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Healthy living takes center-stage

April marks the fifth-annual Healthy Communities Month in Woolwich, and there is a full slate of activities scheduled to help residents get out and enjoy the spring air and to realize just how much the region has to offer. “The goals are to work towards enhancing the social, economic, and environmental well-being of Woolwich Township, and so we’ve planned a real range of activities to really respond to all three,” said Joy Finney of Woolwich Healthy Communities, one of the countless organizers of the event.
The month kicks off with a free screening of the movie “Fresh” Apr. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Trinity United Church in Elmira. The film celebrates farmers, thinkers and business across America who are working to re-invent the food system by moving away from the industrial model that has led to food contamination, environmental pollution and the depletion of natural resources.

“The movie night is really trying to increase people’s awareness of the issues that farmers are facing, and trying to be supportive of our local farming community,” explained Finney. “In the Region of Waterloo, farming contributes to one in every four jobs, so it’s really important that we maintain a sustainable local farming community.”

The next day, April 10, there is a hike along the Hopewell Trail in Breslau from 2 to 4 p.m. in an effort to get people out to enjoy the fresh air and scenic areas of Breslau with Lisa and Mark Bauman.

GOING LOCAL Doug Pagett, the owner of Foodland in Elmira, is a strong supporter of local food and will be one of the speakers at this year’s A Taste of Woolwich event on Apr. 18.

On Apr. 16 one of the biggest events of the month will take place, the Green Living and Tech Fair, which will be held at the St. Jacobs arena. The show will run from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and includes workshops on energy-saving tips like how to shrink your electricity bill and whether or not solar panels are appropriate for your home.

Visitors will have the opportunity to meet up to 40 vendors to discuss green energy, water-saving techniques, and how to become greener citizens of the township.

“It just feels that at a time when it is so challenging for us to sort out our energy usage – whether coming from nuclear or fossil fuels or coal – this is a real opportunity for people to get some ideas about what they can do so we can reduce our reliance on those forms of energy,” said Finney.

Admission to the fair is free, and there will also be bus tours from the arena in St. Jacobs to REEP house in Kitchener, a completely renovated century home that highlights some of the best and brightest alternative energy resources available. Tours start at 1 p.m. and take nearly two hours to complete. Admission to REEP is also free.

On Apr. 18, people throughout the community will have the opportunity to connect with Woolwich farm producers in an informal atmosphere through A Taste of Woolwich at Calvary United Church in St. Jacobs.

Nearly 500 people attended last years event, which runs from 5 to 8 p.m., and this year’s program includes chef demonstrations on everything from preserving and jams and jellies to local bread and savoury samples from local restaurants, as well as the opportunity to interact with food producers in the region.

Doug Pagett, the owner of Foodland in Elmira, will also be there to discuss his store’s role in promoting local food to customers. For the past four-and-a-half years, Pagett has purchased much of Foodland Elmira’s produce from the Elmira Produce Auction Cooperative in town during the spring and summer months, and he says that he has gotten tremendous feedback.

“We buy from there two to three times a week: potatoes, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers – whatever is local and in-season,” he said. “It makes good business sense and helps (farmers) out as well.”

The live auction runs from May to October, and growers within a 75-km radius of Elmira are invited to sell, and their goal is to increase family farm revenue and to help consumers recognize the importance of buying local.

Pagett, along with John McVicar with the Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable, will lead into a discussion of how other retailers can be influenced to join the local food movement. Admission to A Taste of Woolwich is only $2 per adult.

Another successful event is the second-annual Try-A-Tri, scheduled for May 1 at the WMC. Participants in this non-competitive, untimed triathlon will swim 10 laps of the pool, bike 10 kilometers, and run 10 laps of the track.

The triathlon was the idea of Coun. Mark Bauman last year, and with 120 participants in 2010 ranging from three-and-a-half to 80 years old, it was a huge success.

“Its purpose is two-fold,” said Bauman. “First of all, healthy communities month means getting people active, and so it was designed for people like me who aren’t runners, swimmers, bikers but participate a little bit, so it’s something that pretty near anyone of any ability can participate in.

“And the second goal was to raise money, because Woolwich Healthy Communities works on a shoestring budget, so there’s a participation fee but that fee is reimbursed if you get $75 or more in pledges.”

Participants can go solo, or as a part of a team. The entry fee is $20 for adults (or relay team), $10 for youth aged 15-17, and free for those 14 and under – sponsored by the St. Jacobs optimist club.

For more information about these, or any other events scheduled for Healthy Communities Month in Woolwich, visit their website at www.healthywoolwich.org.

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