The Great Potential of the Pickering Lands

So, May’s blog theme, as you may recall, is “getting dirty”. This week’s post was contributed by guest blogger Sandra Campbell (sradcliffcampbell@gmail.com), and is literally about the public right for access to farm “dirt” in Toronto’s backyard: the Pickering Lands.

“On May 6th, Green Neighbours  21 was pleased to host an evening to consider the potential of The Pickering Lands for safe food production and what we each of us can do as citizens to ensure their good management.

We can’t make more farmland. These lands, the largest track of Class 1 farmland from Scarborough to the Maritimes lies on Toronto’s doorstep. In 1972 Canada’s federal government expropriated 18,600 acres of this land for an airport that never got built. It is currently being leased out for industrial farming, but a growing number of concerned citizens are now organizing to ensure a different future for these precious lands. They could become a zone for small-scale, sustainable farms on the doorstep of Toronto.

Bill Lishman, born and raised in Pickering, shared stories of his history on these lands and showed an extended cut of his stunning video about its history and options.

As some of the lands fall within the boundaries of the new Rouge National Urban Park, Dave Cohlmeyer and Geraldine Dempsey presented the lands’ potential options for agricultural production including the innovative agricultural activities now going on in the Cuyahoga National Park next to Cleveland.

Finally, Donna Tranquada a veteran of the recent fight against the Mega Quarry in Melancthon Township presented information about it and its transformation into a new Ontario-wide organization, Food and Water First a coalition of concerned citizens working to change municipal, provincial and federal policies to ensure that food and water are protected for future generations. She urged us to go begin the process by planting FoodandWaterFirst signs and stickers to show our support for appropriate changes to our local plans and laws.

These speakers make it clear that safe, sustainable food and water are possible, both now and in the future—but only IF we don’t take them for granted. Each of us must inform ourselves, then speak up in our homes and communities so that together we can enlist the support of our elected civic, provincial and federal elected representatives.

Go to these websites, read up, then speak up. Our elected representatives need to hear from us.

For more information about groups advocating about The Pickering Lands, go to www.greendurham.ca and www.landoverlandings.com.”

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