World Energy Day Event Raises Bar for Agricultural Economic Development in Augusta

World Energy Day Event Raises Bar for Agricultural Economic Development in Augusta

Augusta Matters by Mayor Doug Malanka

(As published in the South Grenville Journal – Thursday, October 29, 2020)

In last week’s column, I invited residents to stay tuned for some exciting announcements to support economic development and sustainability in our agricultural sector.

As billed, our “2020 Fall Harvest Event” took place on World Energy Day last Thursday, October 22nd, and was attended by approximately 30 people, all wearing masks and respecting social distancing. This included fewer than 25 sitting inside a spacious agricultural warehouse, with the remainder standing outside two large bay doors and a third exterior door. The event was such a success on many levels.

Special guests and speakers included Randy Hopkins from MP Michael Barrett’s office, Shelly Candel from Bee City Canada, Katherine Forster and Tracey Etwell from the Canadian Wildlife Federation, John Mesman from South Nation Conservation, and Adrian Wynands from the Grenville Federation of Agriculture.

Our thanks to Ron Grootjans and Cathy Worth from the Bee Too Honey Farm for donating the honey gift packs presented to speakers, and to Amy Fogo and Ryan Brophy of V6 Agronomy for offering their property for the event.

Staff presentations were made by Nicole Walker, on the near-tripling in size of Augusta’s new Farmers Market over the course of the summer; by Public Works Manager Brad Thake, who  reviewed the results of our Sustainable Mowing Initiative; and by Myron Belej, who emceed the event and outlined several new economic development actions, as follows:

“PG-13” Pollinator Garden Initiative: South Nation Conservation announced plans to include a new pollinator garden at their forthcoming Conservation Area in Augusta. Supporters of conservation and environmental sustainability are sought for a dozen more pollinator gardens in Augusta to benefit both home gardens and larger agricultural crops.

“10×10 Bloom” Business Challenge: This campaign aims to support 10 new businesses, expanded businesses, or businesses added to our Augusta Business Directory to improve their connection to our community in each of the next 10 months.  Kicking off this campaign, V6 Agronomy announced their new greenhouse expansion, and Belej welcomed agricultural entrepreneurs Stuart and Nikki Oke of Rooted Oak Farm to Augusta.

New Regional Networks: Two Letters of Intent to advance agri-business and economic growth were presented at our World Energy Day event, each signed by about a dozen supporters.

The first aims to establish a regional beekeeping network for beekeepers operating within Augusta Township and its broader community, an initiative supported by the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association and multiple conservation authorities.

The second proposes a regional greenhouse, flower, and field growers’ network to bring together producers within Augusta Township and its broader community. Benefits of getting involved may include shared marketing opportunities, access to training, or cost savings from group purchasing.

Our new Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee will consult on these and other new initiatives. Augusta Township is proud of its more than 200-year history in pioneering agriculture.

Area residents may be interested in educational sessions being offered by Augusta entrepreneurs through St. Lawrence College in early November:

John and Elizabeth Espadero, owners of the Bayanihan Honeybee Company, will present a free online webinar on Beekeeping: A Sweet Hobby from 6:00PM – 7:00PM on Wednesday, November 4th.

The following week, Brenda Visser, owner of Flowers of the Field, will discuss healthy ecosystems for pollinators in a free online webinar about Bee Happy Gardens from 7:00PM – 8:00PM on Monday, November 9th.

For flower fans, Brenda Visser is also delivering a continuing education course virtually (registration fee: $75.00) called Tulip Bonanza from 6:30PM – 8:30PM on Thursday, November 5th. The deadline to register is November 1st.

Council thanks Belej and other members of our Augusta staff for their outstanding efforts toward sustainability and agricultural economic development. For further details on any of these Township initiatives, don’t hesitate to contact Myron Belej at the Augusta Township Office, at 613-925-4231 ext. 101, or mbelej@augusta.ca .