As London residents bid farewell to winter’s chill and look forward to warmer, sunnier months, southern Ontario once again becomes a destination for fun and excitement in the great outdoors.
At least, that’s what members of Carolinian Canada are hoping with their event, Go Wild, Grow Wild, taking place at the Western Fair Agriplex April 18.
“It’s an outdoor show with a conservation twist,” said event planner Karen Laine. “The idea is we hope people will meet a vendor or participate in an activity that will inspire their next adventure.”
Featuring everything from trail guides and camping gear to native plants and paddleboards, organizers are ready to show off the very best southwestern Ontario has to offer in the great outdoors.
“In this region we can go zip-lining, river rafting, rock climbing or hiking,” said Laine. “Some of the best birding in the entire world is on Pelee Island, there’s a lot to do and explore.”
She went on to say the area is home to more diversity than any other region in Canada, containing a third of Canada’s rare and endangered species, including 150 designated species at risk.
“With this event, we’ve got two main goals,” said Laine, explaining one is to raise funds for the organization, while the other is a networking opportunity to highlight organizations across the region. “We really want to show what’s unique and special about this area, and why Carolinian works so hard towards conservation.”
No stranger to adventure herself, Laine said one of the activities she’s most looking forward to pursuing this summer is yoga on a paddleboard.
“You can appreciate the setting it’s in, and that’s sort of the connection piece. You can enjoy that beautiful lake coastline while doing it in the great outdoors, it sort of enhances the whole yoga experience.”
Founded in 1984, the Carolinian Canada Coalition is a registered charity, dedicated to protecting the Carolinian Life Zone, which stretches from Windsor to Toronto.
According to the group’s website, this is one of North America's most vibrant and fragile eco-regions.
The event will feature vendors from eco-adventure and eco-tourism businesses, as well as workshops with landscapers and native plant experts.
One of those experts will be Ben Porchuk of London, an ecologist who has developed his front yard into a showcase of native plants and trees.
“We’ll get people walking by and about nine or 10 will stop and look at some of the plants they haven’t seen before,” he said, adding the importance of native planting when it comes to helping out urban ecology, which continues to suffer. “Somewhere along the line we decided that if something is foreign, is big and flowers, then that’s what we want and there’s a little bit of competition between people to get the newest plant.”
Porchuk will be speaking on how local green thumbs can attract wildlife to their gardens, including insects and birds.
“People should come out to this event because there’s really something special underneath their noses that they most likely haven’t noticed,” he said. “There’s so many things they’ll be able to learn and it’ll really open up a new world to them. It’s something that will just be so rewarding for the whole family.”
For more information on the Go Wild, Grow Wild expo, visit www.gowildgrowwild.ca.