Field Notes for Autumn 2021

Where to shop, donate, walk this season.

September 24, 2021 | | Field Notes

Courtesy Dufferin Seeds.

Education goes outdoors

After a long year of isolation and uncertainty for most schoolkids, it’s never been a better time for more specialized educational programs to hold class in the great outdoors. The goal? To empower kids to learn about caring for themselves, each other, and the planet we call home. Many longtime local educators are behind the exciting new programming — some of which require parents and caregivers to talk to their child’s school about taking time off if a program is during school hours. A more pressing issue might be that we’ll all want to skip work and join them. Here’s a selection:

Dufferin SEEDS Mulmur: Jeanette McFarlane is trying to “grow better humans” on her century farm by offering educational and experiential programs. Jeanette uses a “touch, taste and create” formula in which children learn about growing food, harvesting and food preparation. SEEDS is a private program for now, but Jeanette is hoping to one day be involved directly with schools. She is currently working out the details of her fall program, but the dates will likely be September 13 to October 8 (Term 1) and October 18 to December 20 (Term 2). Jeanette is also the owner and creator behind Dufferin County Goods Co., an online shop showcasing her Canadian-made wearables inspired by local history (see one of her hats in our Local Buys).

Ekta School near Orangeville: This pilot program was created by two Orangeville teachers, Michele Johnston and Kim Ellis, to help children develop their “inner curriculum” via expressive arts, creativity and outdoor experiences. “We want to help children deepen their connection with their inner wisdom, and also learn how to embrace and navigate the full spectrum of emotions,” Kim says. Children will explore journalling, mindfulness and movement to forge a deeper relationship with the natural world. This is a supplemental program to traditional school with the option of attending Monday or Friday afternoons for kids ages 8 to 12.

Fiddlehead Care Farm Mono: This 50-acre farm offers something for everyone, from therapeutic programs for children and youth with unique needs, to family programs and school field trips. Each program is created with a focus on healing, horticulture and animal-assisted care farming. A particular favourite among families is the eight-week Parent and Tot Farm and Nature Early Learning series, offering wee ones the chance to explore the forest and gardens, and help take care of friendly farm animals. Note: This one fills up fast!

Fall arts pick

Ready for a laugh? Theatre Orangeville is showcasing the classic romantic comedy Same Time, Next Year which follows the hilarious and touching story of Doris and George through their 25-year love affair. The show runs from October 13 to 31. (For more Theatre Orangeville news, see page 70.)

Save the dates

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: As we continue learning more about the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, and ensuring this history is never forgotten, the Canadian government has declared that starting this year and ongoing, September 30 will be a federal statutory holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day provides an opportunity for federal public servants to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools. The day can also be a day of quiet reflection and there may be local community events.

Walk with Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle: DCCRC is holding a National Day of Action walk on October 4  in memory of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. For more info on where and when visit,


Spotlight: Ontario Farmland Trust

According to the 2016 Census of Agriculture, 175 acres of Ontario farmland are converted to other uses every day. In the last 40 years, the province lost 18 per cent of its precious farmland, leading concerned citizens to contemplate whether we will be able to grow enough food to feed future generations. It may sound grim, but the Ontario Farmland Trust is on a mission to create a future where Ontario’s agricultural lands are permanently protected through community engagement, sound policies and partnerships.

The OFT, an organization of farmers, researchers, planners and conservationists, relies on private donations and memberships to achieve their goals of protecting agricultural and natural areas of Ontario. OFT also holds an annual Farmland Forum where they bring together policymakers, farmers, planners and conservationists to discuss new ways to protect Ontario land.

Through farmland easement agreements, OFT has already protected over 1,600 acres of farmland as well as 15 provincially listed at-risk species since its founding in 2004. We think that’s reason to celebrate. Consider learning more or donating at

Mark your calendar: Have you visited a Mom Market yet?

The Mom Market is a national collective of women operating curated weekly markets in their own neighbourhoods at cool settings including lavender farms, event barns and country general stores. The Orangeville/Caledon Market is run by Orangeville’s Melissa Shea, who is mom to three-year-old Madison and five-month-old Henry. She says the markets are a way for local mothers to showcase their small businesses and products, such as artisanal clothing and mouthwatering baked goods, in their community. Each event supports a different local charity. (They recently raised $1,500 for Family Transition Place in Orangeville.)

If you need another reason to get out of the house, Melissa says the first 25 people to show up receive a swag bag with loads of goodies from participating vendors. Bringing the kids? Each market includes a special appearance by a princess (Elsa anyone?) from Markham’s Crown Me Princess. Admission is free, but charitable donations are encouraged when possible.

Upcoming markets in Headwaters include Trick or Treat Yourself at Hockley Valley Farm on October 31, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with 50 vendors. Proceeds go to the Orangeville Food Bank. Kids are encouraged to come in costume and trick or treat at each vendor. At the same location on November 13, the Mingle and Jingle Holiday Market will have 40 vendors outside and up to 10 in the barn, along with carriage rides (public health situation willing). See The Mom Market on Facebook for other dates.

Our kinda YouTuber

Now this is screen time we can get on board with. When Covid hit, retired early childhood education teacher Diana Hollister wanted to help her students through a challenging time. A natural storyteller, Diana began creating videos for children with the help of puppets Jamal and Abigail. Her videos (think Robert Munsch meets Mary Poppins) encourage play-based learning using songs, stories, props, and plenty of imagination. You can subscribe to her channel on YouTube at Diana Hollister.


About the Author More by Johanna Bernhardt

Writer and dancer Johanna Bernhardt lives in Orangeville.

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