The IPM a year later

September 29, 2008

An event the size of the International Plowing Match inevitably changes everything and everyone it touches.  After a year the landscape around Young’s Hill has returned to normal, but it’s a different normal than before. The fields are tilled with pride.  The fencerows and buildings around Forfar are tidier.  The improvement cut and new trails in the woodlot have given it a park-like aspect.  I notice that no one has bothered to close the gaps in the fences opened for the match.

Bob Chant and I were talking a few weeks ago about how little damage occurred as a result of the traffic in our fields.  It turns out we would both be delighted to have the match back again another time.

Rob and Connie Prosser, Jan Bonhomme, and the huge crew of volunteers deserve our respect for the way they selflessly contributed their time, money and equipment to make IPM 2007 the greatest event ever held in Leeds County.

From The Walnut Diary, September 24, 2007

Credit for the best one-liner I’ve heard over the past week goes to my friend Kate Stutzman, who drove up from Reading, Pennsylvania with husband Tom to attend the event. After seven hours on the road they rounded the turn at Crosby and gaped at the enormous IPM Site. Kate turned to Tom and said, “The world has come to Rod.”

It looks as though IPM 2007 has been a smashing success. Certainly the woodlot and the conservation areas received a lot of attention, with 1764 visitors registered for the tours.  We had expected 200.

Neil Thomas and I noticed that visitors to his walnut-cracking display seemed increasingly well informed and interested in growing and using edible nuts.  Canadians spend $20 million on imported nuts every year and virtually none on the domestic product. Neil plans to change that by making the black walnut the home-grown gourmet nut meat of choice. The many visitors who sampled his product seemed to agree that this could work.

Leeds Stewardship Coordinator Martin Streit and Eastern Ontario Model Forest Certification Coordinator Scott Davis did the lion’s share of the tour-conducting in the woodlot. Martin was the first there and the last to leave on each of the five days – on top of a two-hour drive to Cornwall, morning and night. Garnet Baker endured blazing sun and dust on the gate all week until he had to take Saturday off for a religious holiday – opening day of duck season.  Except for an hour trapped in a traffic jam outside Elgin, Jane Topping held the fort with Garnet all week in the heat, organizing woodlot tours and keeping order at the departure gate. George Sheffield and Dwayne Struthers did everything schedule-organizer Rhonda Elliot asked. This usually meant driving the tractor for the wagon tour, but when the crowds grew too heavy they easily slipped into the role of tour guide, delivering lectures to groups on walking tours.

As she had been for the two years of the project, Donna O’Connor was everywhere all week, doing the heaviest of the work, cajoling and inspiring to move things along.  The only time I’ve ever seen her baulk was when the starter on my old Massey refused to work and she had to crank the engine in front of a wagon load of visitors.  Once was enough, so Lloyd Stone replaced the antique tractor with a quiet member of his fleet.

Lloyd probably got less sleep than anyone in the Forfar area over the week. Nursing fifty teams of draft horses and their owners by night and early morning, then driving the tour wagon and fixing and storing equipment must have left him a little ragged by Saturday evening. But he got it done.

Today Rhonda Eliot was still in full work-mode, with son Daniel and daughter Becca in tow.  Signs came down and straw was hauled away in a frenzy of activity.

The Croskery Woodlot display was a project of the Leeds Stewardship Council.  Its success shows the depth of commitment of this group to the good of the community and the environment.

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