Somewhere beneath the appalling recent weather is spring, and as the temperatures rise and the ice melts (hopefully), now is the time for Woolwich residents to catch up on those long-delayed New Year’s resolutions. Did you promise you were going to plant a tree? Or bike more? Or take a hike? Or do any other activity that doesn’t involve driving to the LCBO?
Returning for its seventh year, Woolwich Healthy Communities Month will offer an array of outdoor and environmental activities open to anyone with a pair of sneakers and an enthusiasm for the fresh air. The events will emphasize healthy active lifestyles, environmental initiatives, and an engagement with local food producers.
“We talk a lot about our concerns about the environment, and it’s a real opportunity to talk about ways in which we can really support our local environment,” said Joy Finney, organizer from Woolwich Healthy Communities. “There’s a lot of emphasis on wanting to supporting local farming and buying local food so you’re eating fresh.”
Among the activities: community clean-up on April 20; three opportunities for hiking (school hikes on April 22, bird watching on April 28, and a Breslau jaunt on May 5); a Spring on the Trail bike ride on May 4; and the Kids CAN-BIKE bike safety lesson on May 11.
Trees for Woolwich, the local initiative that hopes to plant 23,000 trees by 2016, will host two events: tree planting on May 4 (9 a.m. to noon), and a “Church Challenge” planting session on April 27 (9 a.m. to noon), where local parishes will unite to plant as many trees as they can.
Inga Rinne, the chair of Trees for Woolwich and a volunteer for Healthy Communities Month, sees plenty of value in the month-long festivities.
“Because it’s springtime, this is a chance for people to really think about what health means to them, and also to have a chance for the community to get together,” she said. “A lot of these are connecting activities – Taste of Woolwich, for instance, we have 40 local producers out, connecting them with citizens looking for local food.”
A centerpiece event will be A Taste of Woolwich, the annual gathering of local food producers who will meet at the Breslau Mennonite Church on April 15, 5-8 p.m.
“It’s a great opportunity to get to know your local farmers and learn where you can buy local food,” said Finney. “It brings the consumer together with the information and the knowledge.”
Among the activities at Taste of Woolwich is a guided lesson on food waste, a “Kids in the Kitchen” program, and the Local Youth Recipe Challenge, where Flow Catering chef and Observer columnist Ryan Terry will unveil the winner of a contest among Woolwich schools to find the best local recipe.
Terry hopes that programs like this will help families think twice about the food they’re eating. “In today’s society, we’re all so busy, we’re eating a lot of takeout, kids aren’t getting the proper nutrition. A lot of kids don’t even known an eggplant or a zucchini, which is kind of sad,” he said.
“It’s the means of life. You are what you eat, and my philosophy is, eat well, live a healthy lifestyle.”
The festivities begin on April 13, with a screening of the film The Man Who Planted Trees at 7 p.m. at Trinity United Church. Further information on dates and times can be found at www.healthywoolwich.org.