Scott Forbes and Dawn Forbes have been involved in providing a wide range of products to help people and organizations with mobility needs for years. They worked for five years, with partners, as Goldline Mobility and Conversions, but have now opened their own independent business, Berg Elevating, in a brand new location at the Harrowsmith Plaza (next to the new L&A Mutual Insurance Office) off Road 38.
Their office includes a reception and showroom area and a large shop where they are able to do van conversions and still have storage space available.
“Scott has been doing this kind of work for 30 years,” said Dawn at the opening celebration and ribbon cutting last week, which took place on December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Berg Elevating Repairs and General Services does a lot more than van conversions. They sell, install and maintain lifts, ramps and elevators for home and commercial use, and provide wheelchairs, handrails and dozens of other products for clients throughout Eastern Ontario.
Because of their history and experience, Berg Elevating is a very busy start-up company. They already employ three technicians and travel across the region to satisfy an ever-expanding demand for their services.
They were joined at their opening by Michelle Parmenter Smith and her team at All-In, a one-year-old company that works to help those with mobility impairment access supports, equipment and services, and also provides case management and peer support.
“I've worked with Dawn and Scott for years,” said Michelle Parmenter Smith. “They are good at what they do, very good, and they are committed to this community. This is more than a business for them.”
Farmers gathered November 9 at Long Road Eco Farm near Harrowsmith for a year-end farm tour, with a cooking class, potluck lunch and open stage variety show. The event wrapped up the eastern Ontario CRAFT's (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) season of on-farm educational opportunities, which included tours as far north as Maberly (Ravenfield farm), with visits to farms in Inverary (Edible Forest), Battersea (Patchwork Gardens) and into Kingston Township (Farewell Farm), among others.
The CRAFT chapter is seated in Kingston, but welcomes farmers from as far as are willing to travel to a given tour. Monday's event drew farmers from as far west as Prince Edward County, and as far north as Jasper, as well as the many more that came from within the Kingston area.
Ontario currently has two chapters: one in eastern Ontario and another serving mainly the southwest. While the latter has focused its efforts towards facilitating internship opportunities in its network of farms, the east has focused more on education in the form of farm tours and workshops. Farmers benefit from learning from other farmers with similar challenges and values (most member farmers are either organic or ecologically-focused).
The season-ending party coincided with a slowing workload on many farms as field production wanes for the season. Around 20 people attended, and participants learned how to make Chinese dumplings and steamed buns in a workshop led by local farmer and food vendor Xiaobing Shen. After a late-morning tour of the farm, attendees enjoyed lunch and music by several talented farmers, as well as guest performance by Kingston-based singer-songwriter David Parker, who performed songs from his most recent CD release, "Calm Me Down".
The 22nd annual installment of the Roberta Struthers Craft and Bake sale attracted hundreds of shoppers to the Golden Links Hall in Harrowsmith on November 14. The event, which is sponsored by the local Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, is named in memory of Roberta Struthers, a long time Rebekkah who initiated the sale as a fundraiser for the local Golden Links hall. Struthers passed away in 2006 and the event has been carried on ever since. The sale included loads of home made baked goods and a wide range of gift and hand crafted items from 26 vendors, with a portion of the proceeds helping to pay the costs to keep the community hall up and running. A raffle was held for a number of items donated by vendors, individuals and businesses in and around the local community. New to the sale this year were Elaine Peterson and Walter Busse, owners of Bee Happy Honey of Gananoque, who had a “sweet” display of their products up for grabs. The two run over 200 hives and have been making honey for decades. They just recently started selling their products locally at various markets. The annual event included a lunch, and shoppers who attended no doubt made a sizable dent in their gift giving lists for the holiday season.
Members of the congregation of St. Paul's United Church in Harrowsmith held their annual Country Crafts sale on November 14, with many of the proceeds going to the Verona Community Association's Christmas For Kids program. The program, with the help of parents and students at Harrowsmith Public School, provides Christmas gift baskets for children and families in need in the local community. The funds raised at the event are also used to support the church's own Christmas hamper program. A total of 22 vendors took part in the sale and the event also included a basket draw for a number of gift baskets and other items donated by individuals and businesses from the local community. Many young participants in the Sunday school program at St. Paul's also took part in the event and were selling a number of holiday gift items to raise funds for Christmas For Kids. Volunteers from the congregation served up a delicious chili lunch to hungry shoppers. Marni Pedersen, who helps to organize the fundraiser, said she was pleased with the turn out for the annual event, which has been taking place for over 15 years.
On November 6, Rick Walters, president of Lennox and Addington Mutual Insurance, was beaming at the official ribbon cutting celebration for the opening of the company's first ever satellite office, which is located in the Harrowsmith Plaza.
L& A Mutual board members, along with staff from the new branch and the company's head office in Napanee, were joined by dignitaries and members of the local business community to celebrate this milestone for a business that has been serving rural property owners for close to 14 decades. L&A Mutual first opened its doors in 1876.
The company’s six-member board of directors all have an agricultural background.
Rick Walters said the company chose Harrowsmith as the location for their first branch office not only to help serve their existing customers in Frontenac County but also to generate some new business in the area. Walters said that when looking for a new location, it was the Harrowsmith Plaza, the new hub of business activity in the local community that made the perfect fit. “We chose Harrowsmith because we wanted to commit to our customers in Frontenac County and are moving forward by continuing to take care of future rural customers, who are our niche. We do business online but still find that a lot of our customers like to be able to shake hands and talk one on one with staff, and with this new office we can accommodate that.”
After giving a brief history of the company, Walters updated guests on the 140-year-old business, which now offers its clients farm, homeowner's and small commercial, as well as auto insurance. He said he is hoping that by this spring the company will be able to offer a recreational dwelling package as well. Currently staff at L& A Mutual are looking into offering aviation insurance with the hopes of insuring the commercial use of drones. Walters then thanked a number of individuals and companies, including the board of directors who committed the necessary dollars to open the new branch; Ann Prichard of the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation; and Walters' wife Susi, who supplied the artwork that decorates the new branch.
Mayor of South Frontenac, Ron Vandewal, who was in attendance along with Deputy Mayor John McDougall, also spoke at the event and welcomed the new business, congratulating staff on their expansion with the words, “ A business that has lasted 140 years is obviously doing something right.” Ann Prichard, executive director of the FCFDC, who helped organize and promote the event, said she was thrilled to be able to welcome a new business to the community. Following the ribbon cutting, guests enjoyed a light lunch and other refreshments courtesy of Desert Lake Gardens of Sydenham. The new branch office is located at 5062 Road 38 in Harrowsmith and is open Monday to Thursday from 8:30 am-4:30 pm; Fridays from 8am- 4pm. For more information call the office at 613-372-2980 or visit
Twelve members from the Sydenham and Verona Lions clubs and three volunteers recently completed vision and hearing screening of approximately 200 senior kindergarten and Grade 1 students at Harrowsmith, Loughborough, and Prince Charles Public Schools, and St. Patrick’s Catholic School.
For the past eight years, the local Lions clubs have conducted this screening of the youngest students at the start of the school year in order to detect any vision or hearing issues early. It is estimated that one in six children has a vision problem. For young students, to optimize their learning and school experience, it is critical that vision and hearing issues are detected early.
The vision screening consists of three fun visual stations that check both eyes for distance, depth perception and alignment. Hearing is screened with a sound test of both ears. The child wears headphones and is asked at increasingly lower audio levels to point to various pictures.
The results from both screening tests are sent home to the child’s parents/caregivers the same day. If the child’s results fall below the prescribed level, a recommendation is made that the child have a complete examination by a vision or hearing specialist. Parents are reminded that annual eye examinations for school-aged children by a vision specialist are covered by OHIP.
The Lions screening program is free. The expensive vision and hearing equipment was purchased by the Lions with community fund raising and is circulated to various Lions clubs to conduct screening at more than 50 local schools.
While most of the Lions screening volunteers are retired, the younger volunteers juggle their work schedules to be available for the school day screenings. Many of the Lions are grandparents who themselves have vision and hearing issues and have personal stories of struggling in school due to those problems. They understand first hand the importance of correcting vision and hearing issues early.
Lennox and Addington Mutual Insurance was established in 1876 after a meeting of farmers that was held in the Village of Newburgh. The farmers were unable to obtain fire insurance from companies based in urban centres so they set up their own mutual insurance corporation.
One hundred and forty years later, the need for an insurer specializing in the needs of rural property owners has not abated, and while a number of similar sized companies in Eastern Ontario have merged, L&A Mutual continues to thrive on its own, so much so that they have opened a new Frontenac County office in the Harrowsmith Plaza.
Rick Walters is the current president of the company. He succeeded his father with the company, so, as he says, he is pretty familiar with the community of Napanee where L&A Mutual is based and with the company as well. He is also one of the directors of the Canadian Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.
While it was fire and livestock insurance that was the basis of L&A Mutual Insurance's original business, the company has since expanded its insurance offerings for rural property owners whether they farm their properties or not.
Products include farm owner packages, homeowner packages, condominium unit owner packages, small commercial packages, yacht packages and automobile insurance.
Rick Walters said that L&A Mutual has developed a strong client base in Frontenac County over the years, and by establishing an office in the township it will be more convenient for the three agents who work with the company in Frontenac County to meet with existing clients. The agents are Sally Blasko - Inverary, Brian Powley - Hartington, and Nikole Walters - Harrowsmith. The new office will help attract new clients as well
L&A Mutual Insurance Company will be officially opening the branch office in the Harrowsmith Plaza on Friday, November 6. The official opening will take place from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony taking place at 11:00 a.m. Refreshments will be served after the ribbon cutting.
On October 15, students at Harrowsmith Public School had a chance to experience first hand what it means to engage in the democratic process as they participated in the school's first ever Student Vote program. Students in Ms. Thayer's and Ms. Ranson's grade 4/5 classes took the lead in implementing the program and over 175 students in grade four and higher had a chance to cast their ballots for their party of choice in the riding of Lanark Frontenac Kingston.
Through the process the students gained an understanding of the country's three levels of government, its four major political parties, and how each party's platform differed in the 2015 federal election campaign.
Ms. Thayer said that the program ties in nicely with the social studies curriculum for the lead students, who are studying government and the democratic process. The aim of the lead students was to convince their fellow students that their chosen party had the strategies and policies that would best serve and benefit Canadians. Ms. Thayer said the focus was on the four major political parties and their platforms rather than the individual candidates running in the riding.
Lead students were invited first to research the platforms and to chose the party they most wanted to represent. They learned about numerous issues including the Syrian refugee crisis, the state of the economy, the environment, health care and more. Students were also instructed how to use various forms of media in order to get their information across to their fellow voters as well as to think critically about the media they were researching. The students gained a whole new vocabulary and awareness of the political process and you can bet that there were some very interesting conversations taking place throughout the school on voting day. After choosing their party, the students made numerous presentations to their fellow students and were also in charge of running and officiating at the ballot stations.
I spoke to two students, Emma Aitken and Noah McDougall, who were respectively campaigning for the Conservative and NDP parties. Emma said that she chose to campaign for the Conservative party because she “felt that Stephen Harper over the years did a good job in keeping Canadians safe”. She added that prior to this program she “did not know very much about politics”, but said that now she feels that she has become much more interested in the topic.
Noah said he chose the NDP because he felt “it was time to take a break from Stephen Harper and see what it would be like without him”. He also liked the NDP's stance on hand guns and their goals to create more affordable health care and housing.
Asked what qualities they feel a prime minister needs to run the country, Noah replied, “being enthusiastic about what they will do for the country, not being grumpy and caring about what things might be going wrong for people”.
Emma said that “being bilingual, not backing out of promises and helping other people in the world” are all important.
The results from the Student Vote Program are in and the Liberals won in a landslide with 67%, (225.8 seats), Conservatives, 20% (67.4seats), the NDP, 12% (40.44 seats) and the Green party 1% or 3.37 seats. As in the past the results reflect the decision of Canadian voters. By the end of the day students at HPS were not only well informed but were also thrilled to be able to have their say in the 2015 federal election.
B.J. Calver, who heads up the local and international missions program at the Harrowsmith Free Methodist Church, was thrilled with the turn out at the church's annual Fall Fair on October 17. The event attracted hundreds of shoppers and included close to 50 local vendors, who were offering up everything from hand made crafts, comestibles and a wide range of gift ware. Organizers also offered visitors a huge bake sale table, fresh funnel cakes, and a Chili Plus Cafe, with all the food proceeds funding the HFMC's Community Assistance Program (CAP).
The CAP program offers financial assistance to members of the local community in need of food, heat, and emergency relief due to fire. CAP also funds the church's Christmas Hamper Program and through its partnership with Southern Frontenac Community Services also provides emergency food vouchers and other financial relief to local families in need. Calver and her husband Ray, who have been doing voluntary mission work in the Dominican Republic for close to 20 years, have through their partnership with the HFMC been able to build a church and school in Barrio Tona, a town just outside of Porta Plata in the Dominican Republic.
Shoppers who attended this year's sale were intrigued with the plethora of unique items for sale and new and notable this year were Miche purses and Birkenstock foot ware. Other first time vendors included Orna-Metal metal art, and Boutique Originals, who sell a wide array of primitive recycled Christmas crafts. Calver said that she was hoping to exceed the $2600 in donations raised at last year's event and judging by the turn out, it looked as though that hope could easily become a reality.
This article is prepared by X.B. Shen of Long Road Ecological Farm and is a part of its “Farm Sum” series. www.facebook.com/farmsum.
We invite friends over to our farm from time to time and usually we make a Chinese peasant-style meal with abundant vegetables from our garden. Impressed by how delicious the food is, our friends may still not dare to make their own, even though I tell them stir-frying is really simple. I hope this article will uncover the myths of Chinese peasant-style stir-fry; it turns out there is no mystery at all – no complex sauces or hard-to-master technique.
Chinese peasant-style stir-fry requires very little preparation and few ingredients. Besides what's available in the garden, you only need a bit of oil, salt, and water (yes, water). Garlic, green onion, soy sauce are a plus, but not necessary. Each vegetable has its own pleasant flavour, and Chinese peasants like to preserve this flavour by not using too much or too strong spices and seasonings.
Here is a recipe for a delicious stir-fry potato dish:
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil (or any vegetable oil)
- 2 large chieftain potatoes (red skin, crunchy), sliced to sticks, like french fries, thickness varies, the thinner the better and less cooking time. Keep skin if organically-grown
- 1 bell pepper, or two hot peppers, seeds removed, cut to sticks
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 1/3 teaspoon of salt or less
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon of soya sauce
1. Heat the frying pan, add oil and garlic, stir a few seconds, and then add peppers, stir the pepper and cook for about half a minute
2. Add potatoes. Stir and add salt, and a few tablespoons of water to avoid burning at the bottom.
3. Cover with lid and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring often. Add a bit more water if it drys up.
4. Add green onion and soya sauce, and give it a good mixing before putting it in a plate or large bowl.
Eat with rice or as a replacement for salad/mashed potato in a steak meal. The key to this dish is that you want to keep the crunchiness of the potato by not overcooking it.
A variation of this dish is to add a bit of chopped pork. You will need to prepare the pork first. Chop the pork into small pieces, fry it with cooking oil and thinly-sliced ginger. Once the colour of the pork changes, add salt, continue to stir for a minute or two, and then remove from pan and put in a lidded container.
We usually prepare one pound of pork every time. When we make a vegetable dish, we add some of the pre-cooked pork when the vegetable is about half done. One pound of pork can last for a few days. You
will appreciate the pork from a good source. When pork is good, it is juicy and flavourful even if you don't add any sauce. Bad pork is dry and flavourless, and loses water when being stir-fried.
You can apply the same method to cooking fresh beans, zucchini, summer squash, celery, daikon radish, the stems of greens (such as bok choy, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage, etc). The cooking time varies with different vegetables.