A significant event in the development of North Grenville, and the entire Province of Ontario, took place at the Ferguson Forest Centre [FFC] last week. To make a new partnership between private industry and not-for-profit initiatives on the environment, Canopy Growth, one of the major forces in the cannabis industry in Canada, donated $100,000 to Forest Ontario and the FFC as part of the campaign to plant millions of trees in the province following the cancellation by the government of the 50 Million Tree Program. And a particularly positive aspect of this new arrangement is that it was our local M.P.P., and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, who brought the parties together.

Attending a cheque presentation ceremony at the FFC, Canopy Growth CEO Mark Zekulin thanked Steve for his initiative, and commented on how happy he was to work with Forests Ontario and the FFC.

“I am blown away by what Forests Ontario has been able to accomplish since 2008. The progress they have made towards planting 50 million trees across the province is truly astounding”, he said. “We definitely connect with Forest Ontario’s mission and the way they look beyond the number of trees to the greater good they do to this province and across Canada.”

He pointed out that Canopy Growth and their new partners had a lot in common, because both parties know a lot about growing, and how complex a process it was to grow from seed on such a large scale.

Forests Ontario CEO, Rob Keen, expressed his amazement to see groups, corporations and organizations with common visions come together. He, too, thanked Steve for bringing the partnership together, and emphasised the importance of the work this partnership would promote.

“Our mission at Forests Ontario is to be the voice of Ontario’s forests by supporting forest restoration, stewardship, education and awareness.”

Tree planting is essential, Rob said. We need at least 40% tree cover to make our environment sustainable. It is as low as 4% in some places in Ontario now. He spoke of the long standing partnership his organisation has with Ed Patchell and the FFC, and the important work done there. The world now recognises the need to plant a trillion trees to protect the planet, he said. Trees sequester carbon, clean the air and water, provide habitat for wildlife, and raw material for wood products. They are a vital part of our economic and environmental health.

Steve Clark thanked Canopy for “demonstrating what tremendous corporate citizens can do”. He noted the company has provided an incredible economic boost to the region and has been an outstanding community partner. He repeated what he has said on many occasions, that the FFC is a hidden jewel in our region.

“The Nursery and the Forest Centre are truly enhancing the quality of life for residents in NG”, he said, reminding those present that it is named after G. Howard Ferguson, native son of Kemptville and Premier of Ontario.

“I wanted to foster partnerships that would enable the sustainability of our beloved FFC. Partnerships that would help us address climate change by planting millions of trees in eastern Ontario, and I am so pleased that those partnerships have borne fruit.”


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