On a grey, drizzly Saturday morning in early May, a group of volunteers met at St. John’s-by-the-Lake Anglican Church to prepare for Lakeshore Eco-Network’s annual spring tree sale. Long before the official start time of 9:30, the customers arrived, eager to choose their native trees and get planting. By 10:30 a.m., all 150 trees were sold!
There’s no question that people in the Grand Bend area love their trees. When a tornado ripped through the area in July 2014, taking down hundreds of trees, Grand Bend Community Foundation saw a need to support replanting. The 5000 Trees Project was born. Since then, some 3000 native trees have been sold and planted through its efforts.
In the process, the Lakeshore Eco-Network (LEN) was formed. “The tree sales are still at the heart of what we do,” says President Max Morden. “But our mandate is broader now – we are also working to steward the existing natural areas in our region and raise awareness around issues of biodiversity and climate change.”
In May 2017, LEN held the Ausable Heritage Tree Festival, a Canada 150 event. The Festival featured music, food, a birds of prey show, a chainsaw carver, displays and exhibits, live snakes and turtles, and a variety of children’s activities. At the same time, the West Coast Lions Club sold native trees, and a group of hard-working volunteers planted a 300-foot native garden at Klondyke sports field.
Then in September, LEN hosted Gord Miller, former Environment Commissioner for Ontario, for a presentation on adapting to climate change. Climate change was also on the agenda in April 2018, when LEN hosted a screening of the Al Gore documentary An Inconvenient Sequel. Later in May, LEN renovated and enhanced the Klondyke planting.
Says Morden, “Thanks to Grand Bend Community Foundation and other funders, we’ve been able to reach out to our community and encourage more people to think about the tough environmental challenges we face. It really is all about thinking global and acting local.”