The wind and rain did little to dampen the resolve of upwards of 28,000 people who made the trek yesterday to the tiny hamlet of Melancthon, just outside of Orangeville to gather at Foodstock. Close to 100 chefs from across Canada were on hand, donating their time and talent to protest the Melancthon Quarry with the best weapons at their disposal; a rich and diverse offering of food reflecting the gifts that our land produces.
Area chefs Jamie Kennedy of Gilead Cafe, Matty Matheson of Parts & Labour, Albert Ponzo of Le Select, Alexandra Feswick of Brockton General, Graham Pratt of the Gabardine and Rodney Bowers of Hey Meatball were among the many chefs on hand cooking, serving and actively showing support for local food and demonstrating against the massive dig.
“It really shows that we are not just by ourselves thinking about this quarry,” says Stadtländer, who started the Foodstock ball rolling and is the man behind the event. “The decision makers must see there is a lot of resistance and people care about land and water. We are standing united and support our farmers,” he said. “When we stand up we can actually do something.”
Held directly across the road from the proposed quarry, the event took place on Adam Black’s property. Black’s family has been farming the land next to the site for three generations and refused to sell to the quarry developers, an American company called Highland which is planning to excavate the limestone under the water table.
In order to access the billion tonnes of rock they’ll have to pump an estimated 600 million litres of water from the area every day.
The quarry lands are to stretch five kilometre across and plunge 200 feet down and will become the largest quarry in Canada. A “mega quarry” is defined as having a rock reserve of at least 150 million tones; the Highland reserve has one billion tonnes, part of a six-billion-tonne deposit. The “mega quarry” is slated to irreversibly destroy this prime farmland north of Orangeville, 1/3 the size of downtown Toronto, transforming gently rolling hills and pastures into a huge rock pit, and draining the water table for the surrounding area.
The chilly fall weather made the scene all the more authentic, reminding those who attended of the relationship between the land, it’s people and the elements. A rainy autumn sky, windswept fields and the smell of the earth’s bounty being cooked on fields that feed, nurture and served to remind us; this land is your land, this land is my land. Although the overall mood was festive, with musicians ranging from Jim Cuddy to Sarah Harmer, an undercurrent of alarm was tangible, as many were unsure whether the gathering was a protest, a celebration or an Irish wake-up call, perhaps too late. The colliding clouds and limestone sky seemed to warn one and all, a storm is coming.
Watch this site for a video from the event that we’ll be posting on Wednesday. To see more pictures from the event go here or search the Foodstock hashtag (#foodstock) on twitter.