SOUTH STORMONT, Ontario – Over 100 people attended the property of Bill and Karen Carriere of Transition Cornwall+ Food Action Group on Sunday, Oct.14 in honour of World Food Day on Oct. 16.
“We opened up our property because we produce a considerable amount of fruits and vegetables and have a variety of gardens,” said Bill. “It’s to recognize the importance of food in the world and the reality that some of us do have food but some of us don’t.”
The free day included activities for the whole family, involving sustainable food production on a local and global level. Children could make clay masks and bird feeders while adults could enjoy a number of demonstrations, such as cider pressing, hands-on harvesting, food preservation methods and more. Guided and self-guided tours of the property were also available, in which participants could identify different nut trees, berries in the orchard and trees in the woodland area.
“One of the messages that we try to convey to people is that, we live in a rather immense property with many gardens and a greenhouse…but people don’t have to do it at that scale…you can have a much smaller space and grow a lot of stuff,” explained Bill. Bill had shown a number of attendees how he grew three apple trees in a 122 ft. space, proving that small patches can produce considerable crops.
Karen explained that they often have a surplus of crops as they produce food year-round with the help of their greenhouse, so they will often donate to local food banks.
The Carriere’s began planting what they consider more productive plants about a decade ago when they discontinued their perennial plant business of 20 years, Centre Commons Perennials.
The season and weather presently dictate how much time the Carriere’s will put into their gardens. Bill suggested that he might work for five hours in a day in the spring, an hour in a day during the summer and less time during the winter in the greenhouse.
“I have a very busy fall usually with keeping up with the harvest,” said Karen, who enjoys making different seasonal sauces and drying different fruits.
“It’s also our hobby. It’s fun to do. It’s creative as well,” said Bill.
“We are sort of plant or growing nerds,” added Karen.
Over their decade of research and experimenting, the couple has also discovered different sustainable cooking products like a Sun Oven and solar dehydrators. These products make the couple think of areas of the world that may be without power as they could be a viable for utilizing more natural cooking methods.
“We are trying to think about adding resiliencey to households and communities,” said Karen.
The Carriere’s are eternally thankful for the support they received from volunteers and attendees.
“A lot of planning went on. We are very grateful that people think this is important enough to put their time into,” said Karen.