GUELPH/ERAMOSA – Rural Urban Learning Association (RULA), an Eden Mills-based organization, has been selected by the David Suzuki Foundation as one of 10 Grand Prize/People’s Choice Future Ground Prize finalists for their Farming Allies Now! (FAN) project.
The goal of this contest, sponsored by Desjardins and supported by Nature’s Way, is to encourage and celebrate community projects that are “working to build a green and just future.”
RULA past president and Wellington County resident Dale Colleen Hamilton, who comes from six generations of Wellington County farming families, said green and just have to go hand in hand.
“Green, for us, means that we, as many Indigenous cultures do, see humans and the natural world as one entity and that the world is a living entity unto itself,” she said.
Hamilton said being selected as a finalist for the award comes as a great honour.
“As the evidence of the climate emergency is upon us, I think there’s few and fewer climate change deniers, so for those of us who hold (David Suzuki) in high regard, it’s a great honour,” she said.
Hamilton explained being nominated in Dr. Suzuki’s name creates added credibility and increased profile due to the foundation’s large membership and international following.
“It will really be a boost for those who are really passionate about it and have been putting in a lot of volunteer time,” Hamilton said.
She added the organization is working to create and deepen alliances with rural farmers, urban gardeners and also Indigenous peoples.
“We are looking at it as a way to develop those relationships with each other but also with the earth in terms of an important and, I think, urgently needed rethinking of how we grow our food, particularly because of the clime emergency we find ourselves in.”
The FAN project began about a year ago. RULA has been working with urban organizations primarily in Toronto, the Six Nations’ Land of the Dancing Deer and most recently they’ve been given a seven-year lease on five acres of land in the town of Penetanguishene.
They’ve also received a donation of the use of an additional five acres in Wellington County on the outskirts of Eden Mills.
“All of this has allowed us to do demonstration gardens of regenerative agriculture projects,” Hamilton explained.
“It’s all organic and we use no chemical fertilizers approach to create natural conditions and to use natural fertilizer (manure), which there seems to be no shortage of here in Wellington County.”
Voting takes place June 1 to 15. For details about the finalists and to vote, please go to https://davidsuzuki.org/take-action/act-locally/future-ground-prize.
RULA is also training 55 students through a grant received from York University. Due to the pandemic, all training sessions are being hosted online.
Hamilton said RULA is looking at alternative and innovative ways to do online training that allow for more interaction. They’re also looking at carrying the training program into the summer and the fall.
“We have a wonderful array of courses that we’re offering, of course online,” Hamilton said. “We really intended it to be experiential learning, bringing the students to our various satellite farm locations.”
RULA is also welcoming local farmers interested in different approaches to agriculture to contact them about getting involved.
“Unless we can get this kind of agriculture happening on a very large scale, it’s going to be hard to reach the momentum required to really make a difference in terms of the climate emergency,” she said.
For more information on the project and how to participate, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.