Mushrooms, chickens and bling

What a day!

We hit the road early again and drove to a mushroom farm in Ashburn, Ont. We all commented on the proximity of the community to the farm and noted how odd it was that there was large retail development and then bang! a mushroom farm.

Clay Taylor showed us around the composting and told us of the steps he’s taken to work with the community. It’s been an uphill battle and he continues the climb up the steep path to neighbourhood harmony. But it’s not like he’s the bully. The issue of urban crush is an urgent issue in agriculture and for producers like Clay, protection against the city has become a cost of production.

Daryl and Sherry Phoenix run a poultry/layer operation. For all four of the students, this was their first time into a layer barn and afterwards, they were a lot of mixed emotions about the visit. Daryl talked of how he cares for his chickens and does what he can to ensure they’re comfortable and content. Yet when we actually saw the poultry in the barn, it was a bit shocking for the students. As far as the eye could see were rows of chickens. They were timid but curious.

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about chickens since we left the poultry farm. Are they comfortable in that environment? Are they happy? Are we putting human values on chickens? The facility meets standards, but are the standards good enough. It made for some thoughtful discussions.

We ended our day of touring with a stop in downtown Toronto. We were all a bit starved for some city, but when we stopped in the hemp store, each of us grabbed a pamphlet on mushroom growing — uh, different mushrooms this time.

Arie, our lone male on the trip, was a true trooper as we stopped in a few dress stores, jewelry shops and purse boutiques. We offered to find a hardware store for him, but he graciously declined. Besides, by the time we finished in all of the “girl” stores, the hardware store was closed.

Tomorrow, on to Winnipeg. I might try to get some photographs up there too.


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