Category Archives: Agriculture and Local Food

3rd annual Sustainable Peterborough Partnership Recognition Event & Awards

Sustainable Peterborough is pleased to invite you to attend the 3rd annual Sustainable Peterborough Partnership Recognition Event & Awards. We are delighted to host this year’s event at the Lang Pioneer Village Museum’s brand new Peterborough County Agricultural Heritage Building!

In order to recognize the numerous sustainable achievements that our partner organizations have accomplished in 2017, Sustainable Peterborough is proud to host the 3rd annual Sustainable Peterborough Partnership Recognition Awards. Winners will be announced at the event.

The event will feature a special keynote presentation by Cam Mather – “Steps for Personal Action on Climate Change…and a pretty cool and more independent lifestyle”. Cam and his wife Michelle live on a homestead near Tamworth, Ontario, 90 minutes east of Peterborough. They live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and business. He is the author of “The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook” and “Little House Off the Grid; Our Family’s Journey to Self-Sufficiency”. The Mathers are close to their goal of making their home “zero-carbon” and they successfully ran a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for 5 years supplying 30 families with organic produce. Cam loves the challenge of providing others with the tools to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and to get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.

Date: Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Time: 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Location: The Great Hall at the Peterborough County Agricultural Heritage Building, Lang Pioneer Village Museum, 104 Lang Rd, Keene, ON K0L 2G0

Please RSVP on our event registration page by Monday, April 16, 2018. Event admission is free. Light refreshments will be served.

Sustainable Peterborough 2016 Award Winners!

SP award winners group photoIn order to recognize the numerous sustainable achievements of our partners in 2016, Sustainable Peterborough was proud to host the 2nd annual Sustainable Peterborough Partnership Recognition Awards!

There were eleven winners, one in each of Sustainable Peterborough’s theme areas. Awards were presented during the Sustainable Peterborough Partnership Recognition Event and Awards on April 20, 2017 at Market Hall. The winners were as follows:

Agriculture and Local Food

Farms at Work
The work of Farms at Work includes protecting farmland, supporting the building and expansion of the local food value chain, and helping farmers in stewarding their land. In 2016 Farms at Work completed five pollinator plantings on farms. They also ran three hands-on, on-farm five-day field courses and hosted two workshops on seed production. Moreover, they developed and piloted a unique Farm Business Planning Program. Farms at Work coordinates the East Central Ontario Stewardship Collaborative who in 2016 completed nearly 100 on-farm projects and hosted a workshop on climate change impacts, source water protection and invasive plants.

Climate Change

Trent University
Trent University, through their new Energy Performance Contract, is in the construction phase of a large-scale energy retrofit project anticipated to save more than 2,500 tonnes of CO2 annually. In 2016 they set an ambitious energy savings target of 11 GWh and have commenced revamping the entire campus for energy efficiency. In 2016, Trent has installed 8 high-efficiency boilers, updated the campus sub-metering system to be linked with an energy dashboard for energy efficiency, and replaced 33,167 lights with LEDs, to an annual savings of over 3 million kWh.

Cultural Assets

The partnership of Lang Pioneer Village Museum, Curve Lake First Nation and Hiawatha First Nation
Lang Pioneer Village Museum with their Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nation partners completed a video entitled “Aabnaabin: Looking Back to Where We Came From”. A retrospective of the settlement period in Peterborough County from the perspective of both a European Settler and a Michi Saagig person native to the area, the video represents Lang’s efforts to equitably show the settlement period from both cultures’ perspectives. With the help of Tom Cowie, Kim Muskratt and Caleb Musgrave from Hiawatha, Anne Taylor and Tracey Taylor from Curve Lake and others, the First Nation interpretation at Lang has been expanded as part of the regular programming and at special events. The video (produced by Impact Communications and featuring D.J. Fife and Mark Finnan), along with interpretive panels at the Museum, acknowledge the debt owed by the immigrants from the old world to the local First Nations people.

Economic Development & Employment

Kawartha Local
Rob Howard started Kawartha Local to make it easy for people to give guaranteed local gifts. A Small Box Store, their gift crates and boxes are packed with products from the Peterborough area. In 2016 Kawartha Local won the Bears’ Lair competition in the Goods and Services category. Their goal is not just to sell local products, but also to introduce local consumers to local producers, to partner with local producers to create new offerings, and to provide a way for artists and artisans to showcase their works. Not only are the boxes and their contents locally made, the boxes themselves are designed to be reused and repurposed. The gift crate even converts to a book shelf or side table!


The partnership of Mortlock Construction and Lett Architects
In 2016 the partnership of Mortlock Construction and Lett Architects completed the construction of Lakefield College School’s new Upland Residence. Designed by Lett Architects and built by Mortlock Construction, the LEED Gold Certified building meets stringent environmental and sustainability standards, and combines natural materials into the existing natural bedrock that encases the residence.

Healthy Communities

Seeds of Change
Seeds of Change is a community hub that offers spaces in which everyone, regardless of age, socio-economic status, faith, race, gender, sexuality, ability, etc, can connect with others. Every two months they hold a community meal where everyone is welcome. To support the local economy and reduce their carbon footprint, they source much of their food from local producers. Food waste is composted and cycled into their community gardens. In 2016, in partnership with the Peterborough Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind, they developed a Sensory Garden. The opportunities offered at Seeds of Change directly reduce social isolation, while simultaneously improving physical health, nutrition, and mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Land Use Planning

Township of Otonabee-South Monaghan
In 2016 the Township of Otonabee-South Monaghan established the Solar Policy in order to protect agricultural land and areas of environmental protection. They recognize that green energy is an element of climate change mitigation but also that local agricultural production is needed for food security. To balance these objectives, the Solar Policy prioritizes roof-top solar. Several large scale rooftop installations are found on agricultural buildings across the Township. Second priority is given to micro solar with a minimal footprint, followed by small scale ground mounts on marginal lands. Their Solar Policy is an example of how to effectively balance the pillars of sustainability by supporting green energy without compromising the long term sustainability of agricultural land.

Natural Assets

The partnership of Otonabee Conservation, Siemens Canada Ltd. (Peterborough) and City of Peterborough
In 2016, 40 native trees were planted at Kiwanis Park in Peterborough through a partnership between Siemens Canada Ltd. (Peterborough), Otonabee Conservation, the City of Peterborough, and Tree Canada. Kiwanis Park was forested approximately 25 years ago, using Ash Trees which are unfortunately now susceptible to the effects of the Emerald Ash Borer. The trees newly planted ensure that new trees are established as the existing Ash Trees decline and are removed, as it is critical that forest cover is maintained, to provide shade, enhance habitat and increase biodiversity.


Fleming College Student Administrative Council
As a result of a student referendum, the Fleming College Student Administrative Council and Fleming College implemented a new transit fee within the student tuition fee. This resulted in a new student and staff carpooling program, a significant reduction of student and staff public transit prices, expanded transit service, cycling infrastructure, bike repair stations and the launching of Zagster, a commercial bike loan program. The Zagster program is a partnership with Fleming College and the City of Peterborough, resulting in the installation of bike loan stations at the Sutherland Campus and in downtown Peterborough. Students have access to these bikes at no extra charge, while staff and the general public can pay a fee to use them.


Belmont Lake Brewery
Located in Havelock, this locally owned small craft brewery opened in 2016. They produce virtually no waste, as their beer is sold in reusable medicine bottles and growlers and their only waste product, the mash grain, is given to a local farmer to feed his pigs.


In October 2016, in partnership with The Wine Shoppe and Green Communities Canada, the GreenUP run Depave Paradise project transformed 35 m2 of asphalt at the corner of Park St. and Brock St. in Peterborough into a water friendly green space. With support from Peterborough Utilities Group, GreenUP launched the WaterWise program, which recognizes homeowners who reduce water use through their landscape choices. GreenUP is a member of the Peterborough Children’s Water Festival (PCWF), along with Peterborough Utilities Services, Otonabee Conservation, City of Peterborough, Trent University, Ontario Waterpower Association, Riverview Park and Zoo. In 2016, the PCWF, with funding from the Healthy Kids Community Challenge and Ontario Trillium Foundation, launched the Wonders of Water pilot program, extending ongoing water conservation programming beyond the festival, into classrooms and to a broader audience.


Old building, new approach as The Mount embraces sustainable growth

Andi van Koeverden is in her office in the oldest section of the former Mount St. Joseph convent, describing the work that has gone into creating the Mount Community Centre in a massive, 120-year old building that sat vacant for four years.

While the story is intriguing, I find it hard not to be distracted by the unusual stand that supports her computer screen.

It’s a used paint can. The screen’s circular base fits perfectly in the lid of the can and sits at just the right viewing height to reduce strain on her neck.

When I ask about it she laughs and says by way of explanation: “I don’t usually do interviews in this office.”

Maybe she should. The recycled can, paint drips and all, is an effective visual reminder of her observation that “sustainability has so many facets.”

That’s something she’s come to appreciate during her two years as strategic advancement director at the Mount project.

“At the end of the day this building is not in the landfill,” she says. “That is nothing short of a miracle.”

Portions of the rambling, 130,000-square-foot complex on Monaghan Rd. are protected under the Ontario Heritage Act so it would not likely have been torn down and replaced.

However, van Koeverden notes, it could have simply fallen apart over time.

When the developer that purchased the complex from the Sisters of St. Joseph in 2009 abandoned its condominium restoration plan, the Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network stepped in.

The non-profit group’s vision of affordable housing and a “food hub” eventually morphed into a grander plan run by a volunteer board, the Mount Community Centre. The complex is now on its way to becoming housing, offices for non-profit agencies, an arts and culture centre and a food centre with community gardens and a commercial-grade kitchen and food processing capability.

The first 43 apartments opened three weeks ago in the most modern wing, renamed Woodland Apartments. The wing had contained 130 tiny residence rooms, not much more than cubicles, that were used by Sisters of St. Joseph nuns.

Volunteer crews tore out 1.5 linear kilometres of cinderblock walls in the process, van Koeverden says, and all if it was repurposed as fill.

Volunteers also took apart, repainted and reassembled large wooden wardrobes that had been the Sisters’ closet space. They are now part of the new apartments.

“When the Sisters came through for their tours, three of then when I told them that story, their eyes filled with tears that we weren’t dumping their wardrobes in the dumpster.”

Along with the old and preserved there is new and high-tech.

A large room on the ground floor is dedicated to storage of e-bikes, complete with recharging stations. Three massive old boilers have been replaced with super-efficient Viessmann boilers that she describes as “literally, the size of a beer fridge” and which can heat half the entire building space.

Peterborough Utilities staff did an assessment of the original building and the renovation plan “and we are eligible for rebates and incentives right down to every bathroom fan in the apartment units, motors for the big air handler units on the roof, even installing low-flow toilets,” van Koeverden says.

“Even something like 50 bucks for every toilet is a huge incentive.”

She takes special pride in the food hub and plans for up to 100 garden plots in 5,000 square feet of space. Tenants will have first call but there will likely be many left for the general public.

“We envision training programs, people learning to grow fresh produce in their own garden plots and then on Tuesday and Thursday nights learn how to make soup, or can it … or what have you.”

The plan has echoes of the community garden plots the Sisters offered on the property 50 years ago.

“We are trying to carry on that legacy as well of service to society,” van Koeverden says, “so, trying to sustain that legacy.”

One more facet of sustainability, one that goes well beyond bricks and mortar.

This is one of a series of articles commissioned and paid for by Sustainable Peterborough and published in partnership with The Peterborough Examiner. By Jim Hendry, Peterborough Examiner, original article published Friday, October 28, 2016.


Rainwater reservoir helps Robinson Place stay green

Homes with a rain barrel connected to the downspout are fairly common today, saving up nature’s own water source for use watering gardens and washing cars.

But 20 years ago a rain barrel was a sign that whoever lived there was on the cutting edge of eco-awareness.

So to with Robinson Place, the massive but elegantly designed building at Water and Charlotte streets commonly referred to as “the MNR office.”

When it opened 20 years ago Robinson Place had a hidden resource down in the basement: a 35,000-litre rainwater tank, equivalent to a 24-by-12-foot swimming pool, eight feet deep.

Water from the tank is used to flush toilets. A seven-storey, 350,000-sq.-ft. building that provides office space to more than 1,000 provincial government employees has a lot of toilets.

David Burns didn’t know about the rainwater system when he signed on as building manager at Robinson Place. Nor was he aware of the large natural area, waterfall and vegetable garden tucked away on the Otonabee River side of the building.

Burns works for CBRE GCS Canada, a property management company hired by the province. Robinson Place is the largest of several buildings he is responsible for in Peterborough and area and his own office is there.

Designed as the provincial headquarters of the Ministry of Natural Resources (now Natural Resources and Forestry), it was originally used solely by MNR. Today it also has offices for six other ministries.

In eco terms, the building’s defining accomplishment is achieving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum status two years ago. Most LEED Platinum buildings were built with the exacting standard in mind. Robinson Place is one of just 12 in Canada to qualify in the “existing building operations and maintenance” category, and the first government building.

Technical upgrades that pushed the building into the platinum circle included magnetic bearings in the compressors of huge cold water “chillers” that drive the air conditioning system. Using a magnetic field instead of mechanical shafts reduced energy use, Burns explains.

Across the board, energy consumption has been reduced by 31% over the past decade, he says. Aggressive recycling promotion has steadily increased the rate of diverting waste from the city/county landfill site. In 2012 the diversion rate was 62%; for 2015 it was 77%.

Features like the vegetable garden also contribute to LEED success, Burns says. We walk from the bright, sunny lobby out to a rear stone courtyard. Off to the right is a gate, latched but not locked, in a tall fence covered with vegetation.

Inside the garden area, roughly the size of large backyard, we sit at one of several picnic benches. It’s a natural area without trimmed grass or landscaping. Seven raised vegetable planters, each six feet by four feet, are the most noticeable feature.

The planters overflow with tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, melons, lettuce, spinach, onions, beets and carrots. Burns and 10 to 20 others who work at Robinson Place and tend the gardens each summer deliver their harvest to the nearby Lighthouse Community Centre at St. John’s Anglican Church.

Another hidden resource that contributes to the “green” aspect of Robinson Place is a bicycle parking area in the underground garage.

“We have a very high percentage of staff that bicycle to work,” Burns says, “in the range of 80 to 100 bicyclists.” Several garage parking spaces were converted to bike racks and a bicycle repair station.

The vegetable garden sits on top of the parking garage entrance. We go back out the gate and stroll alongside the waterfall, which more closely resembles a gently descending set of rapids. The quiet burble of tumbling water makes for a soothing little oasis.

It’s a popular lunchtime retreat, one that Burns and many of the building’s workers appreciate.

“I have people come up here from Toronto, consultants, and they say, ‘Oh my God, I wish I worked here.’ And I say, ‘Sorry, you can’t, because I am.’”

Employers take note: good, green design can help attract, and keep, good people.

This is one of a series of articles commissioned and paid for by Sustainable Peterborough and published in partnership with The Peterborough Examiner. By Jim Hendry, Peterborough Examiner, original article published Saturday, July 30, 2016.

Level 2 Drought Persists!

Despite some rain in August, Level 2 Drought for the Otonabee Watershed still persists, and 20% water conservation is encouraged.  For more details please refer to the news release and presentation by Otonabee Region Conservation Authority.

Some helpful resources include:

OMAFRA Dry Conditions and Low Water

MOECC Green Facts – Managing your water well in times of water shortage

CMHC Household Guide to Water Efficicency