Green Living Expo 2016 drew out the greenest of crowds

Billings Councillor and Green Living Expo organizer Barb Erskine and Mayor Aus Hunt opened the event by thanking the volunteers. photos by Michael Erskine

KAGAWONG—The Park Centre in Kagawong was bustling this past weekend as the annual Green Living Expo drew crowds from across the Island and beyond to sample the wares of green vendors and learn more about life in the green lane.

The editorial team behind Ed Burt’s gardening book assembled for a photo during the book launch at the Green Living Expo at the Kagawong Park Centre. In photo, back row, from left, are Paul Salanka,  Brenda Gold, Joyce young, Kate Thompson, Ed Burt, Dougal Bichan, front row, Heli Cotnam, Jenna Carter, Martha Burt, Stephanie Burt-Hilliard (holding Mr. Burt’s grandchild Gabriel) and Joseph Gold.
The editorial team behind Ed Burt’s gardening book assembled for a photo during the book launch at the Green Living Expo at the Kagawong Park Centre. In photo, back row, from left, are Paul Salanka,
Brenda Gold, Joyce young, Kate Thompson, Ed Burt, Dougal Bichan, front row, Heli Cotnam, Jenna Carter, Martha Burt, Stephanie Burt-Hilliard (holding Mr. Burt’s grandchild Gabriel) and Joseph Gold.

Organizer Barb Erskine was joined in the opening ceremonies by speakers Billings Mayor Austin Hunt and green activist gardener Ed Burt. Both Ms. Erskine and Mayor Hunt congratulated the volunteers of the Green Expo organizing committee and welcomed the vendors and participants.

Speaker, gardener, and now, officially, author, Ed Burt gave a self-admitted uncharacteristic short address. “I have never spoken for three minutes in my life,” chuckled Mr. Burt as he provided a seven-minute insight into the philosophy and spirituality that lay behind his new book on gardening launched at the Green Living Expo.

Dr. Roy Jeffery and Richard Lathwell chat all things green.
Dr. Roy Jeffery and Richard Lathwell chat all things green.

“Anybody who worked in the garden for as long as I have without learning a couple of things, well they must be pretty stupid,” said the octogenarian gardener, as he related his life-view of working with the life forces that dwell within the soil.

“Climate change is the biggest issue that exists,” said Mr. Burt, quoting from an article he had recently read, adding that it never ceases to amaze him how many thousands of miles our food must travel to reach our tables. “I never have to travel more than 200 hundred feet,” he laughed. Mr. Burt said “I hope my book will help,” adding, “I grew up in an environment where we had to store things.”

The upstairs hall of the Park Centre was filled with exhibitors and vendors, while in the downstairs hall a series of seminars provided insight into forestry practices, greenhouse and native species gardening and the award-winning restorative work being conducted by Manitoulin Streams.

Forester Lesley Phillips of the Algoma-Manitoulin Forestry Service was handing out small potted Norwegian pine trees to passerbys while explaining the multifaceted impact of invasive species. “To be considered ‘invasive’ a species must be both foreign to the ecosystem and cause some form of harm,” she said. “That harm can take an ecological/environmental form, economic or social.” While the first two harmful impacts are fairly intuitive, Ms. Phillips noted that a social harm takes place when people are forced to avoid an area or lifestyle due to the plants.

Brad Mackay of Wind and Wave selling Sea Cadet raffle tickets.
Brad Mackay of Wind and Wave selling Sea Cadet raffle tickets.

A good example of a social harm would be signs warning you not to stray from a forest path due to the presence of invasive species such as the giant hogweed.

Meanwhile, Wind and Wave and Manitoulin Cedar Products proprietor Brad MacKay was taking the opportunity to not only plug his green products, but also do a little community fundraising, selling raffle tickets in support of the Manitoulin Sea Cadets. Those tickets are also available at his new store location on Highway 542 and at ProGas in Mindemoya, as well as The Expositor offices in Little Current.

Meanwhile, the Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates booth were not only touting the joys of cycling the Island’s many cycling routes (part of the Georgian Bay Cycling Route), but encouraging people to sign a petition calling for paved shoulders on local highways.

From heritage seeds to handpainted postcards, the Green Living Expo had something for just about everyone.

Maja Meilonen and Loonsong Garden’s Heather Thoma share a good laugh at the Green Living Expo. photos by Michael Erskine
Maja Meilonen and Loonsong Garden’s Heather Thoma share a good laugh at the Green Living Expo.
photos by Michael Erskine
Forester Lesley Phillips of the Algoma Manitoulin Forestry Service talks invasives.
Forester Lesley Phillips of the Algoma Manitoulin Forestry Service talks invasives.
Organizer Barb Erskine  presents speaker Jenny Fortier with a more than token gift.
Organizer Barb Erskine
presents speaker Jenny Fortier with a more than token gift.