‘It All Just Stemmed From Having My Feet in the Dirt’

Andrea Connell passionate about permaculture, Transition Town

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While tending to her own herb farm and welcoming visitors to her property, Andrea Connell saw a connection sprout between her land and its neighbours.

Like her dry soil, community members were thirsty for better health and the opportunity to grow.

After recognizing that metaphor, Andrea’s passion for permaculture — the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient — blossomed into a lifelong venture to help build a community rooted in environmental and economic resilience.

So, two years ago, it naturally made sense for her to move to Peterborough, since the city is a recognized Transition Town (TT).

TT is a worldwide movement encompassing grassroots community projects that aim to increase self-sufficiency to reduce the potential effects of peak oil, climate destruction, and economic instability.

“Through the development of the land and creating this herb farm and these gardens, we started to notice the connection between people and their need to be able to transform what within themselves was arid, not growing and stagnant, into something that was full of vitality and life.”

In Peterborough, TT’s overarching mission is to adapt to the effects of climate change in Peterborough City and County, Hiawatha First Nation and Curve Lake First Nation.

Transition Town Peterborough (TTP) is working to make the city more environmentally and economically resilient, resourceful, self-sufficient and less dependent on damaging fossil fuels in the essentials of life — food, water, energy, culture and wellness.

An upcoming event, Resilient Peterborough 2030, will bring together three of those essential pillars for sustainability into one conversation.

Meanwhile, in this conversation, Andrea speaks with Electric City Magazine about her involvement in permaculture and TTP.

Her story truly began 25 years ago in that herb garden in Millgrove, a small, rural community located between Hamilton and Guelph.

“I noticed people were fundamentally unhappy, unhealthy and unwell and they didn’t know what to do about it,” Andrea says.

“Because of the circumstances of the land — it was poor property, there was no water, there was no shade and no topsoil — we had to turn to permaculture principles to make it work. Through the development of the land and creating this herb farm and these gardens, we started to notice the connection between people and their need to be able to transform what within themselves was arid, not growing and stagnant, into something that was full of vitality and life,” Andrea says.

“It all just stemmed from having my feet in the dirt.”

In Peterborough, Andrea’s involvement in TT encompasses organizing special festivals and events to celebrate local food, culture, wellness and green energy. The so-called “Transitioners” share ideas and promote the importance of climate-conscious living. They lobby governments to consider green policies and plans that support environmental sustainability.

For Andrea, TT was a key motivator for her to move to the Kawarthas.

TTP-initiatives-1“I wanted to live somewhere that was committed to creating positive change in the world,” Andrea said in a column published by The Peterborough Examiner after she moved to the community.

“I soon discovered that Peterborough was the first registered Transition Town in Canada and had just celebrated its 10th year with the global movement (in 2017).”

TTP’s efforts focus on supporting local food and farmers and promote the concept of buying locally.

With its own currency, Peterborough’s Kawartha Loon trades on par with the Canadian dollar and can be used locally at 150 merchants.

Transitioners work together with many local organizations, committees, and businesses to make things happen.

TTP also publishes a Greenzine and is involved in a Local Food Month, a Purple Onion Festival, a Dandelion Day and other events and initiatives.

For more information about getting involved and/or to learn more about TTP, click here.

TTP is a not-for-profit, all-volunteer, non-political organization and part of a worldwide TT movement established in 2005 that now exists in more than 50 countries in more than 1,400 communities.

Related Story:

‘We Can Become a Very Resilient Community’

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