Monday, October 14, 2013

Growing season just about done for year

Thomas Brothers Farm Market, south of London on hwy 4

It used to be that my wife and I would drive outside the city to buy fresh Ontario fruits and vegetables. Today we don't have to leave the city. The market we go to has not moved but some years back the city boundaries did. The result is that some stands are now inside the expanding city, some stands have been closed and others have disappeared completely, replaced by housing.

I've watched the loss of precious southwestern Ontario farmland to industry and housing for decades, ever since I was a little boy. The acreage that has disappeared is astronomical. It is equal to the area of the province of Prince Edward Island and then some.

Today we get a lot of our broccoli from California, our asparagus from Peru and our peaches (canned) from South Africa. Peaches are no longer canned in Ontario. The water tables in the agricultural areas of both California and Peru are dropping. The day may well come when many of the areas shipping massive amounts of fresh vegetables today, will be unable to continue tomorrow. Starved for water the distant farmlands will be brown with withered crops.

This is no way to treat our space ship: Space Ship Earth.

I was amazed to find locally grown corn still available at the roadside food market.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

New park fails to impress U.S. architect

This little park would benefit from some better planning, a little imagination.
Over the weekend, I took a visiting American architect for a tour of a new development in the southwest London. He had some interesting insights -- insights that should be of interest to those taking part in the ReThink London process.

For one thing, he was not impressed with the large park in the new Talbot Village development. Yes, it did attract kids. Yes, it did provide a place to play. But it could have been so much more. As it is, it is simply an open chunk of land trapped inside a circle of roads. It does feature some playground equipment -- a plus -- but it could have been so much more.

This small park in Montreal is a beauty.
When I was in Montreal recently, I walked to a park near to where I was staying. It was beautiful. Well treed and featuring a large pond fed by a small, rock-edged, meandering stream. A paved path through the park made good use of the little stream.

The park in Montreal was a neighbourhood focal point. The surrounding homes all faced the park unlike this new park in London. The London park seems ignored. Almost forgotten by those living nearby.

Think of the squares of Savannah, Georgia, or The Green in Dover, Delaware. For inspiration, Londoners actually need look no farther than the city's own Victoria Park in the city core. I am not suggesting that a small suburban park needs to be as grand as the large park in the core. I am only suggesting a small neighbourhood park can easily be more than what has been delivered in southwest London.

Both the Montreal park and the homes nearby benefit from their interaction.