Imagining the Future

A lot of us are daring to hope that some things really will never be the same again – in a good way.

June 22, 2021 | | Editor’s Desk

How often I’ve heard it over the past year and a half (oh, it seems so much longer): “Who could have imagined we would ever have come to this?”

Of course, some people did – those epidemiologists, medical historians and genre of novelists who make it their life’s work to imagine a pandemic, focusing on future scenarios while the rest of us are preoccupied with our weekly shopping lists, getting the kids to piano lessons, or reviewing tomorrow’s meeting agenda.

Now we’re all imagining the future. And a lot of us are daring to hope that some things really will never be the same again – in a good way. Here in these hills, we hope the heightened sense of community, and the social and economic benefits that go with it, will continue to translate into support for local independent businesses, including local farmers, and that we will understand more than ever the intrinsic value of this green countryside where we are so privileged to live and which so many pandemic-weary others have recently discovered.

Much of this issue is devoted to these themes. It includes our annual Headwaters Farm Fresh guide to help you get to know our local food producers, as well as a story by Cecily Ross about how some of them are practising regenerative agriculture to help ensure the sustainability of not only their own acreage but also the planet itself.

On a less happy note, in “Belfountain Under Siege,” Nicola Ross issues a kind of cri de coeur about the future of her beloved home. The scenic Caledon village is increasingly encroached on by the fallout from economic and population growth in the GTA. Not the least of the village’s challenges is overwhelming tourist traffic. Belfountain has long dealt with weekend crowds, but the pandemic has exacerbated the problem exponentially – and other villages and parks in the hills are now experiencing similar inundations. We know we’re lucky here and, for the most part, we’re happy to share our blessings with others, but ideally not all at the same time and all in the same place (a phenomenon almost certainly due in part to social media), threatening to destroy the very village charm, natural open spaces and sense of tranquility most visitors are presumably seeking.

The solution will lie in part with what the tourism industry calls “destination management,” which includes the development of attractions that serve the local economy without sacrificing the essential soul of the community or the health and vitality of the natural environment. Writer Johanna Bernhardt describes just that kind of business in her tour of the dazzling new lavender and sunflower farms that have recently joined the local agricultural mix.

With luck, you’ll be entertaining visitors yourself this summer. We hope this issue will help you tell them where to go – in a good way!

About the Author More by Signe Ball

Signe Ball is publisher/editor of In The Hills.

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