great day – Earth Day 2017 !

thegreenrock-ers Amanda Russell and Perla Hernandez'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’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, 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! 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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#playoutdoors – less screen time, more outdoor time


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

in the fall of 2016, 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.



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.

2013-09-28 11.22.43

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 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 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


cropped-thegreenrock-1.png 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!

twitter: @thegreenrockca

reasons to like the weather – July 2015, NL

wpid-20140104_160321.jpg1. no mosquitos

2. people stay close – seeking body heat

3. no shoveling

4. it’s not too hot.

5. if you’re not pleased with the location of your plants, you can transplant them no problem

6.  the air is not choked with smoke from forest fires

7.  people aren’t complaining about the heat

8.  sunburn is not a problem

9.  hair curls

10.  cool weather vacations are trendy

11.  there are good jokes

12.  the weather is good for running the Tele 10

13.  it’s good for allergies

14.  it’s good for fishing

15.  the grass is nice and green

cropped-thegreenrock-1.png is a non-profit 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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how sweet it is – first time tapping

2015-04-25 12.16.14o how sweet is spring!  the days have softened and our first tapping season is over.

first big thought is man, those trees are humbling.  tapping connects the person to the tree as well as the tree to a bucket.  trees are big, and strong and beautiful.  they are alive.  they provide shade and cover.  they produce carbon dioxide we breathe.

that thought is as simple as day follows night, and it is astonishing. more astonishing that wi-fi.  and the sap is ambrosia.

the idea to tap was generated in 2014 at the Friends of Pippy Park tapping demo, and galvanized at the Maple Tapping workshop with Lisa and Steve McBride in February. detailed how-to here.

owen the teenaged boy was chief tapping guy, and we started around the third week in March.  we looked at bark and branches, found out which way was south, and felt the life in the tree as we touched it. so much life that drilling the hole felt uncomfortable.   respectfully, we tapped four trees, a silver maple (imported by a neighbour 40 odd years ago from Moncton, NB), one on our street, one in the garden, and one on LeMarchant Road.  owen was collector for the nearby trees.   Nina and Jerome tended the tree on LeMarchant.

the first boil up took a day indoors on the stove and yielded about a cup of syrup.  (square bottle, top left).  filtering was a challenge as I was using a coffee filter, but the filter took too much.  i double sieved it, thus (I think) the cloudiness.

the second boil took two days indoors on the stove, and yielded almost a liter of syrup (second bottle from left).  it was strained through a double sheet of cheesecloth and a sieve.  during this boil i became concerned about the steam.  even with the fan on and the windows open, the house felt like a big damp sponge.  add in thoughts about poor use of water, time and energy in transforming 20 liters of water to steam and the project needed a re-jig.   a conversation with Maggie Kieley about her success in freezing sap encouraged  me to try another idea.

the third boil (third from left) was done on a propane tank outdoors and filtered through cheesecloth and a sieve.  it was a huge batch… maybe 25 liters, and it yielded more than a liter of the darkest sap.  it took a full tank of propane, and it took three days. it was a step toward the freeze method.  at that time it was still freezing on many days (as well as nights), so we didn’t boil what was frozen. it improved efficiency/reduced boiling time, but it felt wrong to throw out the sap.

the fourth boil (far right) was done on a propane tank outdoors. it took a couple of hours, sieved through a t-shirt-like cotton, and yielded the lightest colour syrup   it was a bit of eureka boil.  after collecting the sap we froze it, and boiled the first half (or so) of what melted.  (we used a weird drip method whereby the frozen container was put upside down in a very large spouted bowl.  there is something about the way sugar freezes that may yield higher concentrations if poured this way.).  when the rest of sap melted, we saved it for drinking.  lovely with a whisper of sweet at the end.  it’s probably very good for the body.
11149657_10155500401170710_5527849448356942213_oon the day it got warm we removed the taps. sooner than necessary as it turned out.  the trees looked bare, and with nothing to catch the sap, you could easily imagine that the tree was crying so we stopped the leaking with a dowel. bad idea it turns out.  new information from experienced tappers says that’s not the way to go:  best to let the sap flow as long as it flows.   keep collecting the sap as long as it’s clear, but if it’s cloudy, the fermentation process is starting to happen.  the literature says that the tree will heal by the end of the summer (photo at right is a healed tree).  place next year’s tap several inches away.

between now and then we will share and revere the syrup.  people often say something doesn’t taste as good if you cook it yourself, but this doesn’t hold true for maple syrup. all the shades are gorgeous to see and taste.   it’s explosive and gentle at the same time, silky and sticky, powerful and soft, a mix of two opposites.   kind of like the tree.

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NLEE – getting the kids outside

Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Educators (NLEE)Common sense tells us that the natural environment is good for kids.  More and more research is showing that kids not being outdoors is bad.

With that in mind, the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Educators (NLEE) is striving to help educators (teachers, youth group leaders, parents…) get the kids keyed up on the great outdoors, and all the good things that go with it. joinedNLEE Conference 2014 - in the field representatives from the Brother Brennan Environmental Centre, Botanical Gardens, Salmonier Nature Park, Food Security Network, Junior Forest Wardens NL, parents and others in Traytown for the Annual Conference in April.  ‘Educational Edibles’ brought together a  diverse group who talked, listened, hiked, set fire to milk cartons, learned much about school and community gardens, practiced making a raised bed garden plot and more, all toward sharing great outdoor activities with educators.

NLEE is responding to a need.  Parents in this province join the discussion about how much screen time is too much, debate and sometimes despair about what kids eat, and share stories about acceptance.  Through the year NLEE holds activities and events that share information and make it easy (or easier) for educators to integrate smart, sound, sustainable practices into our children’s lives.

Lots to talk about.   Lots to do.  Join NLEE and get in on the conversation.

In the meantime, check out these 10 tips to grow outdoor-loving kids.. is a non-profit 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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Tree Tapping at Pippy Park – April 6


maple trees are behind it all in St. John's

maple trees are behind it all in St. John’s

Here is home to maple trees.  Many maple trees.  So many maple trees that some people, sometimes, call them weeds.  They create canopies over gardens, in parks, and  between sidewalks and roads.  They are plentiful.

In a kind of parallel format, here is home to breakfasts, brunches, and sometimes even suppers where maple syrup pours over pancakes, waffles, toutons, french toast and other delights.   Most times, almost ALL the time, there is no direct relationship between the maple tree in the garden and the maple syrup on the table.

Can these worlds collide?   Yes!

Lisa and Steve McBride – the couple who walk the goats in coats – tap.  Root Cellars Rock shared their experience a few years back.  And now, thanks to the Friends of Pippy Park,  the rest of us can learn to tap too!

Friends of Pippy Park are running a free family workshop this Sunday April 6th 2014 from 1 to 3.  Meet at Pippy Park Headquarters, Mount Scio Road.

This is the skivvy on what you will learn:
• To identify tap-able trees in Pippy Park;
• When a tree is ready to tap;
• What materials you will need;
• How to tap a tree sustainably. (If you tap please cap!); and
• How to turn sap to syrup.

Bring your own mug for hot chocolate.   No charge for the workshop, but an annual family membership of $20 to Friends of Pippy Park will support initiatives like this!

get out – single digit below zero!


It’s Friday, and -3 in St. John’s!  On the heels of the minus double digits, today’s blue-clear sky, squeaky white snow, and balmy temp are a perfect inspiring breath of warm air.  Skiing and snowshowing are great, but a simple skote down the street (no sign of pavement on this one), or a walk through Quidi Vidi will put the world in a bright perspective.    And it smells so good on your clothes and on your skin and on the kids!


But it won’t last!  

Coming soon – the snowdrops and crocuses and hope of summer, but they haul along the loooooog season of damp cold, and receding snow. 

Go NOW!   Fortify yourself.

Play Again – NLEE film screening

They don’t mean minecraft!   Join NLEE and other local people who want the kids to get outdoors at Cowan Heights Elementary on Wednesday for the Play Again film screening.

lucy and the sky.  one diamond.

lucy and the sky. one diamond.

The Play Again film synopsis website says “Through the voices of children and leading experts including journalist Richard Louv, sociologist Juliet Schor, environmental writer Bill McKibben, educators Diane Levin and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, neuroscientist Gary Small, parks advocate Charles Jordan, and geneticist David Suzuki, PLAY AGAIN investigates the consequences of a childhood removed from nature and encourages action for a sustainable future.”