Silent and symbiotic

With likeness to the wind and the rain, there are silent symbiotic movements that are quietly gaining a foothold here in southern Ontario and, I suspect, sweeping across other Canadian provinces as well.


They are not hard-ruled brick and mortar complex undertakings; they are simply interconnected networks that thrive on think-alike individuals from all walks of life, working well together.

Known by few but desired by many, there is a simple, satisfying win-win relationship between urban and country dwellers that gives each and all an opportunity to “fight global warming” by shrinking the carbon tracks of long-distance trucking, bringing us food on our highways.

It makes very little difference whether your home is a cabin in the woods or within a high-rise urban apartment – what I am talking about here firstly is known as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

CSA is an innovative system of local food production in which the consumer pledges to support the grower by purchasing food shares in a close relationship, where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production.

It is, too, a social relationship that gives the buyer the satisfaction of meeting and exchanging conversations with the grower, seeing what is growing, and how it is grown.

At Westwind Farms, you are encouraged to bring the whole family. They will enjoy seeing the collection of different breeds of contented, well-kept, grass-fed, friendly animals that romp about freely in the paddocks and pastures.

Secondly, you will see, in addition to the kitchen garden, that there is a series of developing gardens, which pressed by growing demand, are numbered two, three, four, and soon to be more, covering greater than five acres.

The expansive spread of these gardens is accomplished and made possible by those whom are known by the acronym of Wwoofers: “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms,” linking volunteers from other nations with organic farms and sustainable growers.

This is a satisfying situation whereby a host gets a helping hand where and when needed in return for free accommodation, meals, and the exchange of conversation, which no doubt gives the volunteer a first-hand grasp of the language spoken in the country chosen.

The Wwoofers’ volunteer assistance here at Westwind Farms this past summer far exceeded expectations. If possible to rate on a scale of one to 10, the figure, as my eyes see it, could not be less than the high side of 12. They simply made the impossible, possible.

In addition to helping with both morning and evening chores, about one hour each, as well as mingling, getting familiar with, and learning the needs of our many animals, which include poultry, both egg layer and meat birds, pigs, goats, pastured cattle and hosted bee yard, they willingly hand-pulled weeds in the gardens. Hour after hour, day after day, more often than not well beyond the four-hour daily allotment during their two-week minimum stay.  

It is my strong gut feeling, and definite hope, that the seldom recognized silent, symbiotic relationship between these two groups will eventually come to light, turning the heads of sleeping politicians.

It is a well-known fact that global warming and sustainability must be addressed head-on. Clear-cutting of trees in our hedgerows, making side-road-to-side-road mammoth mono-planted fields to accommodate the inhumane restrictive movement of shoulder-to-shoulder feedlot housing of animals raised for food “to feed our nations,” is an ill-fated, utterly ridiculous answer.

There must be a quick turnaround in farming practices if sustainability is to be expected. Small mixed farming and the produce of small acreage holdings, coupled with the freedom of farm gate sales, are the worldwide answers to both global warming and starving nations.

Is it not imperative that politicians, worldwide, regardless of creed, colour, or party affiliation, wake to reality and synchronize their thinking? If the circle of life on this planet is to survive, the pendulum must be swung, correcting the rampaging wrongs of both present and past.

Canada could, should and can be a leader here.

 Take care, ‘cause we care.






Barrie Hopkins