By Luke Hendry, The Intelligencer
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 5:05:37 EDT PM
“It's just practical environmentalism,” he said.
“There's lots of stuff you can't do about the bigger picture.
“This is hands-on. This is what we can do right now in our own local environments to be stewards of it. And there's a lot we can do.”
The council, created through a provincial stewardship program, encourages residents to help care for their natural surroundings through a variety of programs. They include tree planting, helping with funding applications and education.
“We're a learning and awareness organization. We promote good stewardship every chance we can,” said volunteer and past co-ordinator Jim Pedersen.
“We're not affiliated with any political organization,” he added.
He and his wife, Karen, bought a derelict 100-acre farm here 10 years ago, naming it Porcupine Creek Farm.
They fixed up the buildings, installed solar panels and geothermal heating, and at one point had a certified organic farm. They're now raising chickens and growing some of their produce.
Through the Trees Ontario program promoted by the stewardship council, the couple planted 3,000 trees in old pastures behind their house. Caruana said the rocky property is proof ideal soil isn't needed for tree planting.
The province last year cancelled its funding for the council after 17 years.
“We're still very interested in working with all of the partners that we had before,” said Pedersen, who has remained employed with Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources. Those partners include municipalities and farming groups.
Caruana is on a one-year part-time contract. He said the group is still able to provide some programs.
Grants of around $3,000 could soon be offered for sustainability projects and those by schools, 4-H clubs and agricultural programs, he said. Details are still being finalized but a draft of the program is now on the council's website.
“We hope to have some bursaries for students going on to further education,” said Pedersen.
Caruana added his work will also include creating a newsletter and seeking more funding.
To learn more, visit the website at hastingsstewardship.ca or call Caruana at 613-391-9034.