Canada’s Johnny Appleseed
65 years is how long the City of Toronto has owned the former nut grove established by George Hebden Corsan, now known as Echo Valley Park. The Society of Ontario Nut Growers (which I am a member of) has published fascinating details (available online) on how George’s active lifestyle and early adoption of vegetarianism and raw foods helped him recover miraculously and live a radiant 94 years. As a “Canadian Johnny Appleseed”, he has pioneered the establishment of hardy edible trees such as sweet chestnuts, walnut hybrids, hazelnuts, pawpaws, and persimmons.
Despite several decades of neglect, the City of Toronto has now realized the importance and resilience of these self-maintaining nut and fruit trees and has made some efforts to continue his legacy and nurture its next generation.
A Memorial to Malcolm (Mac) Kirk
As a fellow board member of the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy, I sought the wisdom of the late Mac Kirk. He is a determined and kind man in the few months I got to know him. His 93 years of achievement are punctuated by his tireless efforts in land conservation. From Old Baldy to Feversham Gorge to Spirit Rock (Wiarton) to Bognor Marsh to the Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre,… Mac was instrumental in preserving 22,000 acres for wild nature! If you enjoyed the forests of Grey-Bruce, we likely have our friend Mac Kirk to thank.
As a (agro)forestry professional, Mac also leaves behind his backyard legacy which includes an American chestnut hybrid, and his deliciously prized pawpaws. He offered me a pawpaw sapling before his passing, and I can think of no better place to transplant to than to commemorate him at the new Beaver Valley Community School edible forest garden.
Perhaps the longevity and vitality of people such as Minnie (see Local Persian Walnuts Eden), Mac Kirk, and George suggests there is something deeply nourishing in the diets, mindsets, and outlooks of these fellow nut growers and connoisseurs.