Friday, May 30, 2014

What are our Ontario political parties saying about neonicotinoid insecticides?

Good morning everyone,

I hope you are fine, and enjoying the sunshine we've been having lately.  I've been doing a lot of garden work at my own place and for several people who even pay me for it!

I've been having a huge dilemma tho'!  Everyone asks me where to buy plants.  And I'm afraid to suggest any place like a grocery or hardware chain parking lot, or even a greenhouse operation, because bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides are so often used in greenhouses.  These days I'm just not buying plants or putting in anything new, unless plants are certified organic, or come from a source (like a neighbour!) where I know there's never synthetic chemicals used.  

For others who want to fill a bed easily with annuals ... I just don't know what to  say (altho' I'll say more on a future post ... and you know I'm going to say something!)
The Ontario Beekeepers Association sent 'round a press release - May 28, 2014 - to let interested parties know which political parties have responded to these two questions about neonicotinoids:

"1)     Ontario's beekeeping industry has suffered through the loss of thousands of hives in both 2012 and 2013 that Health Canada has confirmed were the result of exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides in soy and corn planting. Should you be elected to lead the Government of Ontario, would you support the Ontario Beekeepers' Association's call for an immediate moratorium on the sale of the neonicotinoid treated seeds that are killing our bees?
2)     Ontario is suffering a serious decline in the population of the insect pollinators we rely on for our locally grown foods as the result of the indiscriminate use of neonicotinoid pesticides. Health Canada and other studies have shown significant amounts of persistent neonicotinoid pesticides in water and soil samples across Ontario. If elected, will your party declare this an urgent environmental problem?"

As of May 28, the OBA had received three replies.  The entire responses can be found on  The NDP had not yet replied!  The Green Party calls for a moratorium

"From Kathleen Wynne, leader of the Ontario Liberal Party:
1)     “The Ontario Liberals are committed to working with the agricultural and beekeeping sectors to (1) ensure full and equitable access to non-neonicotinoid treated seed for growers, and (2) establish a system that allows for targeted use of neonicotinoids only in production areas or production circumstances where these pesticides are actually shown to be required.”
 2)     “The OBA proposal to hold a targeted forum to develop recommendations and identify a pollinator health roadmap is one that a Liberal government would identify as a priority action to be undertaken within the first six weeks of being elected.”

From Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario: 
"1)     “The Green Party of Ontario proposes a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides until scientific evidence can conclusively determine that there is another cause for bee kills. The Green Party believes the precautionary principle should be applied to threats to our food system.”
2)     “We firmly believe that the provincial and federal governments should not put our food supply and our local economy at risk by failing to protect insect pollinators.” 

From Tim Hudak, leader of the Progressive Conservative party of Ontario:
“We appreciate the opportunity to listen to your priorities for
Ontario. We share your commitment to Ontario’s future and believe that with more and better jobs, we can do what’s necessary to bring about the change Ontario needs.”     "

The Ontario Beekeepers Association goes on to say:

“We are heartened by the response from Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne. She understands the issue and is committed to a science-based solution that balances the needs of farmers with the survival of bees and native pollinators. If implemented, this approach could reduce the amount of neonicotinoid treated seed by 80% or more.” said OBA president Dan Davidson. “We are also grateful to the Green Party for their continued commitment to this issue.” 

"The NFU in Ontario has adopted a similar position to the OBA on neonicotinoids and bee health. Both organizations have been working together on a solution that benefits bees and beekeepers while maintaining the economic viability of farming. 

“The NFU is pleased that the Liberal Party of Ontario is prepared to make untreated seed the default option and would only allow the targeted use of treated seed in limited circumstances, and that the Ontario Green Party supports a moratorium. As farmers, we will work with the OBA to ensure the next Ontario government takes concrete action to protect Ontario's native pollinators, bees and beekeepers,” said Karen Eatwell, Ontario President, National Farmers Union. "

OBA also pointed out that:

" In 2012 and 2013, over 14,000 hives were lost to bee kills linked to the indiscriminate use of neonicotinoid pesticides by Health Canada. Last year, nearly 99% of the 2.2 million acres of corn in Ontario were treated with neonicotinoids, even though the Ontario Ministry of Food and Agriculture crop specialists indicate that only 10% to 20% of acreage needs pest protection."

Just another issue to think about in the upcoming Ontario election!  Vote and vote often!

Best regards,

Why's Woman 

For further information:
Julie White OBA, 647-988-5942
Karen Eatwell, NFU, 519-232-410

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Books About Town Benches - wonderful literacy project!

Good morning everyone,

Just got my Agatha Christie enews from the official Agatha Christie website

Books About Town is a celebration of London England's literary heritage and reading ... just sitting down to read. There are going to be wonderful benches around the city!

One of the benches is a tribute to my favorite author, Agatha Christie ... there's even a facebook page to see the bench and meet the artist.  I think the artist is Mandii Pope, however, like many facebook pages, there's no direct place where it says whose page it is!    Enjoy the photo!  best regards from Why's Woman

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

To turn the truth into a story

Hello everyone,

I just listened to Elizabeth May on CBC, being interviewed by Carol Off about her longtime friend Farley Mowat, who passed away yesterday. 

Elizabeth spoke about Farley Mowat as an environmentalist, and environmentalists in general.  She said that it didn't matter how many data we put together, and how many studies we cite, we may not be able to change a person's mind or actions on a particular environmental need.  However - if we can turn the science, the facts, into a story that touches people then those people will participate and, perhaps, change for the good. 

Farley was that kind of a storyteller.  He experienced, he cared, he understood, he spoke.  I sure send kind thoughts to any and all of his family; and to Elizabeth and her family on the loss of this friend.

I appreciate Elizabeth pointing out the need for stories - something I know and forget - often - as I become caught into the need to document or follow links and "prove" what I'm trying to say.

I'll start rereading Farley Mowat's stories.  It'll be good for me.

Best regards,

Why's Woman

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Symphony of the Soil

Hello everyone!

Yes, It's been a while!  I hope you are all well and busy with gardens and life.

That's why you haven't heard from me in a while.  Not that I mind the busy with the gardens part.  We've been making piles of branches, debris and leaves around the place ... sort of mini Hugelkulture* piles ... at intervals along a hill, regenerating some soil and height in preparation for terracing over the next few years.  Our neighbours must think we are nuts.  Last fall, they bagged up their fallen leaves and we dragged them home to the yard (about 100 bags and we realize we could have used 200).

Last evening we went to see the most marvellous film: Symphony of the Soil by Deborah Koons Garcia.  (

It's a beautifully crafted web of plant and soil science, amazing photography from microscopic to vistas of wonderful plants, interviews with so many great gardeners and soil lovers one can't keep track, the most amazing watercolour animation, and - most important - some hope for soil, the planet and ourselves.

My husband and I sat in the library auditorium, holding hands, mumbling to each other things like "I've heard her talk before" and "that idea was in a book I read thirty years ago" and "it's about time they're realizing that's how to do things".   For us, it was a superior "date night".

Rodale experimental farm figured in the film, and see my note below to get a report** Rodale just came out with to do with carbon sequestration and regenerative agriculture. 

Has U.S. President Obama mentioned this report in whatever his statement was today on climate change?  (haven't read that yet ... there's too much to read most days!)

This post is a bit short on order and lyricism, I know! But ... well, I got it posted! 

Very best regards!

Why's Woman


* hugelkulture - check the entry at and then follow thge links to a great page full of "how to"

** Rodale report: Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change.  For the press release and a link to the report: