Workshops - Learn and Grow

Join the Movement

Saturday April 18, 2020

9:30 am – 4 pm
845 Florence St, London, ON N5W 6G6
Western Fair District Agriplex

Check Out Last Year's Amazing Lineup of Speakers!

Speaker Spotlight Stage

Small Steps to Sustainability: Urban Ecological Gardening

Gabor Sass, Small Steps Studio

Speaker's Spotlight - 10:30am

Our health and well-being is underwritten by nature’s goods and services. From providing us oxygen, food, and building materials to regulating climate and nutrient cycles and enriching our culture and spirituality, nature has our backs covered. Urban open spaces, such as our backyards, public parks and right-of-ways offer a myriad of opportunities to create ecologically rich landscapes in both function and structure. Using examples from local individual and community projects, this workshop will shine light on different types of ecological gardens, including pollinator gardens, rain gardens and edible forest gardens. Grab a shovel and let’s turn London into an Ecological City!

Gabor is a recognized scientist, consultant, university instructor, writer and community builder who has lived in London with his wife for 19 years. He has worked as an environmental consultant for clients in industry, non-governmental organizations and different levels of government and as an advisor on environmental and planning advisory committees for the City of London. Gabor's community building includes leading initiatives like the Food Forests in Wood Street Park and West Lion's Park and the Pollinator Pathways Project, neighbourhood projects that have introduced residents to urban agricultural practices and current environmental concerns. Gabor and his family work at implementing sustainable practices into their lifestyle wherever they can.

From toxic algae to micro-plastics, Lake Erie Guardians are stepping up!

Raj Gill, Canadian Freshwater Alliance

Speaker's Spotlight - 11:30am

Harmful algae has become a persistent problem in Lake Erie over the last decade, threatening drinking water, making wildlife and pets ill, and reducing our recreational opportunities by closing beaches and making the waters unpleasant to be in or around. With much of the algae-causing pollution coming from upstream in the watershed, caring for rivers such as the Thames, will not only improve water quality locally, but also in Lake Erie. Learn how the Lake Erie Guardians are creating a fun and caring community to tackle these challenges, and becoming champions for our watershed. You’ll want to join them!

Raj Gill is the Canadian Freshwater Alliance’s Great Lakes Program Director. The Freshwater Alliance builds, connects and supports freshwater initiatives across Canada. We work with NGOs, community groups, governments and businesses to strengthen citizen voices and participation in protecting our lakes and rivers.

The Urban Beaver

Brandon Williamson, Upper Thames River Conservation Authority

Speaker's Spotlight - 12:30pm

Beavers are nature's ecosystem engineers, creating diverse habitat for many plant and animal species. However in urban areas beavers can be both beneficial and a nuisance. Beavers can dam up and block natural creeks and rivers, creating flooding and hazard tree concerns. Beavers also present a major challenge in stormwater management facilities by altering their capacity and ability to function as engineered. We have adopted techniques to maintain functionality of stormwater management facilities and prevent flooding along creeks, while maintaining beaver habitat.

Brandon is an Associate Forester and ISA Arborist. Brandon began his career with the UTRCA in 2001 as Forestry Technician. Since 2007 he has been working as a Land Management Technician, managing 11 Environmentally Significant Areas in the City of London.

Zero Waste 101: How to live plastic-free

Heenal Rajani, Reimagine Co.

Speaker's Spotlight - 1:30pm

Are you curious about Zero Waste and reducing your impact on our precious planet? Are you already trying to reduce waste - and finding many challenges along the way? Wherever you are on your zero waste journey, this workshop is for you!

Heenal Rajani is a co-founder of Reimagine Co, a zero waste community hub in downtown London, which includes the Naked zero waste store and free community workshops and events.

Connecting with Indigenous Culture through Paddling

Jay Bailey & Garth Pottruff, Grand River Rafting

Speaker Spotlight - 2:30pm

In this unique 2 part workshop learn about opportunities to connect with Indigenous culture. In Part 1 learn about the rise and fall of the extinct Attawandarons and their political power as peacekeepers among the Nations of Southern Ontario. In Part 2 learn about Tow Row on the Grand. Two Row on the Grand is the opportunity to paddle with the Haudenosaunee Nation. This is a 9-day trip from Cambridge to Lake Erie on the Grand River. The goal is to re-polish the chain of friendship, learn about the culture of the Haudenosaunee Nation and have fun together! It is the 4th year for this unique experience.

Jay Bailey : Having survived and thrived in over thirty years of teaching French, Jay Bailey has become an authentic voyageur, paddling over 4000 km on the fur trade routes of North America, mostly in birch bark canoes, bedroll on the ground at night, cold pea soup and bannock to eat, fires started with flint and steel. He has animated about 500 voyageur events from Windsor to Vankleek Hill, Elliott Lake to Sault Ste. Marie and Winnipeg, bringing to life Canadian heritage and la joie de vivre canadienne.

Garth Pottruff: grew up on a farm south of Paris, Ontario. He attended Lakehead University, graduating with a degree in Forestry. And went on to become a professional Forester with the MNR. In 2006, with his son Chad, they founded the Grand River Rafting Company creating a niche market using rafts as floating classrooms for outdoor education. Today they host over 40,000 people yearly.

Their hiking and floating classrooms, combined with Indigenous experiences draw over 6,000 students yearly. Studying about the Neutrals has always been an interest for Garth. This “Lost Nation” has a history that fascinates and sharing what he knows is his passion.

Connecting to Nature: Forest Bathing

Ben Porchuk, G.I.F.T

Speaker Spotlight - 3:30pm

Ben speaks about the practice and background of forest therapy. What really is it? Why do we need it? Do you really just go into the woods and hug a tree for 3 hours (not at all)? Where has it come from? Where is it going? Can you build a forest therapy or bathing garden at home? What does it mean to designate a trail for Forest therapy in Canada?

All of this and more will be answered in Ben's talk in addition to finding out where you can go to try a guide-lead forest therapy walk and how you can contribute to an exciting and rapidly expanding global movement. Excitedly, Forest bathing now has international headquarters right here in the Forest City, Ontario.

Ben has over two decades of experience in ecology, non-profit management, environmental consulting, and sustainable living. Before the recent era of rapid renewable energy expansion, he gained expertise on living off grid. Ben lived remotely off the grid for over a decade with solar panels, a large facial beard (not required but seemingly a part of the job) a wind turbine, composting toilets and a rainwater collection system.

Four years ago, Ben became the first certified Forest Therapy (a.k.a. Shinrin Yoku or Forest Bathing) guide in Canada. He recently co-founded, G.I.F.T. (Global Institute for Forest Therapy) a collaboration between Ireland and Canada.

Gardening Gateway Stage

Growing healthy, climate-smart landscapes on urban and rural properties with Landowner Leaders

Carolinian Canada Coalition

Gardening Gateway - 10:30am

*Coming Soon*

*Coming Soon*

Growing Native Edible Plants in a Permaculture System

Shantree Kacera, The Living Centre

Gardening Gateway - 11:30am

Imagine a landscape that requires no fertilizer, irrigation, pesticides, fossil fuels or tractor cultivation, and produces wonderful savoury food using only hand tools.

The Living Centre Educational Centre grew and harvested over 300 kg of highly nutritious tasty food and medicines in 2018 - all from wild and native plants! There are over 2,000 species of edible plants in Carolinian Canada and 97% of these plants are safe and many are delicious and full of nutrients! Think wild mints, roots ... even flowers!

In this workshop learn: why native edible plants are essential, about the Living Centre experience and goals for native edible plants, and the Top 5 plants to consider.

Shantree Kacera founded The Living Centre and Living Arts Institute in 1983. For four decades, The Living Centre has been an experiment and research site creating productive forest gardens growing a variety of fruits, berries, vegetables, nuts and herbs using a mix of permaculture, bio-intensive, four-season, and natural growing techniques -as well as techniques gleaned from native cultures around the world.

Indigenous land-sustainability practices: A method for thriving

Mkomose (Andrew Judge, PhD), Conestoga College

Gardening Gateway - 12:30pm

The Indigenous Foods Garden at Conestoga College and land sustainability program will include dedicated outdoor learning spaces on Conestoga College Campus'. These spaces can accommodate the delivery of Indigenous land-based academic programming. In this presentation you will learn how land-based programming is being developed and delivered in the region as a method for thriving.

Andrew is an Irish-Anishinaabe scholar, professor and coordinator of Indigenous studies at Conestoga College. Recently, he has begun an intricate and spiraling Indigenous food garden on conservation land in Cambridge.

Attracting Pollinators with Native Plants

Karin Davidson-Taylor, Pollination Guelph

Gardening Gateway - 1:30pm

*Coming Soon*

*Coming Soon*

Mix and Match: Native Plant Combinations for Beauty and Function

Lorraine Johnson, Author

Gardening Gateway - 2:30pm

Whether your garden is sunny, shady, or somewhere in-between, how can you design beautiful combinations of native plants to provide a succession of colourful blooms throughout the growing season? This talk will inspire you with garden possibilities!

Lorraine Johnson is the author of 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants for Canadian Gardens, along with a number of other books about gardening with native plants to create habitat.

Toronto Zoo Kids Zone

Toronto Zoo Native Bat Conservation Program

Toby Thorne, Toronto Zoo

Bats are a fascinating, yet often overlooked, part of our natural ecosystem. In this talk we will learn some surprising facts about bats, and dispel some of the myths and fears that surround them. We will also talk about the bats of Ontario, how they are at risk and what we can do to help them. Along with a picture packed presentation, there will be bat related children's crafts and games.

Toby caught his first bat at the age of 11 and has never looked back. He spent his teenage years chasing and learning about bats in the UK before moving to Ontario for a master's researching bats with renowned bat expert Dr. Brock Fenton. Since completing his master’s he has continued to work with bats in Ontario, most recently working on the Native Bat Conservation Program at the Toronto Zoo

Toad-ally Cool Wetlands

Katherine Wright, Toronto Zoo

‘Travel’ to a wetland and learn about all the ‘toad-ally’ awesome reptiles and amphibians that live right in our own backyards! Learn how to identify frogs based on their calls, turtles by their shell, and the one venomous snake in Ontario. Become a citizen scientist in Ontario TurtleTally and Frog Watch Ontario programs. Meet a real-life zookeeper and hear about all the awesome conservation projects going on at the Toronto Zoo, and even take a ‘shell-fie’ with our amazing replica turtle, frog, and snake sets!

Katherine is the Coordinator for the Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation Programme, which designs and delivers conservation-focused research, restoration, and outreach that targets wetland species and their habitats. Katherine has worked with a variety of wildlife including captive breeding and release for endangered ferrets and marmots, giant pandas, and studying humpback dolphins for her Master’s. She is excited to now be conserving wetlands and sharing that knowledge with the public.

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