October 2022 Newsletter

View our October newsletter on Mailchimp

 

Let’s protect what we value most NOW! Giving Tuesday

Let’s protect what we value most NOW!

Giving Tuesday

Looking for a unique gift to offer someone for Christmas? Why not give a donation to their favorite cause and make a positive impact on the environment.

       

By giving to the Massawippi Conservation Trust you help us to:

  • continue in our mission to steward and protect environmentally sensitive land in the Massawippi valley;

  • build trails to provide free community access to nature for health and wellness;

  • fund our education program (NEW IN 2022!) for local primary school students.

We protect what we love and we love what we know.

BAT CONSERVATION OF THE EASTERN TOWNSHIPS

Bats are one of the world’s most misunderstood species, yet they exist on every human-inhabited continent. There are so many myths tainting the image of these unique mammals. History has made them out to be scary creatures when in fact bats are important human allies, vital in the fight against pesky insects. In truth, the scariest thing about bats is this: they’re being decimated in Canada by a disease called White-nose Syndrome.

As humans, we’ve learned all too quickly how diseases can spread through closely gathered populations exposed to infection. Bats are no different. White-nose Syndrome has reduced bat populations by almost 95 per cent in eastern Canada, leading to several species being designated as Endangered. This summer, White-nose Syndrome was found on bats in Saskatchewan. Critical social distancing is impossible for bat populations headed back to their winter hibernation sites. As colonies instinctively gather together, there is a greater risk of contracting White-nose Syndrome. Clearly, it’s a frightening time to be a Canadian bat!
Reproduced from the Canadian Wildlife Federation website.

THE MISSION OF BAT CONSERVATION OF THE EASTERN TOWNSHIPS IS TO TAKE CONCRETE ACTIONS TO PROTECT BATS IN THE EASTERN TOWNSHIPS. THIS PROGRAM BENEFITS FROM THE EXPERTISE OF BIOLOGISTS WITHIN THE APPALACHIAN CORRIDOR TEAM AS WELL AS RESSOURCES AND STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS THAT SUPPORTS ITS ACTIVITIES.
To find out more please click on the Appalachian Corridore website 

Mushroom Madness, our education program for adults and families.

Mushroom Madness, our education program for adults and families.

We kicked off the month with the Mushroom Madness event. This program was our first foray into educational activities for adults and families by the Massawippi Foundation.
We had 3 walks scheduled on the Sentier Massawippi trails in Scowen Park and Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley. Participants learned about mushrooms but also about nature in general and how to appreciate it through art. We would like to thank Jessica Adams and Rebecca Soulis (and her partner Jason Campbell) co-founders of Nature Nerding. They guided the particpants
around nature, art and wellness. Each event had more than 20 participants.

On October 6th we hosted Nicolas van Caloen from Mycotrophe.
His presentation was on the fungal world, cultivation and mycorremediation. His talk was about the different aspects of the life of a fungus, its cultivation and its roles in ecosystems as well as the ability of fungi to decontaminate the environment. 30 + people enjoyed the facsinating talk and lively presentation.
A vernissage and mushroom tasting event was held on October 7th.
Louise Marois is a local artist from St. Vennant de Paquette. Her exhibition offers two separate sections of graphite drawings on paper, one on mushrooms and a second on various plants. Ecological concern is at the center of this new corpus. The artist invites the visitor to wonder about what awaits us in the near future. This show will be open to the public at the pub La Cie Vilandré until mid December.
We would like to thank the owners of the pub La Cie Vilandré in North Hatley who graciously offered us their space, free of charge and added mushroom dishes to their menu. They are giving a portion of the sales of these dishes to the Massawippi Foundation educational fund.
We plan to host more programs in the future. Please watch for announcements on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

 

Our education program has officially begun!

What season are we currently in? When did it officially start? What if we didn’t have a calendar- what are the signs that fall is upon us? Are we the only living beings that notice these changes? What happens in nature when autumn arrives?

These are but a few of the questions we asked each group of students who set foot on the trails at Scowen Park in the context of the Massawippi Foundation’s Nature Education Program. Coordinated and animated with the help of Nature Nerding, the program’s objective is to connect young people of the region with their natural heritage by providing opportunities to explore, discover and appreciate nature through the seasons. The long term vision is to help cultivate a connection so strong, so innate, that young people develop a sense of belonging and personal concern for the natural world. As many may know, one of the Foundation’s favorite sayings has become:

“We protect what we love. We love what we know.”
 

Each program outing creates a space for young people to truly know the natural world in their own backyard. This does not necessarily mean retaining facts and repeating information learned, but rather embracing one’s curiosity, engaging with one’s surroundings, and gradually gaining a sense of familiarity with and awareness of nature with each experience.

From mid-September to mid-October,  we had the pleasure of welcoming nine school groups for a total of approximately 150 students! Students joined us from both French and English schools in the towns of North Hatley, Ayer’s Cliff, Waterville and Stanstead. Geared towards grades three and four, the program’s theme was “The Wonders of Fall”, featuring a scavenger hunt inviting students to use all their senses in observing and interacting with nature while asking questions about how each element or “wonder” was related to the fall season. In addition to stoking students’ curiosity for the natural world, the fall program aimed to introduce the students to Scowen Park and at the same time, have them consider what it means to have a safe and respectful outing in nature.

Highlights of this season’s program included seeing garter snakes sunning amongst the leaf litter, learning about little known, but cool phenomena such as thistle galls, beechdrops and fern sori and of course, noticing the wide variety of fascinating fungi growing in all kinds of interesting places along the trails! Magnifying glasses in hand and binoculars at the ready, students let their wonder and curiosity guide them. They saw neat things and learned some new terms, but most importantly of all, they asked great questions and shared their discoveries and enthusiasm with each other.

With the fall program having come to a close, we reflect on the season we just had and the year ahead while brimming with gratitude and excitement. We are grateful for every person participating in the program, whether as an educator or as a student. Each group has its own personality and energy, students bringing with them a new perspective on the park and the wonders to behold. No two outings were the same this season, nor will they be in winter and spring. This is a gift! We are also incredibly thankful for the Massawippi Foundation making this program possible. In the last year, the Foundation has very intentionally turned its attention to education as an integral part of its overarching conservation mandate. Not only did this involve recruiting someone to design and lead the program, but the program strives to offer schools a turnkey experience from providing a snack and drink at each outing to paying for each group’s bus transportation. This is all in an effort to encourage and facilitate school participation, helping connect as many young people as possible with nature.

Finally, we can hardly contain our excitement! As we consider the future of the Education Program, we see a world of possibilities. Having received feedback from several teachers, we are pleased to hear that students are already looking forward to the winter visit… as are we! The program is in its first inaugural year and if the fall season is any indication, we are in for an incredible year filled with wonder and delight!  Jessica Adams, Nature Nerding.


   

September 2022 Newsletter

View our September newsletter on Mailchimp

 

Salamander Sequence

Email from Félix Plante, University of Sherbrooke

“The inventory of creek salamanders was successfully completed last Thursday by the members of COGESAF and myself.
We were able to find and count all three species of creek salamanders, the purple salamander, the two-lined salamander and the northern dusky salamander.
As mentioned previously, since this is a long-term study, the complete and popularized results will be transmitted only after the 10 years of inventory planned for the project.
The inventories will therefore continue each year, and will be carried out by the COGESAF team.
I thank you again for your precious collaboration, it is much appreciated.”

A Forest and a ‘Food Forest’ What is the difference?

A Forest and a ‘Food Forest’
What is the difference?

A forest is a wild place where trees and plants grow. However it is also a place where you can find food. For example, many people think of mushrooms but there are many other types of food to be found in the forest if you know what you are looking for. This topic will be the focus of our future adult learning conferences that are in development.

Just ask Gérald Le Gal and his daughter Ariane Pare-Le Gal about foraging wild food1. An old friend of theirs, Patrick Garcia, is a new friend of ours. He too is a specialist in indigenous plants and picking.

Finding food in the natural environment has been the mainstay of our existence for hundreds and thousands of years. Just ask indigenous communities and they will tell you all about it.

A “ food forest” is a man-made environment planted in a manner to imitate nature and produce a variety of edibles. Forests have creeks and rivers flowing through them. Food forests are watered and controlled by people.. 

In many countries of the world, forest gardens or food forests are common. They are probably one of the oldest forms of land use by humans seen along river banks and in the foothills of monsoon villages.  From the Kandyan forest gardens of Sri Lanka to the Huertos familiars in Mexico and the Pekarangan in Java, Indonesia, they can be best described as low maintenance landscapes with dense vegetation that mimic natural forests in their various stories.  They use less water than regular gardens and have better soil quality with fewer weeds.

One of the early proponents of food forestry in the more temperate climate of the western world was Robert Hart2. He started in 1960, when he saw that his farm was not working as well as he wanted and noticed the natural forest where plants were growing better than on his farm. He developed his methods and his theories over time. They were later explored by Martin Crawford2 and the Agroforestry Research Trust. Forest gardens have become increasingly popular as part of the whole permaculture scene. They can be found throughout the temperate world.

Food Forest strategy lies in the concept of layers. There are either 7 or 8 layers depending on the gardener’s choice.

  1. Overstory consisting of large mature trees
  2. Understory consisting of smaller fruit and nut trees
  3. Shrub layer filled with fruit bushes such as currants
  4. Herbaceous layer made with perennial vegetables that spread horizontally
  5. Ground cover layer consisting of edible plants that spread horizontally
  6. Root layer with plants grown for their roots and tubers
  7. Vine layer which is essentially vertical consisting of vines and climbers such as beans
See the illustration by Graham Burnett who is another great source of information and inspiration on this topic4

A well-managed food forest will yield fruits, nuts, herbs and vegetables at close proximity helping to reduce CO2 emissions. Once established it requires very little artificial energy, no chemical fertilisers or pesticides and minimal labour. However Robert Hart does suggest daily supervision and to cut back plants that try to encroach on each other. Mulching is also a key element in the health of the soil and the organisms within. Like a natural forest, the trees in a forest garden helped to store CO2. As the trees grow and the soil remains undisturbed, the amount of carbon locked up inside the earth increases.

Thanks to Mother Nature we are learning to copy her model and produce food in better growing conditions.  These gardens can be adapted for any amount of space be it in the country, a backyard or an urban setting. They are a way to incorporate edible and useful trees and bushes. The concept can be adapted even to small spaces such as balconies!

1 Gerald Le Gal et Ariance Paré-Le Gal, Forêt, Les Éditions Cardinal inc., Montréal, 2019. This book contains wonderful stories, photographs and recipes for wild food. For a quick story about the man behind the company Gourmet Sauvage watch the podcast https://acpfnl.ca/podcast-012/
2 Robert Hart describes Food Forests in this video. His book: Forest Gardening: Rediscovering Nature and Community in a Post-Industrial Age
3 Martin Crawford has written books including: Creating a Forest Garden: Working with Nature to Grow Edible Crops. His book is also available in French FORÊT-JARDIN (LA) : CRÉER UNE FORÊT COMESTIBLE EN PERMACULTURE POUR RETROUVER AUTONOMIE ABONDANCE Watch him on this video
4 A website created by Graham Burnett offering tips and explanations as well as products for sale. https://spiralseed.co.uk/making-forest-garden/

August 2022 Newsletter

View our August newsletter on Mailchimp

 

July 2022 Newsletter

View our July newsletter on Mailchimp