabolic pathway (a series of metabolic reactions that break down complex organic molecules) containing 13 enzymes to completely oxidize the glucose units of maltodextrin, yielding nearly 24 electrons per glucose molecule.

We put specific thermostable enzymes into one vessel to constitute a synthetic enzymatic pathway that can perform a cascade of biological reactions the sugar, converting it into carbon dioxide, Zhang says. Unlike natural catabolic pathways for the oxidation of glucose in cells, the designed synthetic pathway does not require costly and unstable cofactors, such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), coenzyme A, or a labile cellular membrane. The researchers used two redox enzymes that generate reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) from sugar metabolites. NADH, a reducing agent involved in redox reactions, is a natural electron mediator that carries electrons from one molecule to another. They also used ten other enzymes responsible for sustaining metabolic cycles and an additional enzyme that transfers electrons from NADH to the electrode.

This new synthetic pathway enables the biobattery to extract the theoretical number of electrons per glucose unit and thereby use all the chemical energy in the sugar. This, the team reports, represents a significant breakthrough.

In addition to its superior energy density, the sugar biobattery is also less costly than the Li-ion battery, refillable, environmentally friendly, and nonflammable. While researchers  continue to work on extending the lifetime, increasing the power density, and reducing the cost of electrode materials for such a battery, they hope that the rapidly growing appetite for powering portable electronic devices could well be met with this energy dense sugar biobattery in the future. For the Silo, Zhiguang Zhu, chief scientist at”The Sweet Battery Project”.

This technology was funded through the America’s NSF Small Business Innovation Research Program.

Agrarians from ancient cultures world-wide knew about Biochar so should you

"When we started in 2011 to load biochar with high amounts of liquid NP-fertilizer and tested them in pod trials, we could prove reduced nutrient leaching after simulated strong rain events. When we planted a second culture (paprika after radish) in the same pods without additional fertilization, plant growth was significantly improved in the biochar treatments (see image). From an economic point of view, the difference in growth might have been not relevant as some additional fertilization would have been cheaper than the price of biochar that saved some mineral fertilizer. However working with low amounts of nutrient enhanced biochar [1 t per hectare]  applied as slow release fertilizer close to the roots every year seems very promising when viewed from both an economic and ecological perspective. " Ithaka Institute
“When we started in 2011 to load biochar with high amounts of liquid NP-fertilizer and tested them in pod trials, we could prove reduced nutrient leaching after simulated strong rain events. When we planted a second culture (paprika after radish) in the same pods without additional fertilization, plant growth was significantly improved in the biochar treatments (see image). From an economic point of view, the difference in growth might have been not relevant as some additional fertilization would have been cheaper than the price of biochar that saved some mineral fertilizer. However working with low amounts of nutrient enhanced biochar [1 t per hectare] applied as slow release fertilizer close to the roots every year seems very promising when viewed from both an economic and ecological perspective. ” Ithaka Institute
What Farmers Need to Know About Biochar  Agrarians from various ancient cultures around the world discovered the soil fertility benefits of charred biomass over two thousand years ago. Now known as ‘biochar’, this ancient soil management practice has been enjoying a renaissance of late for a number of reasons largely related to the need for more resilient and productive soils and biochar’s ability to sequester carbon in a safe and beneficial manner.

Biochar is made by baking organic material in an oxygen-limited environment, called pyrolysis. Benefits vary depending on the soil, crops and climate where biochar is used with poor soils benefiting the most. Providing long-lasting organic material, improving water and nutrient holding capacity, and improving overall soil tilth are all potential benefits. Due to its porous nature and cation exchange capacity, biochar can also be used as a filtration medium to prevent nutrient run-off from farms into local water bodies. In Europe livestock farmers are adding small amounts of biochar to feed rations to improve feed conversion ratios and overall animal health. Biochar as carbon fodder has also shown promise as a way to reduce enteric methane emissions.

Biochar is increasingly available to purchase but farmers can also convert their on-farm waste biomass in to biochar. Farm scale equipment for making biochar is evolving and shows promise not just as a waste conversion technology which produces a valuable soil amendment, but also as a means for farmers to generate renewable energy in the form of heat, and in some cases electricity.  For the Silo,  Kathleen Draper


Seen here: "...we focused on organic plant nutrients and started multiple tests with a wide variety of nutrient rich biomass wastes including: liquid animal manure, urine, feathers, yeasts, wool, vinasse etc. Over the past four years we have developed a panoply of organic carbon fertilizer that can be produced commercially or manufactured by farmers themself all over the world. One of our favourites is the sheep wool, vinasse, pyrolyse ash, biochar pellets with 7% Norg / 6.5% P2O5 / 6% K2O "
Seen here: “…we focused on organic plant nutrients and started multiple tests with a wide variety of nutrient rich biomass wastes including: liquid animal manure, urine, feathers, yeasts, wool, vinasse etc. Over the past four years we have developed a panoply of organic carbon fertilizer that can be produced commercially or manufactured by farmers themself all over the world. One of our favourites is the sheep wool, vinasse, pyrolyse ash, biochar pellets with 7% Norg / 6.5% P2O5 / 6% K2O “


Kathleen Draper is the US Director of the Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence, a non-profit focused on research, education and program services that promote climate positive solutions which enhance land management, urban design, and resource efficiency.  The Institute will be launching The Biochar Journal in June where farmers can find much more information on biochar.  Kathleen also owns and blogs about regionally relevant biochar use at Finger Lakes Biochar. Follow her on Twitter at ‘Biocharro’.

The Circle Game Port Dover



Letter to the Silo- Why we march globally against Monsanto

It takes strength to usher in change and there's strength in numbers.
It takes strength to usher in change and there’s strength in numbers.

For those who are not aware of Monsanto or its global influence, I would like to provide you with some background information before explaining just why it is important to stand against the corporation and its actions.

 Monsanto is an international agricultural corporation which is based out of the United States. It originated in 1901 and has functioned mainly as a pesticide corporation but as of recently it has been implementing genetically engineered seeds. These seeds, which are being sold and grow in many parts of the world, do not have the ability to reproduce, thereby forcing farmers to purchase a new set of seeds from the company each season. In many situations, the farmers have no choice but to continue paying into the corporation because no other seeds are available in their area. Monsanto is also the leader producer (and creator) of the herbicide “Glyphosate” (a herbicide which is used specifically to kill weeds around the GM crops but leave the crops un-harmed. This is made possible through the genetic tampering of the seeds which makes them resistant to the herbicide).

Monsanto has been adamantly rejecting many accusations that have been coming their way in more recent years. In fact, they go out of their way to address the international conversation that has been taking place about their “terminator” seeds and their inability to reproduce (provide seeds that can then be planted the following season). They claim in a statement on their website that “Monsanto has never commercialized a biotech trait that resulted in sterile – or “terminator” – seeds” (Monsanto Website). The website is littered with fabricated stories, pictures of smiling farmers and claims that Monsanto has their best interests at heart. The truth is many farmers are struggling to make the expensive purchases of Monsanto seeds and herbicide. Debt is rising in rural areas around the world (India taking one of the hardest hits, with thousands of farmer suicides being said to be associated with debt owed to Monsanto and their inability to support themselves) and a countless number of individuals are suffering because of the negative side effects. Monsanto has a huge stake in the worlds production of seeds and is already working on spreading their patents to broccoli and eggplant despite international disagreement.

This is why we march. The global March Against Monsanto is a worldwide call of action aimed at informing the public of the long term health, environmental, and financial effects of genetically modified foods. Last years globalized day of action took place with over 2 million people took to the streets to express their opinions and attempt to reclaim the food systems. We march for seed freedom (because seeds are a source of life, and corporations should not have the ability to patent life), for the labeling of GMO foods, to promote organic and sustainable alternatives, to demand the accountability of those responsible for corruption, and to further the scientific research around GMOs. On May 24th we united against the corporations who are threatening our heath, our children and our planet and marched against Monsanto at Victoria Park, Brantford Ontario.

Letters to the Silo





Russell Ave In Ottawa Past Winner Of Canada’s Best Garden Street

Congratulations! Russell Avenue in Ottawa’s Sandy Hill neighbourhood is the winner of the Canada’s Best Garden Street contest.
Russell Avenue in Ottawa’s Sandy Hill
neighbourhood is the winner of the Canada’s Best Garden Street contest.

Toronto, ON Garden Days – The month of June hosts Canada’s three-day celebration of gardens and gardening. There are loads of Garden Days official activities scheduled across the country, and almost every province has a Flagship Event for you to enjoy. It’s the perfect time to get dirty in one’s own garden, visit a nearby public garden or spend some time in a local garden center.


You’ll be in great company
If you’re planning travelling around the province or across Canada this Summer, be sure to visit a few of the many public gardens that we’re becoming world renowned for.  Dr. Richard Benfield, author of ‘Garden Tourism’ estimates that annually there are 6 million garden tourists in Canada.

And the winner is . . .

On the occasion of our upcoming National Garden Day, Friday, June 13, the Canadian Garden Council is pleased to announce the winner of the Garden Days’ ‘Best Garden Street’ Contest which celebrates the contribution that public and/or private gardens have made to the quality of life on individual streets and neighbourhoods.  The winner of $1000 worth of Marks’ Choice Lawn and Garden products from Home Hardware, and the bragging rights to be named ‘Canada’s Best Garden Street’ is: Mary Moreland, Russell Avenue, Ottawa.

Garden Days spokesperson, Mark Cullen, recently said, “The partnership between the hand of man and Mother Nature has produced some of the highest quality green spaces and gardens in Canada and on earth.  Garden Days, a new idea that’s all about this successful collaboration, has been sown on fertile soil.  I have no doubt that the ideas and principles behind the concept will sprout and grow into national significance.  And the sooner the better.”
This coming weekend join in the national celebration of everything that the Garden contributes the quality of all our lives.

Garden Days are a family affair. Photo: Pierre Boucher
Garden Days are a family affair. Photo: Pierre Boucher

Organized by the Canadian Garden Council, and kicked off with National Garden Day, always the Friday before Father’s Day, Garden Days is a three-day celebration of gardens and gardening.  The program’s objective is to draw attention to Canada’s garden culture, history and innovations and to underscore the importance of public and private gardens, the values of home gardening and the promotion of environmental stewardship. For the Silo, Courtney Charette.

Grand River Watershed Forests are returning and rising on former farmer’s fields

The Grand River watershed was 85 per cent forest 200 years ago. However, tree cover dropped to just five per cent by 1900 as land was cleared for farming and urban areas. Today, the tree cover has rebounded to about 19 per cent. Environment Canada suggests a healthy watershed needs a tree cover of about 30 per cent.
The Grand River watershed was 85 per cent forest 200 years ago. However,
tree cover dropped to just five per cent by 1900 as land was cleared for farming and
urban areas. Today, the tree cover has rebounded to about 19 per cent. Environment
Canada suggests a healthy watershed needs a tree cover of about 30 per cent.

New forests are rising on old farm fields in Mapleton Township  in an effort to improve water quality in streams feeding Conestogo Lake reservoir.  About 70,000 trees are being planted this year and next on two parcels of land totalling 40 hectares (100 acres) on the north side of the reservoir.

The GRCA is planting a variety of species that are native to the area, including spruce, tamarack, white pine, bur oak, silver maple and cottonwood. In addition to the new forests, the GRCA will also do some reshaping of the landscape to create some seasonal wetlands that will also help improve water quality and provide additional habitat.

As the trees grow in coming years, the areas will quickly become home to a variety of animals, such as deer and wild turkeys. Later, as the forests mature, it’s expected that several bird species including scarlet tanagers, ovenbirds and great horned owls will take up residence. A 12 hectare parcel near Wellington Road 10 and Concession Road Five has been planted this year. The second parcel of 28 hectares is near Concession Road 5 and Sideroad 15. About 18 hectares has been planted this year and the rest will be planted in 2015. The land was acquired by the GRCA when it built the reservoir in the 1950s. It has been leased to farmers since then.

These two parcels of land were prone to erosion which sent a lot of sediment down the streams into the reservoir, explained Ron Wu-Winter, watershed forester with the GRCA. In addition, the sediment also carried nutrients – phosphorous and nitrates – which are found in manure and commercial fertilizers. The nutrients would spur algae and plant growth in the reservoir, resulting in lower water quality.

The northwestern part of the Grand River watershed contains some of the best farmland in Ontario. As a result, the forest cover is some of the lowest in the watershed. Forest cover is estimated at 15 per cent or less. A healthy watershed should have forest cover of about 30 per cent. Trees help raise water quality in several ways. They soak up nutrients in the soil, so reduce the volume that runs off the surface into a watercourse. Trees along a stream shade it, keeping it cooler in summer which is good for some coldwater fish species.

The total cost of the project is about $150,000. About $50,000 was contributed by the Grand River Conservation Foundation. It is also supported by the Trees Ontario Foundation which is contributing $65,000. For the Silo, Dave Schultz.

Tree Facts
* Across the entire watershed, the GRCA will plant about 400,000 trees this year, including 95,000 on its own land and 300,000 in partnership with private land owners.
* The GRCA operates a nursery near Burford, in Brant County, where it grows more than 150,000 trees a years from 60 different species.
* Since it was created in 1934, the GRCA has planted more than 27 million trees on both private land and its own land.
The Grand River watershed was 85 per cent forest 200 years ago. However, tree cover dropped to just five per cent by 1900 as land was cleared for farming and urban areas. Today, the tree cover has rebounded to about 19 per cent. Environment Canada suggests a healthy watershed needs a tree cover of about 30 per cent.
* To learn more about the GRCA’s tree planting program, go to the Tree Planting section of the GRCA website  The GRCA will help private landowners develop planting plans, plant the trees and find grants to offset costs.

Supplemental- Turning farm land back into forest-

Downtown Brantford

Prettiest street? Enter Canadian Garden Council’s “Best Garden Street” Contest

'Garden Days' - June 13, 14 & 15 - are the ideal time to see what lies beyond your nearest public garden's gate. Photo: Tara Nolan
‘Garden Days’ – June 13, 14 & 15 – are the ideal time to see what lies beyond your nearest public garden’s gate.
Photo: Tara Nolan

DO YOU LIVE ON CANADA’S BEST GARDEN STREET? Canada is a country made up of neighbourhoods, and in many are streets where neighbours take pride in making their gardens – and even city-owned medians – as pretty as possible through their collaborative ‘green thumbed’ efforts.

As part of this year’s Garden Days program, being held across the country from June 13 to 15, the Canadian Garden Council invites you to enter the ‘Best Garden Street’ Contest. Let us know why your street is the prettiest in the country and how it contributes to your, and the neighbourhood’s, quality of life. You could win $1,000 worth of Mark’s Choice Lawn and Garden products from Home Hardware and the bragging rights of being named the best garden street in the country.

Entering the contest couldn’t be easier.  Just visit and click on the ‘Garden Street Contest’ button.  Deadline for entries is June 9, and the winner will be announced on the website on June 13, which is National Garden Day, a full moon and a Friday the 13th.

With all these ‘planets in alignment’ there could not be a more auspicious time for entering the Garden Days ‘Best Garden Street’ Contest.

Twelve garden gnomes have escaped from The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island!  Might they be among the dahlias?  Help find them during 'Garden Days', June 13, 14 & 15
Twelve garden gnomes have escaped from The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver
Island! Might they be among the dahlias? Help find them during ‘Garden Days’, June 13, 14 & 15

Garden Days is organized by the Canadian Garden Council, and begins with National Garden Day on the Friday before Father’s Day, Garden Days is a three-day celebration of gardens and gardening across Canada.  The program’s objective is to draw attention to Canada’s garden culture, history and innovations and to underscore the importance of public and private gardens, the values of home gardening and the promotion of environmental stewardship. Garden Days is a joyful, country-wide celebration of the role of gardens in our communities and in our lives. To find a Garden Days activity near you visit: and click on the ‘Activity’ button. For the Silo, Courtney Charette.

Garden Days is sponsored by:  VIA Rail Canada, Enterprise Canada, Chimpanzee and Baxter Travel Media, Mark’s Choice and supported by Communities in Bloom and the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association.

Follow Garden Days on Twitter  and join in the conversation at #GardenDaysCanada

Safe Living With Urban And Rural Coyotes

Ontario MNR Fact Sheet Coyote

Coyotes, like other wild animals, sometimes come into conflict with humans. Since migrating to Ontario from the west more than 100 years ago, coyotes have adapted well to urban environments and can now be found in both rural and urban settings. Coyotes can be found across Ontario but are most abundant in southern agricultural Ontario and urban areas.

Changes in land use, agricultural practices, weather, supplemental feeding and natural food shortages may contribute to more coyote sightings in your community.


Homeowners can take steps to make sure coyotes aren’t attracted to their property and to keep their pets safe. To reduce the potential for coyote encounters, the Ministry of Natural Resources has the following tips for the public.


Do not approach or feed coyotes

  • Coyotes are usually wary of humans and avoid people whenever possible. However, they are wild animals and should not be approached.


  • People should NOT feed coyotes — either intentionally or unintentionally. It makes them less fearful of humans and makes them accustomed to food provided by humans.
  • Aggressive behaviour towards people is unusual for coyotes, but people should always exercise caution around wildlife. Secure garbage, compost and other attractants
  • Do not provide food to coyotes and other wildlife. Properly store and maintain garbage containers to help prevent coyotes from becoming a problem.
  • In the fall, pick ripe fruit from fruit trees, remove fallen fruit from the ground and keep bird feeders from overflowing as coyotes eat fruit, nuts and seeds.
  • In the summer, protect vegetable gardens with heavy-duty garden fences or place vegetable plants in a greenhouse. Check with your local nursery to see what deterrent products are available.
  • Place trash bins inside an enclosed structure to discourage the presence of small rodents, which are an important food source for coyotes.
  • Put garbage at curb-side the morning of the scheduled pickup, rather than the night before.
  • Use enclosed composting bins rather than exposed piles. Coyotes are attracted to dog and cat waste as well as products containing meat, milk and eggs.
  • Consider eliminating artificial water sources such as koi ponds.
  • Keep pet food indoors.Use deterrents and fences to keep coyotes away from your home and gardens
  • Use motion-sensitive lighting and/or motion-activated sprinkler systems to make your property less attractive to coyotes and other nocturnal wildlife.
  • Fence your property or yard.  It is recommended the fence be at least six-feet tall with the bottom extending at least six inches below the ground and/or a foot outward, so coyotes cannot dig under the fence.  A roller system can be attached to the top of the fence, preventing animals from gaining the foothold they need to pull themselves up and over the top of a fence.
  • Electric fencing can also help deter coyotes from properties or gardens in some circumstances.2/…
  • Clear away bushes and dense weeds near your home where coyotes may find cover and small animals to feed upon.
  • Close off crawl spaces under porches, decks, and sheds. Coyotes use these areas for denning and raising young.
  • Keep pets safe
  • Cats and small dogs may be seen as prey by coyotes, while larger dogs may be injured in a confrontation. To avoid these situations consider the following suggestions:
  • Install proper fencing.
  • As coyotes are primarily nocturnal, pets should be kept inside at night.
  • Keep all pets on leashes or confined to a yard.
  • Keep cats indoors and do not allow pets to roam from home.
  • Spay or neuter your dogs. Coyotes are attracted to, and can mate with, domestic dogs that have not been spayed or neutered.
  • If you encounter a coyote
  • Do not turn your back on or run. Back away while remaining calm.
  • Use whistles and personal alarm devices to frighten an approaching or threatening animal.
  • If a coyote poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety, call 911.
  • Never attempt to tame a coyote.Reduce risk of predation on livestock
  • Barns or sheds can provide effective protection from the threat of coyotes preying on livestock.
  • Guard animals, such as donkeys, llamas and dogs, can be a cost-effective way to protect livestock from coyotes. Guard animals will develop a bond with livestock if they are slowly integrated and will aggressively repel predators.
  • Landowners are responsible for managing problem wildlife, including coyotes, on their own property.
  • The Ministry of Natural Resources helps landowners and municipalities deal with problem wildlife by providing fact sheets, appropriate agency referrals, and information on steps they can take to address problems with wildlife.
  • The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act sets out the legal actions property owners can take to deal with problem wildlife. Generally, landowners or their agents may harass, capture or kill problem wildlife to prevent damage to their property.
  • Licensed small game hunters and trappers may also hunt and trap coyotes where local bylaws permit. There is no closed season for coyotes in the majority of southern Ontario.


Creating Cleaner Air in Ontario Province Has Eliminated Coal Fired Generation

Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy "Getting off coal is the single largest climate change initiative undertaken in North America and is equivalent to taking up to seven million cars off the road."
Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy “Getting off coal is the single largest climate change initiative undertaken in
North America and is equivalent to taking up to seven million cars off the road.”

Ontario is now the first jurisdiction in North America to fully eliminate coal as a source of electricity generation. The Thunder Bay Generating Station, Ontario’s last remaining coal-fired facility, has burned its last supply of coal. Operated by Ontario Power Generation, Thunder Bay Generating Station was the oldest coal-fired station in the province.  The plant is scheduled to be converted to burn advanced biomass, a renewable fuel source. The province has replaced coal generation with a mix of emission-free electricity sources like nuclear, waterpower, wind and solar, along with lower-emission electricity sources like natural gas and biomass. Read more below the following infographic.

Ontario Energy Infographic

Ontario has fulfilled its commitment to end coal generation in advance of its target of the end of 2014. A coal-free electricity supply mix has led to a significant reduction in harmful emissions, as well as cleaner air and a healthier environment.

Providing clean, reliable and affordable power is part of the government’s economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow. The comprehensive plan and its six priorities focus on Ontario’s greatest strengths – its people and strategic


*   Thunder Bay Generating Station came into service in 1963.
*   Converting the station to advanced biomass will retain 60 jobs in Thunder Bay.
*   Last year, Ontario introduced the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air
Act , which would ensure coal-fired generation as a source of electricity in the province never happens again.
*   Since 2003, Ontario’s coal closure plan has eliminated up to 30 megatonnes of emissions annually. The closure of Thunder Bay Generating Station marks the end of coal fired emissions from electricity generation in Ontario.
*   According to a 2005 independent study, “Cost Benefit Analysis: Replacing Ontario’s Coal-Fired Electricity Generation ,” the estimated cost of coal generation was approximately $4.4 billion annually when health, environmental, and financial costs were taken into consideration.


*   Learn more about the financial, environmental and health impacts of dirty coal.<>
*   Learn more about how Ontario’s air quality is improving in the Air Quality in Ontario Report for
*   Read the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) study on outdoor
air pollution as a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths<>.


“Getting off coal is the single largest climate change initiative undertaken in
North America and is equivalent to taking up to seven million cars off the road.
Today we celebrate a cleaner future for our children and grandchildren while
embracing the environmental benefits that our cleaner energy sources will bring.”
— Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy


Still time to apply for schools, community to apply for GRCA enviro grants

Green Money? It's available! image: CP
Green Money? It’s available! image: CP


There’s still time to apply for grants for schoolyard and community environmental projects offered by the Grand River Conservation Authority and the Grand River Conservation Foundation. Deadline for applications is Feb. 28. The two groups are offering Community Conservation Grants in two categories:

*         Community groups can get up to $1,000 for conservation projects that are tangible and available for use or benefit of the entire community. For example, previous recipients have built a river access point, carried out habitat restoration and planted trees.

*         Elementary schools in the Grand River watershed can get up to $750 to pay for natural elements (e.g. trees, shrubs, seeds, plants) of a schoolyard naturalization project. Details and an application form are available on the GRCA website at> . Look for “Community Conservation Grants” in the “Taking Action” section. The deadline for applications is Feb. 28. Grants will be distributed in the spring.

Money for the grants comes from two sources:

*         The GRCA’s Thiess Riverprize Endowment Fund, which was established with the monetary portion of the GRCA’s 2000 Brisbane, Australia award for excellence in watershed management.

*         The Foundation’s Grand Champions Fund, established through private donations to support local environmental work. For the Silo, Dave Schultz, GRCA Manager of Communications

Conservation Authority: Please Help acknowledge those improving Grand River



GRCA wants to recognize Watershed Heroes for environmental and heritage efforts. Do you know a watershed hero? They’re the individuals, families, groups and businesses that put their time and energy into improving the Grand River watershed.

Many do it without recognition, satisfied with the legacy they leave for future generations. Well, the Grand River Conservation Authority thinks they deserve to be acknowledged, so is looking for nominations for its annual Watershed Awards. The GRCA has presented the awards since 1976.

Worth protecting!
Worth protecting!

Once again, there are the two regular categories for environmental work. But this year a special one-time category was added in honour of the 20th anniversary of the designation of the Grand River system as a Canadian Heritage River. Here are the award categories:

*         Honour Roll Awards are presented for a sustained record of environmental achievement over an extended period of time.

*         Watershed Awards for outstanding examples of environmental work

*         Special Heritage Awards for those who have advanced the river-related heritage and recreational attributes that were recognized in the Heritage River designation. More information on the Heritage River designation can be found in the “Heritage River” section of the GRCA website at

Nominations can come from anyone in the watershed. The deadline for nominations is May 1, 2014. More information on the program, including short biographies of past winners and a nomination form, can be found in the “Watershed Awards” section of the GRCA website. Please mention the Silo when contacting. The winners will be honoured at a special event in the fall. Stay tuned to The Silo for updates. CP

Help End Peru’s Savage Dolphin Hunt By Adding Your Signature

Letters to the Silo

Dear Silo,

Up to 15,000 dolphins are being killed every year in Peru’s waters — for bait to catch endangered sharks. A new report has forced the government to respond but they’re not taking enough action yet and meanwhile the dolphins and the sharks are being killed. We can stop the massacre by threatening Peru’s international reputation as a tourism destination. Sign now and share: 


I just saw a report on the news in Peru showing how fishermen are slaughtering up to 15,000 dolphins every year — for bait to catch endangered sharks. The entire story made me sick — and now I’m fighting to end this nightmare.
My government is starting to react, but they’re not taking enough action yet. Dolphin hunting is already illegal and punishable with several years in prison, but authorities are turning a blind eye — allowing thousands of dolphins and sharks to be butchered. The government cares a lot about Peru’s international reputation, especially for tourism, and if we can make them feel embarrassed with a massive global campaign, I’m sure they’ll start taking action to end the massacre.

Once I deliver a million signatures from all over the world to the government of Peru, Avaaz will place ads in tourism magazines in countries where most of our tourists come from and the government won’t be able to ignore us! Help me stop the brutal slaughter by signing now:

When I saw this horrific hunt I realised I needed to do something about it before our dolphins and sharks are gone forever. So I decided to set up a petition and shared it with my friends and in less than 24 hours over 10,000 people had signed it!

Partially butchered Dolphin, found on Bujama beach on 1.24.13 image:
Partially butchered Dolphin, found on Bujama beach on 1.24.13 image:

Our oceans are under attack. Sharks and dolphins already face threats from pollution, climate change and entanglement in fishing gear. They play an important role as ocean predators and need to be protected — not butchered. Many marine ecosystems are on the verge of collapse from which they won’t recover and they will not wait while our politicians dither around making empty statements.

Tourism is Peru’s third largest industry, growing faster than any other South American country. Visitors are coming to see our pristine wilderness and eco-tourism is very important. We can create a serious threat by taking out hard-hitting ads in key countries where most visitors are coming from. Our government will realise people not only love our country because of the Machu Picchu and local gastronomy but also because they love our oceans and wildlife. Sign now and share this with everyone:

As an Avaaz member I’ve been truly amazed at our ability to help protect our oceans. At first, I wanted to get 15,000 signatures to represent the 15,000 dolphins that are killed every year but together we can represent all the dolphins and the sharks that can be saved in Peru’s waters!

With hope and excitement,

Zoe — together with the Avaaz Community Petitions Team

This petition was started on the Avaaz Community Petitions Site. It’s quick and easy to start a petition on any issue you care about, click here:


Dolphins killed for shark bait in Peru (CNN)

Dolphin Slaughter Fueled by Illegal Shark Trade (National Geographic)

Revealed: brutal reality of (The Ecologist)
world’s ‘biggest dolphin hunt’

Ontario’s cuts to MNR threatening- GPO leader Schreiner

The MNR receives less funding today than it did in 1992. Schreiner is calling for cost recovery for MNR services starting with an increase in the aggregate extraction levy to provide funding for the MNR.
The MNR receives less funding today than it did in 1992. Schreiner is calling for cost recovery for MNR services starting with an increase
in the aggregate extraction levy to provide funding for the MNR.





Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner is calling on the government to reverse cuts to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR)
in order to protect natural heritage and responsibly manage natural assets.

“Liberal cuts to the MNR threaten the places we love,” says Schreiner. “Greens will fight to protect food and water while pushing the government to manage valuable resources responsibly.”

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario in his annual report today [Oct 10th]  Ontario Environmental Commissioner Report 2013 documents how budget cuts have transformed the MNR. According to the ECO, the Liberal government is gutting the MNR’s ability to protect our environment and responsibly manage natural resources. The MNR receives less funding today than it did in 1992. Schreiner is calling for cost recovery for MNR services starting with an increase in the aggregate extraction levy to provide funding for the MNR.

Gord Miller Environmental Commissioner


“The Liberal’s failure to manage our natural capital responsibly is appalling and short-sighted,” according to Schreiner. “It makes no sense for the government to walk away from protecting natural assets worth $84 billion. It’s disappointing that the opposition parties have let the government get away with this. Our children deserve better.”

An MNR study estimates the value of ecosystem services in southern Ontario alone at $84 billion. Numerous stakeholders called for an increase in the aggregate extraction levy to provide the MNR with more capacity during hearings on the Aggregate Resources Act last year.

Ontario currently charges 11.5 cents per tonne for aggregates. Quebec charges 50 cents per tonne. The United Kingdom charges even more per tonne.

“Even the aggregate industry has asked for an increase in the levy. But the Liberals have failed to act,” says Schreiner. “Instead they’ve gutted the Endangered Species Act and cut funding for the MNR even more.”

“The Liberals have put private interests before the public good in the Ring of Fire and in the management of crown land,” says Schreiner. “All three parties at Queen’s Park should be ashamed for failing to protect the places we love. We must demand better. The status quo must change.”   For the Silo, Amy Watson

Supplemental- Executive Summary of Aggregate Industry Ontario


Helping Hands Thrift Shop

High flows return to Grand River watershed- Water Safety statement issued

Flood Alert GRCA 











Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety—Warning first issued Oct 7—-

Rainfall means high flows in rivers and streams and most of the Grand River watershed received 20 to 50 mm of rain over the weekend with the majority falling on Sunday evening. This frontal system has moved to the east, leaving rivers and streams throughout the watershed with high flows which will last through mid-week.

The high flows from Boomer Creek, along with increased discharge from Conestogo Lake, has forced the closure of the Low Level Bridge crossing the Conestogo River on Three Bridges Road, upstream of St. Jacobs.

Recreational users of rivers and streams throughout the watershed should be extra vigilant around waterways this week.  Anglers, canoeists and kayakers should be aware of the higher flows and plan their activities accordingly.

*   Low flowing tributaries could be dangerous where they meet with higher flowing streams and rivers.

*   Some low-lying areas along rivers will be flooded but there is no threat to communities.

*   Levels in Belwood Lake, Conestogo Lake and Guelph Lake will fluctuate due to the high inflows and subsequent discharges.

*   Banks adjacent to rivers and creeks are slippery and, when combined with fast-moving water, pose a serious hazard. Parents are strongly encouraged to keep their children and pets away from water courses.

GRCA staff will monitor flows and reservoir inflows and will adjust discharges accordingly to help stabilize reservoir levels.


*         For more information on flows, weather and reservoir conditions see  the River Data section of the GRCA website


*         For more information on the flood warning system see the Flood Management section of the website.


*         Follow GRCA at flood messages on Twitter


*         Download a fact sheet   on GRCA flood message terminology.

*For the Silo, Dave Schultz, GRCA Manager of Communications


Tims Tires Hagersville


Letter to the Silo claims 100’s of media outlets lying about climate change

Letters to the Silo












Dear Silo,

In 24 hours, the world’s leading climate experts will release the most important report about our planet’s future in decades — but big oil and energy are rallying their worst bully to undermine this global wake up call: Rupert Murdoch and his huge conservative media empire. Let’s beat back his attack by calling him out to tell the climate truth before it’s too late: 

Sign the petition

In 24 hours [Sept 28th, 2013 CP], the world’s top scientists will release the most important report in decades: proving once and for all that climate change is a massive threat, but that government action now can stop catastrophe. It’s a global wake up call to save our planet, but big oil and dirty energy have a powerful bully who’s rallying to stop the truth from coming out.

Rupert Murdoch owns hundreds of major media outlets including ultra conservative Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, and he’s using his media power to help his oil buddies stop governments acting to curb their profits. In the US alone, a shocking 80% of climate stories from Murdoch’s select papers mislead readers about global warming! Now he’s set his sights on this groundbreaking report, and his media empire will dominate the conversation unless people around the world stand together and drown him out.

Battles like this are won or lost in the court of public opinion. One giant global petition supporting climate truth plus letters to the editor, tweets, social media messages could be the blows we need to win this fight. Let’s call Murdoch out now and persuade him to back off his attack on science and report the truth. Join now and spread the word — when our call reaches 1 million we’ll send a group of the world’s best scientists to directly give him the facts:

This report written by 2000(!) scientists will be the most comprehensive body of evidence on global warming in years. It states that global warming is “unequivocally” human made, and that urgent action is required by our governments to avert the impact it could have on our earth through droughts, storms, sea level rise, melting glaciers and ice sheets. Climate change will affect all of us, starting with our coral islands, our crops, our seas, and our coastal cities, everywhere!

Can somebody open a window?
Can somebody open a window?

But acting to reverse the damage to our planet will take courage and politicians have used the false “climate debate” fueled by right-wing climate deniers as excuses for inaction. That’s why big oil and energy spend so much time funding junk science to question the fact of climate change and the plan needed to reverse its devastation. Murdoch is such a powerful friend because he gives the junk tons of media play around the world. Others join in and they drag more balanced media down as editors feel compelled to mention this phony debate in the name of “objectivity”.

Government representatives are sitting down with the scientists right now to determine what this report means and what needs to be done. It could be the catalyst for global action that is vital to salvage our earth, but if our media outlets follow Murdoch’s lead, we’ll lose this key moment for visionary policy that is critical to stop the global crisis of our time.

Let’s get the media to report the truth, end the false climate debate and start the serious battle to end climate change. Sign the petition now to call out Murdoch’s spin:

Scientists say if we don’t act now, it’s over. We will simply tip over the point where we can stop the impact of global warming. Our political leaders are beginning to recognize that they must act. The dirty polluters and media mafia will all do their best to keep their income coming in, but momentum and truth are on our side. If we come together, we know we can stop the wacko noise and save the future for our children and grandchildren, but we must win this battle now.

With hope,
Alice, Jamie, Iain, Luis, Emma, Bissan, Laura, Ricken, Jooyea and the rest of the Avaaz team
What 95% certainty of warming means to scientists (Huffington Post)
The 5 stages of climate denial are on display ahead of the IPCC report (The Guardian)
Is News Corp. Failing Science? (Union of Concerned Scientists)
Dollars for Deniers: Big Oil Funds Climate Science Denialism  (Daily Kos)
Global Warming Is Very Real (Rolling Stone)
Climate Change Report From UN Introduces Purple Color To Depict Worsening Climate Risks (Associated Press)
Rupert Murdoch’s Newspapers Mislead Public On Climate Change and Environment (DeSmog Blog)


Silo Print Ad Price Beat Guarantee

New two-toned pull on style from Blundstone Boots this Fall

Blundstone wearers are devoted- its not that unusual for the artist types to even sketch their beloved, worked-in Blunds....  sketch: Richard McLean image:
Blundstone wearers are devoted- its not that unusual for the artist types to even sketch their beloved, worked-in Blunds…. sketch: Richard McLean image:


It’s A New Take on a Classic Look  TORONTO, ONT – Blundstone Footwear, known for its lasting comfort, style and durability, recently announced the release of their new two-toned styles. A pair of Blundstone boots has a way of replacing a big chunk of your everyday footwear. Not only because Blundstone boots are so functional, but also because these are boots you want to wear every day. The new two-tone styles aim to appeal to those who like a bit more colour in their fashion choices. Blundstone’s two-tone styles give you the same fantastic quality in a more colourful package.

“Up until recently, we’ve played it safe with neutral colours like Classic Black, Steel Grey and Rustic Brown,” says Ian Heaps of Blundstone Footwear. “The new two-tone boots are perfect for those who want the same great quality, durability and functionality of the classic Blundstone boot, but with a little extra edge and a pop of colour.”



Blundstone Canada CEO Mr. Ian Heaps
Blundstone Canada CEO Mr. Ian Heaps


Blundstones are widely recognized for their practicality and adaptability as footwear, but they are also an extremely versatile fashion accessory. All styles are unisex, and the sleek look of the boots make them compatible with anything from jeans or shorts, to slacks and even skirts. The two-tones styles are available in women’s 6 to men’s 14 sizes.


#1319 Rustic Brown with two tone sole from Blundstone Boots Fall line.
#1319 Rustic Brown with two tone sole from Blundstone Boots Fall line.













....and the devilishly stylish #1316 Red and Black with two tone sole.
….and the devilishly stylish #1316 Red and Black with two tone sole.


About Blundstone


Blundstones have been available in Canada since 1993 at Australian Boot Company and other retailers, and now sold at over 600 locations across Canada.  Tin Shack is the exclusive Canadian distributor of Blundstone, located in Collingwood, Ontario.  Founded in Vancouver in 1998, Tin Shack distributes footwear made by Blundstone, Pty, of Tasmania, Australia.  Founded in 1870, Blundstone is Australia’s leading manufacturer of quality footwear and remains a family-owned company to this day.  Blundstones have been toughing it out for no-nonsense, go-anywhere, do-anything types seeking comfort, durability and rugged style.  Boasting pull-on comfort, Blundstones are all-weather, lightweight, durable and no-gimmick footwear.  For more information, visit