I always joke that I live in the armpit of Canada. Sometimes it just feels that way when I see pictures of all the other parts of this country with their clean air and never ending trees and I am surrounded by highways, smog indexes and noise. It seems that everywhere I look I see urban sprawl, with farmers fields becoming subdivisions and once large forests being reduced to the size of a postage stamp, which can overshadow the beautiful places that are close by. We may not have old growth boreal forests but we do have the Greenbelt and while it isn't home to cute baby seals and polar bears, it is a huge amount of protected land that will be around for generations to enjoy and learn from.
To disconnect and relax I often find myself escaping into nature. Living so close to the Greenbelt affords us the luxury of having easy access to extensive hiking trails, river and lake system and remote campsites. Just last month we turned off our BlackBerry's and headed into the woods for a week. It was glorious.
"For fresh air, clean water, healthy local food.....Ontario's Greenbelt is the solution. At almost 2 million acres, it's the world's largest permanently protected greenbelt, keeping our farmlands, forests, wetlands safe and sustainable." Friends of the Greenbelt
You don't have to only be in Ontario to enjoy a Greenbelt. While the official Greenbelt is here, what is important is that you get out there and incorporate nature into your day to day life.
Enjoy Natural Spaces from Land and Water
In areas like the Greenbelt there is really so many ways to spend your time. A simple hike can turn into a geocaching treasure hunt and canoeing can result in someone trying to out loon call a loon. True story. When we are hiking I often create a treasure map and we hunt for things on the way. We find unusual things as we walk, being mindful to not remove items from where we find them, except for rocks those always seem to fill everyone's pockets. Pro tip - the T marking water taps on Provincial Park maps is a great way to make kids think there is treasure all throughout the campground.
Renting a canoe will allow you to see the world from a different perspective. There is something so calming about being in the middle of lake with nothing around you but water and trees. If you haven't canoed before all you need to know is J-stroke and make little whirl pools. Start out with a small calm lake and work your way up to larger connected lakes and rivers that require portaging.
No Trace Visits
Time and time again I see people littering and trampling nature in campsites, parks and along hiking trails. Not only are their actions ruining the environment they are enjoying but it is making it harder for others to enjoy those areas by increasing the costs of maintaining the spaces. Live by the rule that you leave the area the way you found it, or better.
- What you take in, take out with you or dispose of responsibly in the provided waste and recycling containers.
- Stay on designated paths and campsites to reduce the amount of damage that plants along the edges endure.
- Know the rules about firewood. Most camp grounds have rules against gathering wood that has fallen because it removes much needed nutrient sources from the forest. There may also be rules against bringing firewood from another area, to prevent the spread of pests and diseases.
- Use organic biodegradable soaps for bathing and washing dishes.
- Don't feed the animals. As cute as it is to see a chipmunk diving into your bag of chips, it creates a situation where the animals begin to rely on humans for their food sources.
Visit a Farm
Buying local is directly linked to preserving natural spaces. Supporting local farmers by buying directly from them keeps the local agriculture industry in business. As a result farms and the green spaces around them stay and urban sprawl slows. A lot of farms and wineries will give tours, all you have to do is ask if it isn't already publicized. Expand your farming network by stopping at new farms that you pass when you are traveling outside of your neighbourhood. When we were on our camping trip last month we must have passed at least 50 on farm stands and a half a dozen farmers markets in a short 3 hour drive.
Do you want to learn how to not only protect this wonderful asset but also how you can make the most of it? Join us for a fun series of Twitter parties every Wednesday from September 17th - October 22nd. I am excited to be part of the #ONGreenbelt team and will be helping to host the sessions on September 17th and October 15th. You can register here which ensures you are eligible for prizes and make sure you follow us! @JnJGoGreen, @GreenbeltCA, @adamrodicks and @GreenMomsCo.
Related Posts - Check them Out
Being Present in Nature
What Does Local Mean?