great day – Earth Day 2017 !

thegreenrock-ers Amanda Russell and Perla Hernandez thegreenrock.ca's booth on Earth Day

thegreenrock-ers Amanda Russell and Perla Hernandez at the Earth Day Fair

Saturday afternoon rain didn’t stop crowds of boisterous families from making it to the Earth Day Fair at the Suncor Fluvarium on April 22!  Over 250 people attended the event! Just about all of them stopped at thegreenrock.ca’s booth to learn about ways to take action, take care of the planet, and how to live sustainably.

Each year, 1 billion people in more than 195 countries celebrate  Earth Day worldwide. The key purpose is to get people together, to celebrate mother nature, and think about ways in which they can take action.

In line with this message, thegreenrock.ca was very pleased and excited to share our signature projects for this year:

  • #playoutdoors ~ Less screen time and more time outdoors! In collaboration with the Junior Forest Wardens-NL, #playoutdoors raises awareness about nature deficit disorder and challenges families to get outdoors, make new friends and learn new skills.
  • ReGeneration: The Plastic Bag Project (coming up!) ~ An intergenerational awareness and action program that brings seniors and students together to share strengths, and transfer skills toward a common purpose of recycling single-use plastic bags through crafting durable tote bags. This project is supported by The Co-operators IMPACT! Fund 2017.
  • Guide to the Good ~ A social enterprise that makes it easier for people to choose local for their purchasing and lifestyle choices. Local businesses bring economic, ethical and social benefits to our lives and our communities. Guide to the Good is currently being piloted in the Northeast Avalon, but the goal is for there to be a guide to the good in communities everywhere!

Visitors were asked to participate in the “how do you fit in?” campaign and to think about ways in which they can help protect the environment through their daily actions.

At the end of the day we had some local giveaways from businesses featured on the Guide to the Good. The draw was live-streamed via Facebook

Facebook Live of the guide to the good draw

  • Prize #1 Local Basket!
    Jumping Bean‘s low CO2 emission roasting coffee; hypoallergenic, artisan soaps and body products made locally from St. John’s Soap Works; and local hand-knitted hat by Casey’s Crafts.
  • Prize #2 Firewood and Coffee! 
    Bundles of local sustainable and licensed firewood from Firewood Factory; 2 gift-cards from  Jumping Bean .

Two winners were randomly selected out of 104 individual tickets. Congrats Olivia and Joan!

 

 

cropped-thegreenrock-1.pngthegreenrock.ca is a not-for–profit company that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like us and share!

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west coast canola – playing with the grain

this is a happy cross-post with http://www.guidetothegood.ca because this story is cool for both audiences!  if you’re a follower of both firstly thank you!, and secondly please forgive the duplication.

Dr. Vanessa Kavanagh’s twitter handle is @NLGrainDr, and that is just a hint of how she feels about growing grain.  She shares pictures of tiny vials of Newfoundland canola oil like parents share pictures of their infant – with love and joy and hope.  She cares because she sees grain generally and growth specifically as opportunities to create and innovate in ways that will make this place a more sustainable, food secure, and healthier province.

Born to Corner Brook, this Doctor of Philosophy in agriculture is the Research Scientist for the provincial government.  She was beyond thrilled with the opportunity to apply her academic research – she earned her PhD in Plant Science at the University of Alberta – to the first canola field planted in the province, in Pasadena.  The project brought together a community of farmers, researchers, and visionaries, and all are reaping the benefits.

Cooks, bakers and salad-makers know canola oil as the Canadian cousin of rapeseed oil, lesser known is that canola is of the Brassicaceae plant family where cabbage and turnip reside.  “We knows all about cabbage and turnip,” says my mother, and if you can project the return on the pilot year, it’s no great leap to reap canola.

me in canola fieldThe first fields were seeded on Hammond Farms in May of 2016, and it was the beginning of a glorious growing season.  A few weeks later, canola plants, pollinated by the local bee population (40 hives of some of the healthiest bees in the world), yielded acres of yellow canola fields.  The height shown in the photo is just when they were getting going!  (It would have been lovely to see how Gerry Squires would have interpreted those fields – but the visual wasn’t the point in this case, it was just a good step on the journey).  Harvested produce has three forms – livestock feed, edible oil, or bio-fuel.

The livestock feed is more important to food security than might first appear:  when counting the on-island food resources we count the chickens and pigs and cows, but if their feed comes from away, which it often does, then that resource is not food secure.   The livestock food source goes hand-in-glove with the edible oil, as the livestock food pellets are the little black seeds minus oil. Canola plants share properties of all crops in that their taste is influenced by the characteristics of the soil and the weather.  So opportunities for artisan cold-pressed canola oil adds another level of local to the wave of foodie excellence that’s making sustainable not only sensible, but fashionable and healthy.

And it’s going well!  Vanessa says, “We have indeed had some great success with the canola pressing and it is almost complete!  The oil is a clear golden honey colour with a really nice flavour.”

Bio-fuel means that the harvested oil can be poured into the engine of the diesel tractor.  At the pilot scale this is not an economically wise use, it does clearly illustrate the possibilities.

Another inspiring feature of the project is that there is zero waste.  Vanessa says, “The other material outcome after processing the plant is straw, and most of that was cut up and used as bedding for cows.  The straw that wasn’t bedding is disked into the soil to add organic matter.  Nothing is wasted.”

For the canola project in 2017 Vanessa et al have 20-40 acres secured in Cormack, and she says, “Our farmers there are really looking forward to their fields of gold!   I can’t at all say that we’ve perfected the system after only one season, but we know a tremendous amount more than before and I think this year is going to be better than last.”

Dr. Vanessa Kavanagh is part of the grain research team that is looking at new ways to scale sustainable. The canola project is one of several components of the research-based cereal grain and oilseeds program, which is leading innovation in the feed and food industries.

 

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thegreenrock.ca is a not-for–profit company that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like us and share!

Facebook: Facebook.com/thegreenrockca
twitter: @thegreenrockca

#playoutdoors – less screen time, more outdoor time

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spending time in nature has positive physical and mental health benefits for both adults and children

in the fall of 2016, thegreenrock.ca in collaboration with the  Junior Forest Wardens NL launched a  #playoutdoors awareness campaign to get people outdoors and start new Junior Forest Warden NL Clubs.  Junior Forest Wardens, a family-based outdoor adventure group, has been active in NL since the 1940s.  numerous families have reaped the benefits of outdoor together time over the years, but numbers have been declining since the 1980s.

nature deficit disorder: kids are spending less time outdoors

kids these days are spending more time on screens than outdoors and that’s causing problems to their health. there’s extensive research about Nature Deficit Disorder. conversely, spending time in nature for adults, and especially for children brings the mental and physical health benefits. children experience positive social, psychological, and spiritual impacts on their personal and cognitive development.

 

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JFW helps families and friends find time to hang out in the woods

as a side effect of modern, busy and sedentary lifestyles in recent years our exposure to nature has diminished. within a generation, Canada has transitioned from a rural to an urban nation, with 80% of Canadians now living in cities. as a result of this transition, it is estimated that Canadians today spend on average 90% of their time indoors, which has lead to a variety of chronic health issues as a result of sedentary lifestyles

aside from the mental and physical health benefits, getting kids in nature can also have positive impacts on our environment and our communities. a study by the University of British Columbia, suggests that providing positive childhood experiences in nature, can help to develop care and awareness of the environment as adults.

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children who play outside are more likely to protect nature as adults

#playoutdoors campaign

the Junior Forest Wardens NL is dedicated to bringing families with school-aged children together to enjoy and learn about the natural environment. together thegreenrock.ca and JFW launched a successful campaign that delivered 10 community outreach events, reached out to 17 community organizations which engaged over 50 families in the St. John’s metro area and led to the start of two new JFW Clubs:  the Wild Wanderers and the Rollin’ Capelin.

up next
after all the success of the #playoutdoors thegreenrock.ca is working with JFW and other community partners to look into ways to expand the project this year. stay tuned!

update! #playoutdoors won a 2017 Pinnacle Award by the International Association of Business Communicators Newfoundland and Labrador! read all about it here

 

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thegreenrock.ca is a not-for–profit company that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like us and share!

Facebook: Facebook.com/thegreenrockca
twitter: @thegreenrockca

In Other Words – why it is important to plant trees

Basil English,

Basil English, Silviculture supervisor of Newfoundland’s Forestry and Agrifoods Agency

People often say that planting trees is a good deed for the environment, but when you try to add it up, you realize the value of a living tree is incalculable to our planet and the species on it.  So to get to the root of the matter, we interviewed the Tree Guy aka Basil English, Silviculture supervisor of Newfoundland’s Forestry and Agrifoods Agency.

Is planting trees good for the environment?

Yes with out a doubt! 

Does it help address climate change?

So there are a few ways in which planting trees help address climate change: some of the direct-effective benefits of plantings trees are that they absorb carbon and release oxygen.  We breathe what they create.

Trees also help mitigate climate change by keeping urban temperatures cooler areas in the summer by providing shade to buildings and homes during summer. This reduces the need for the use of air conditioners (though not so much here in Newfoundland!). In winter trees block wind and reduce wind speeds keeping houses and buildings warmer, which also helps reduce energy usage

Does planting trees here in Newfoundland make a difference in other parts of the world?

Climate cycles have no borders, but it’s difficult to see direct impacts. BUT any measure taken in any single country will have benefits everywhere. By planting trees, we increase the carbon we sequester and we reduce energy consumption.

Does planting a tree in your own backyard make a difference?

Large-scale tree planting projects have larger impacts on the environment, but individuals planting trees can have a bunch of benefits by helping people act in a way that is very real, physical and connects people with their environment. Too often people feel helpless when it comes to global environmental challenges. This is a way people can look at the tree growing as something tangible. 

In urban settings, trees provide habitat for birds and larger animals, and improve aesthetics (and property values). They also make people feel good – there are many studies showing that people’s mental health can be improved by nature, which helps them feel more content and with a better sense of wellbeing.

Depending on where you live, trees can also help reduce noise pollution from cars, buses, and industry.  

What are some of the environmental benefits of planting trees?

On the larger scale, trees and forests are part of the earth’s ecosystem. Trees help improve water quality by filtering water pollutants. In addition, they slow down the movement of water which reduces the risk of flooding. Trees also can sequester pollutants from the air, water and soil.  

When is the best time to plant trees in Newfoundland and Labrador?

It depends on your ability to take care of the tree. Through our Department’s reforestation program we plant trees on an industrial scale – millions of trees – and those trees are usually on their own so we usually plant from spring through summer so that the trees have time to acclimatize for the winter. It is really about being careful and making sure the roots are handled carefully and the tree is well watered. So if you are planting in your backyard you can probably plant from May (or when it begins to thaw) to September/October. 

So there you have it! Planting trees is a good deed for the environment, and for yourself, and it doesn’t matter if you plant 1, 2, 3 or even 100 trees – it’s all good! So grab a shovel and get your hands dirty!

thegreenrock.ca is proud to partner with Junior Forest Wardens NL for the Annual Tree Sale.   In Other Words is a project of thegreenrock.ca – Guide to the Good. You know when people start talking about the importance of taking care of the environment, and you’re interested, but it’s hard to pay attention when they talk about the microns, the quarks and parts per million? In Other Words makes scientific information understandable and practical.   If you like it, share it!

cropped-thegreenrock-1.pngthegreenrock.ca is a not-for–profit company that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!

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environment Week – think planet. act local.

the United Nations established world environment day – WED – as the ‘people’s day’ for doing something to take care of the Earth – and it’s happening!   WED kicked off Environment Week, and  it’s the right time to  look around and see how people are thinking of the planet while living local.

  • there is crowd down at Vanier School planning and planting a community garden in the cold days of June VanierGarden
  • Clean St. John’s has brought earth-carers into classrooms throughout the City to make more earth-carersGrockMQP
  • caring local entrepreneurs are making protecting the environment their business!  check out Island Compost2016-05-19 09.03.25
  • morning runners are bringing bags and taking a day to pick up trash on their route (half a bag on a short run!)run bag
  • families and friends are taking to the trails for some good outdoor timemaraudscape

the government of Canada has come up with focus areas for every day this week – check it!  NL Power is marking the week through EnviroFEST activites in various regions of the province.  how’s it going to work for you?

cropped-thegreenrock-1.pngthegreenrock.ca is a not-for–profit company that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!

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‘marketing local’ ~ support for local businesses wanted!

marketing local screen-shotOn the heels of the ‘buying local’ survey for consumers, thegreenrock.ca conducted ‘marketing local’, a survey for local business.

The consumer survey showed that consumers wanted to buy local, and would buy local more if they knew what was available and how to access it.

With that in mind, we asked business how ‘local’ fits in with marketing strategy.

We know that the Northeast Avalon is a busy hive of local businesses

  • there are hundreds and hundreds of local cottage businesses and kitchen-table operations that show up at markets and fairs
  • there hundreds of local retail shops downtown and in strip malls and standing alone
  • and there are dozens of local manufacturing operations (with or without storefronts).

And through the survey we learned that there is a huge appetite in the local business world to come together and be promoted.  Business owner/respondents comments were encouraging:

  • “I believe, given our economy, a network of local businesses, supporting local businesses is timely. And with the right message, we should all buy in to supporting local now more than ever.”
  • “Someone needs to take the lead.”
  • “Thank you for this. Buying local and promoting this is so important. “

The comments, along with the survey responses are helping us build the Guide to the Good.  the full survey results are here ( right click may be necessary to open)  https://docs.google.com/a/mun.ca/forms/d/1MMNFpTBQF1ICFJmlXWQhGMwTLDFuHLW1yaSeq8AfPgY/viewanalytics.

Here are some highlights of what we learned:  

We learned that ‘local’ is a significant factor for local businesses

  • 57.6% of business respondents said they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that customers buy their products in order to support local businesses
  • 69.9% of local business owners have the impression that their customers believe that buying local help strengthen the local economy.

When it comes to marketing,  unpaid facebook and word of mouth are the most commonly used forms of advertising. but there is a big difference between the percentage who use it and the percentage who say it’s the most successful platform for them.

  • 84.9 % of local businesses rely on Facebook (unpaid) for promotion, but only 23.6% say that it’s their most their most successful platform.     
  • 78.1 % use word of mouth to advertise their products, and 26.4% say it is their most successful platform.

The take-away message for us is that local companies are under marketed, and that there is a demand for an affordable platform.  survey response confirmed this idea.

  • 93.1 % of respondents said that are interested in participating in a well rounded, engaging platform that promotes only local businesses.

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This all  good  and inspiring news!  thanks to all those who participated, and we’re working hard to get the Guide to the Good on your screen!

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think planet. live local ~ how do you fit in?

the challenges of the great big world can get a little smaller when we all work together to take action!  for Earth Day 2016 thegreenrock.ca, with support from Memorial University’s Office of Public Engagement and the Department of Forestry and Agrifoods, asked human beings how their actions fit in with their larger planetary system at the Suncor Fluvarium Earth Day Fair in St. John’s.

good news: people are taking action!  so many things – from recycling to composting to saying no to plastic bags, buying less and riding more, and generally keeping the planet in mind.  every little bit makes a difference, but to put all these great actions in the great big context, we asked Dr. Sean McGrath, Head of the Department of Philosophy at Memorial University and core member of the For A New Earth group, to offer his perspective.

there is hope!  we are all part of the solution by taking action together!

 

 

 

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