Tag Archives: water

The Fertile Banks of the St. Lawrence

14 Aug

Cycle touring is great because you often stay in rural places. Our St-Vallier hosts, Dany and Maïté, live in a part of town that’s not even connected to the town’s water supply. The house’s water comes from their well, but it’s not pleasant to drink because of a light sulphur odour. Many people purchase expensive filtration systems, but Dany and Maïté make trips to the nearby woods where there is a natural spring, and get their drinking water from there. Just what we needed after a full day of cycling in the sun!

Maïté has a beautiful vegetable garden in their backyard. She grows variety of veggies including some extra large and very tasty zucchinis. She was full of creative ideas for her garden.

Maïté figured out a three-stage compost system that’s suitable to their house. First, they collect the compost in a bin. Once the bin is full, usually after a year, they transfer it to a raised bed; this year, she planted some zucchinis and geraniums on it for aesthetic appeal. After another year, the ready compost goes into the garden.

The family does without a lawnmower. In the spring, they buy some rabbits and set the rabbit cage on the grass. Once that area has been ‘mowed’ they move the cage to the next area. In the fall, they eat the rabbits, although their 5-year-old son, Matéo, doesn’t know that yet, but is starting to catch on that the rabbits each year are different and it makes him sad.

They also do without herbicides for killing dandelions, and in the early summer their lawn turns bright yellow. Instead of stressing about it and working against nature, they enjoy it.

When you come to a small town on a weeknight, you don’t necessarily expect a beach party. But that’s what we found in Kamouraska. Our hosts, garlic growers from the nearby St-Germain, were celebrating a friend’s birthday, and we were invited!

At the afterparty, we talked to Jesse, who works for Greenpeace. He is cycling around Quebec with a colleague, encouraging people to get involved with Greenpeace. Many people have been very receptive and welcoming, he tells us. However, in Canada people are reluctant in having convesation about the environment: many of them have jobs in industries like mining or oil extraction that are damaging to the environment. So they feel a bit guilty or responsible and do not want to get themselves into a conversation where they will be blamed or accused.

One of the friends had recently butchered his goat, and some of its meat was roasting over the fire. Our conversation naturally turned to food. Jesse had grown up on an organic farm, where fresh, organic meat was a big part of his diet. When he moved away, he realized that grocery store meat is not nearly as good as what he had been eating all his life. He gradually learned to eat mostly vegetarian and stopped buying meat. But Jesse does not promote strict vegetarian diets: he likes to challenge vegans and vegetarians on their values. For example, can a vegetarian eat roadkill, which already died anyway, and is going to waste?

One day Jesse would like to learn to hunt. He says if people got their meat hunting, they would better understand the value and ecological context of the meat they were eating, and would adapt their diet accordingly.


25 May

We are thoroughly enjoying our well deserved rest. Ah, a lazy Okanagan day: tasting wine, treating ourselves to fancy meals, taking in the sunshine and being inspired by the scenery.

So today we’re on our wine tour (de sustainability). Our favourite vineyard, both for the wines and the welcoming hosts, is Ruby Blues. They are a small winery that uses only their own locally grown grapes. The host talked about the advantages of running a smaller operation: you have the luxury to use only your own grapes, which gives you complete knowledge and control of how the grapes are grown. This leads to decisions that prioritize quality over quantity and the production can be more easily adapted to the current season.

Yesteday, we has a great couchsurf with Jarrett, who works for the Forestry department. One of the cool parts of his job is to intentionally set fire to the brush and undergrowth in the forest. This is called a ‘controlled burn.’ It lowers the fire hazard and risk of pine beetle infestation. The biggest challenge with these is to reconcile the need for a controlled burn with people’s concerns about the smoke.

Jarrett also had some interesting job-related stories to share. One time he found out where their bottled water comes from: Bridesville. His crew needed water to extinguish a local forest fire, and they were instructed to grab water from “the spring,” which was in Bridesville, apparently a run-down little town with not much to say for their water source’s cleanliness standards. Lessons learned?! Drink tap water, duh! Considering the regulations for our tap water quality (which do not exist in the bottled water business), the chances are your tap water is just as or even more clean than your bottled water.

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