Gadabout Gardener

 

Back to Bruce Cumpson’s Olde Town Gardens in Niagara-on-the-Lake with Welland hosta gardener Ron Lemon, for a walkabout and some puchases. This is what you call ‘getting away from it all!’ (Gadabout Gardener is a recurring feature on the blog. Photos by Joe Barkovich)

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Concert On The Canal

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This Friday’s  free concert on the floating stage at Merritt Park stars Practically Hip, a Tragically Hip tribute band. The opening act is Jeff Beadle. Friday’s concert gets underway at 7 p.m. Pictured, a concert from August, 2017. (File photo Joe Barkovich)

Students, Canadian Growers Benefit From Plant Research

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(L-R) Student researchers Evan Hadley and Charlie Laporte with Frontline Growing Products president Dave de Haan and NC horticulture professor Mary Jane Clark, with verbena plants from the research study in the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus greenhouse. (Niagara College photo)

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE – Research recently completed by Niagara College horticulture students will go a long way in helping illustrate the benefits of a bioavailable product that helps strengthen plant resilience to environmental stress and disease, says Dave de Haan of Frontline Growing Products, the industry partner and Canadian distributor for the product tested.

The product is Silamol® (containing the only plant-available form of Silicon) and, while there has been a lot of research on the world stage, Canadian growers want to hear of Canadian studies testing Silamol®, explains de Haan, Frontline’s founder and president. For local growers, he says, local research studies “seem to have more credibility than studies done around the world.”

It also helps that the students’ 11-week trial of Silamol® found positive results after evaluation of whether the product would reduce incidence or severity of disease from a crop of potted verbena in the NC greenhouse. The work done by Research & Innovation assistants (and now recent graduates of the College’s Horticulture Technician program) Charlie Laporte and Evan Hadley, with some assistance from the Applied Plant Pathology class, determined that a weekly application of Silamol® sprayed on the verbena leaves seemed to offer the best protection from powdery mildew disease symptoms.

Verbena, an annual flower, was chosen by local greenhouse growers as the ideal subject for this study due to its high susceptibility to disease, says NC horticulture professor Mary Jane Clark. All plants were grown on the same bench in the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus greenhouse, and there were trays assigned to one of four different weekly treatments, arranged in a randomized block design. Plants were monitored for visual symptoms of diseases and pests.

Laporte and Hadley made the weekly applications and monitored the plants, recording observation notes. Explains Laporte: “We would take measurements on a weekly basis to track plant height, canopy spread, soil pH and EC and finally, the presence of any pest or pathogen.”

Silamol® is not a pest control product, but rather a biostimulant. It contains a high concentration of stabilized silicic acid, which gets stored in cell membranes of foliage and stems, creating a barrier within the cell walls. This acts as the plant’s natural defense system, which, in turn, improves resilience and growth, says de Haan.
Ultimately, the weekly foliar spray application of Silamol® seemed to offer “the best protection of greenhouse-grown verbena from initial incidence as well as severity of powdery mildew symptoms,” explains Clark.

Aside from the needed research, de Haan says the main reason he chose Niagara College to collaborate with is to lay some educational groundwork for the student researchers. “I wanted to help future Canadian growers learn more about alternative products that will help to reduce the need for more chemicals,” he says. “With less use of agricultural chemicals, our environment and food chain improve, benefitting all of us.”

Laporte agrees he has reaped the benefits from such research: “I gained a tremendous amount of valuable knowledge and experience while being employed by NC’s Research & Innovation division, further cementing many techniques and concepts learned in our curriculum at NC,” he says. “Working for an actual industry partner and testing a product such as Silamol® was a great way to get an introduction to this vast industry, and gave the project a real sense of purpose. We both knew that this was valuable data we were collecting because many growers face challenges with powdery mildew and this could become a tool in many growers’ tool boxes.”

As for Hadley, participating in the research project has provided many rewards. “It definitely gave me some confidence prior to entering the workforce and I think it equipped me with some tools and ideas that have carried forward when problem solving at work,” says Hadley. He also credits a good part of his being accepted into an internship at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania to his research job with the College. “My experience here was definitely something [Longwood Gardens] considered in my application, as I will be assisting in some horticultural research there.”

This horticulture research was made possible thanks to funding from the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and its College Voucher for Technology Adoption (CVTA) program. Through this grant, industry partners can acquire new prototypes, products, processes, and test results that validate their products and services, bringing them closer to market.

Frontline Growing Products Inc. is a Niagara-based horticultural company specializing in providing sustainable growing options, helping to reduce the need for chemical use. Supplying products like Silamol®, as well as standard and custom peat and coco-based growing substrates.

NC’s Research & Innovation division provides real-world solutions for business, industry and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities. This includes conducting projects that provide innovative solutions, such as producing and testing prototypes, evaluating new technologies, and developing new or improved products or processes for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Course-based research projects are part of the suite of experiential learning opportunities offered to students at Niagara College. Research & Innovation supports academic programs and faculty who wish to undertake projects with real-world industry partners, in a variety of programs. Resources include recruiting industry partners, toolkits for conducting a course-based project, and suggested frameworks to help shape the integration of the project into the teaching and learning outcomes. To learn more about course-based projects, please contact course-based project coordinator Alisa Cunnington at acunnington@niagaracollege.ca.

(Source: InsideNC)

Mark Carl Named CEO Of Habitat For Humanity Niagara

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Mark Carl

The Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity Niagara is pleased to announce the appointment of Mark Carl as its new Chief Executive Officer. Carl succeeds Alastair Davis, who retired in June after more than 12 years at the helm of Habitat Niagara.

“These are big shoes to fill,” says Board Chair Paul Miller. “Alastair Davis was the face of Habitat in Niagara for more than twelve years. We are thrilled that someone of the calibre of Mark Carl will be part of our team, building on Alastair’s legacy and leading us to the next level.”

Prior to joining Habitat for Humanity Niagara, Mark served as Executive Director of the Hope Centre in Welland, overseeing its evolution from a financially challenged emergency shelter to a vital agency with a focus on transitional and permanent affordable housing. In addition, he transformed the Hope Centre into a social service hub, attracting several community partners to co-locate within the growing organization, which allowed the community to access seamless, wraparound services in a safe, welcoming environment. Mark initiated building improvements, creating a new soup kitchen and common area, thereby increasing client access to meal programs. More recently, Mark secured $3 million for an additional 20-unit supportive housing program and has established corporate partnerships that will allow for continuous improvement of this hub model.

Mark has served as a city councillor in Welland since 2010, and has a strong record of community involvement, contributing time and expertise to both the Welland Downtown BIA and North Welland BIA, as well as serving on the Economic Development Committee and as Chair of the Niagara Region Social Service Hub committee.

The experience that Mark  brings with him to Habitat Niagara will build on the legacy established by Davis, that saw more than 30 Habitat homes built for local families in need of decent and affordable housing over the past 12 years, as well as opening two more ReStores in Fonthill and Grimsby, in addition to the St. Catharines ReStore.

Habitat builds strength, stability and independence for families through affordable home ownership and since beginning operations in 1993 in Niagara, has partnered with 68 local families and constructed 62 homes with plans to build as many as 42 more by 2022. “We have set an ambitious strategic direction to serve significantly more Niagara families,” says Miller. “We know that Mark brings the right skills and experience to help us achieve that goal.”

Mark is excited to work with the Board, staff, volunteers, donors and community partners in leading creative and innovative approaches so more families can afford the reality of home ownership. He has witnessed the enormous impact Habitat for Humanity Niagara has had on families in increasing access to education, developing greater community integration and improved overall well-being.

Mark officially starts as CEO of Habitat Niagara on August 7, 2018.

(Source: Habitat for Humanity release)

Lasting Image: Ivan Zecchini, His Countenance Glowed From Wide-Eyed Appreciation

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Ivan Zecchini, right, at the 2006 Welland Horticultural Society Rose Show where one of his entries won Grand Champion Rose in Show. At left is Marvin Myhre, who was president of the society. (Editor’s note: Unfortunately, the newspaper page from where this image was taken became creased when placed in the archive, hence the streak through a part.)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

Ivan Zecchini, who died Wednesday, July 11, will be remembered by many as a gentle man and a gentleman. He marked his 89th birthday on June 28.

Soft-spoken and the epitome of politeness, Mr. Zecchini was a Wellander who was proud of his hometown. He told me that many times, including the last occasion we met, Friday evening, July 6.

An only child whose father worked at the Plymouth Cordage plant, he was born in one of the Cordage houses on King Street. Later, his family moved to a home on Hellems Avenue near Lincoln Street. From there they moved to Summit Avenue where he lived until his passing, almost five decades.

Sitting on the front porch when I visited that Friday evening, he talked about ongoing affection for the neighbourhood, his respect and admiration for its majestic, towering trees and the shade canopy they provide, and mourning doves that were occasional visitors. He considered himself blessed to live in such a setting, expressing undying gratitude – even all these years later – to his parents for their decision to relocate to this still and peaceful part of town.

Mr. Zecchini had a rare attribute. In a friendship that spanned about 25 years, I cannot recall him uttering a negative word about anyone. Nada. Not one. A mutual friend shared that remembrance during the telephone call in which we were told of his passing. Even when U.S. President Donald Trump’s name would surface in conversation, Mr. Zecchini refrained from caustic, critical commentary. Simply put: it just was not in him.

Gifted with a strong commitment to helping care for the poor, he was a long-time member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society at his parish, St. Kevin, Welland, including serving as treasurer. Though long retired from the charitable organization, he remained a model Vincentian who, in daily life, lived its virtues, particularly simplicity, humility and meekness. Mr. Zecchini faithfully attended the annual Stations of the Cross re-enactment at the church by Notre Dame College School students on Good Fridays. From his preferred pew near the back of the church, he would watch the actors in rapt silence, commenting only when the production was finished. He went home moved by the experience.

He had a deeply-rooted fondness for roses. It was an inheritance from his father, who planted roses and tended them for years. After his passing, Mr. Zecchini carried on the tradition, growing the garden to about 50 bushes at peak. As an exhibitor in local rose shows, his entries won many ribbons and trophies, including for best of show.

His backyard abutted that of another notable rosarian, the late Joe Mocsan. They convened every so often at the fence that separated their properties, trading comments about respective blooms of various hues. Mr. Mocsan was chairman of the Rose Festival Rose Show several years, and Mr. Zecchini served as his able assistant. It was a perfect pairing!

I now wish my visits to this house where time seemed to stand still had been more frequent. They started on the front porch, then carried on inside at Mr. Zecchini’s kitchen table. The conversations meandered. We talked about Welland in the ’50s, Welland in the ’60s, Welland in the ’70s, historic events (the final raising of the Main Street bridge in December, 1972 was one of his favourites, he was there to bear witness), King Street, Main Street, Fifth Street (a family connection made him a visitor to the latter), Plymouth Cordage, the old railway swing bridge, and more.

It was in the kitchen that Mr. Zecchini brought out a bottle of his merlot, always served chilled. We had one glass, a second glass, and sometime a third if the conversation so warranted and time allowed. Mr. Zecchini served cookies by the dozen, almost always biscotti, but on occasion pizzelle to enjoy with his wine. It was a continental pairing!

He also poured the occasional glass of another homemade red, a Montepulciano. Once, I brought over a bottle of Montepulciano from the liquor store. A sour grapes expression appeared on his visage from assuming the store-bought bottle stood on the table as a replacement for his own. But I assured him it was a gift to enjoy at his leisure, perhaps while having a plate or two of pasta and meatsauce, the same as his mother had made for the small family in now distant years.

I will retain many lasting images of this honorable, kind-hearted man. But my favourite will always be that of Mr. Zecchini, hands clasped in front of him, sitting on his porch on a sunny summer eve. His countenance glowed from wide-eyed appreciation of the neighbourhood’s verdant splendour. The joy it brought was unabating, carrying him through to the end of his days.

(Lasting Image is a recurring feature on the blog.)

Death notice information is on the J. J. Patterson and Sons Funeral Home website at https://www.arbormemorial.ca/en/jjpatterson

 

From The Election Beat

electionWELLAND  –  Paul Turner, a community activist and retired secondary school teacher, is now a Welland trustee candidate for the Niagara Catholic District School Board.

Turner’s name was posted on the city’s election site this morning.

He joins Zachary Soos who filed his nomination papers in May.

Welland is represented by one trustee on the board.

The election is being held October 22.

To view the entire list of candidates who have filed their nomination papers please visit: https://www.welland.ca/Elections/GeneralInformation.asp

 

Out And About

 

Out And About today took us to the city’s east side, where it appears the long-awaited  construction of a new, joint elementary/secondary French-language public school is underway. The new school, as yet unnamed, will replace École Secondaire Confédération and  École élémentaire Champlain and is being built for Conseil scolaire Viamonde.  According to a story that appeared in The Tribune in February, 2017, the school will accommodate 375 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 12 and will take about 12 to 18 months for completion. Photo at top right shows part of the construction site with the existing secondary school in the background, while the two other photos show the site looking toward adjacent Eastdale Secondary School, whose gym is partly visible. (Out And About is a recurring feature on the blog. Photos by Joe Barkovich)