Field Notes for Summer 2020

What to buy, watch, grow this summer.

June 25, 2020 | | Field Notes

Now That’s Service: Local sellers who have our backs

Since March, we’ve been grateful for anyone who kept us going with curbside pickup and local delivery – while many spots are starting to reopen, we wanted to pause to say thank you to those who saw us through.

After Deborah Shortill was forced to close her chic clothing shop Hannah’s in Erin because it wasn’t an essential service, she wondered how she could mimic the in-store sense of discovery for her longtime customers. The answer? A no-pressure once-a-week delivery. “Our customers are traditionally very hands-on, wanting to touch, feel and try things on,” says Deborah. “We developed Hannah’s Hampers, featuring a weekly outfit for customers to order with the option to return what doesn’t suit.”

In Orangeville, Noinkee’s owner Miyeko Simons showcases her breezy clothes and accessories (and sale items) in artful Instagram posts. Orangeville BIA’s new online shopping site boosts newbie e-tailers.

Pre-pandemic, Orangeville’s BookLore had only closed during regular hours once in 30 years (that one day was in the 2003 blackout). When owner Nancy Frater had to shutter, local book hounds who’d long relied on Nancy and her staff for literary stewardship panicked the way others were panicking over toilet paper. Nancy quickly started enhanced email and phone orders (personal recommendations included), curbside pickup and local delivery.

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  • Co-operation was key for Readers’ Choice Bookstore, Blumen on Broadway and Sproule’s Emporium, who collaborated on beautiful Mother’s Day Community over Competition gift collections. Neighbour Suzanne Gardner Flowers provided free curbside “karma bouquets” and more options on her website to replace in-store browsing. Thrift shop Seconds Count, although closed, created a “Hats Off and Thank You” window for frontline and essential workers.

    In Caledon East, June & Rose Candle Co. came up with their limited edition Quarantine + Chill candle available for porch pickup or delivery. It sold out, but two more launched in May – Olive and Basil and Rosemary Mint.

    Gardening interest blossoms

    If you’ve tried to buy blooms at a garden centre recently, you’ll know by the lineup that interest in DIY gardens has surged. Here’s hoping we all find what we need. One option to consider is the Orangeville Seed Library, which has been offering porch pickup at 38 McCarthy Street. Matthew Smith, who heads up the seed library, admits gardening from seeds is a labour of love, but encourages newbies to try. Look for wildflower seeds donated by Bees Matter, a national partnership of agricultural organizations with a vested interest in pollinator health. Or try the Erin Seed Lending Library for native plants, decorative plants and flowers, and edible fruits and veggies. The library has been temporarily located at organizer Jen Edwards’ front porch.

    What to choose? Flower farmer Jenna Livingston of Flourish Blooms in Hillsburgh has a few tips. If you’re starting in late June or in July, she suggests sunflowers, zinnias and marigolds as good bets. “Learning to grow and harvest your own flowers and food makes us a more resilient and connected community,” says Jenna, who spent part of the spring delivering tulips to water-filled buckets her customers left on their porches. “I hope this trend of growing your own or searching out local producers continues post-pandemic,” she says.

    Painter Stephanie Fehrenbach. Photo courtesy Noodle Gallery.

    Painter Stephanie Fehrenbach. Photo courtesy Noodle Gallery.

    Open a tab: Virtual culture explodes

    During lockdown we needed art and culture more than ever. And local artists and institutions kept our brains fed – with art and content, much of it still online.

    Galleries and museums held virtual shows and shared online tools for students to use from home. We loved what many Alton Mill folks cooked up, including Headwaters Arts’ In The Mix show, Noodle Gallery’s spotlight on painter Stephanie Fehrenbach, and CJ Shelton’s Facebook art club. The Rose Theatre in Brampton streamed concerts from Brampton’s Polaris-prize-winning hip-hop artist Haviah Mighty and reggae singer Exco Levi for home viewing.

    Mono singer Sara Rose wrote and posted the haunting Covid-19-inspired song “Coming Home.” From her Amaranth studio Ann Randeraad shared mesmerizing videos of shaping clay and throwing pots on the wheel. And Orangeville artist Emma Pink offered a Family Art Kit to create canvas time capsules of these strange times.



    We heart this

    When the Hospice Dufferin Sharing Heart program asked for volunteers to create hearts out of paper, yarn or fabric, Shelburne’s Cathy Timbers started sewing right away. The program distributes the hearts to families with relatives living inside facilities that could not accept visitors – as comfort items to hold while thinking of each other. Cathy made close to 40 fabric hearts for families and their isolated loved ones at Shelburne Residence and Dufferin Oaks Long-Term Care Home. For more information, contact [email protected].

    Backyard campouts

    Many wilderness junkies are itching to get back out there to camp. But many parents have been keeping kids entertained by starting the season early – in the backyard. This also happens to be a smart way to check your gear for future expeditions, notes Al Pace of Mono-based Canoe North Adventures, which has paused its northern summer paddling excursions. “You may not get to the far north this summer, but brewing your morning coffee over an open fire is a great break from routine,” says Al.

    Summer camp replacement therapy

    Most camps were cancelled this summer, but innovative options are popping up. Dirt 2 Delicious Virtual Camp out of Palgrave is selling a biweekly subscription box ($30 per box, $50 for two) with local ingredients, recipes and cooking challenges. Orangeville’s Art with Jada has flipped to online one-on-one sessions including canvas, paint and instruction ($35). And Teen Ranch in Caledon hosts properly distanced trail rides (10 years and over, $40) and riding lessons (5 years and over, from $50).


    About the Author More by Janice Quirt

    Janice Quirt is a freelance writer who lives in Orangeville.

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