Sustain your community- here’s 4 easy ways

It’s sometimes hard to find ways to get involved to help your local community and do your part to improve sustainability, but with the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) it’s made easy!

Tree planting, one of the many opportunities you have when you volunteer with the NPCA.

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority is in charge of 39 conservation areas in the Niagara Peninsula Watershed, which covers the Niagara Region, as well as parts of the City of Hamilton and Haldimand County.

As a non-profit organization, the NPCA looks forward to new volunteers coming into the organization as more hands for large amounts of work is always a good thing. The NPCA has many different areas for volunteers to get involved in, here are just a few ways you could get involved to help the NPCA:

  1. Surveying amphibians
    This opportunity is from March-June and requires you to identify frogs and toads in one of the conservation areas and you must commit to surveying three times during the spring to early summer.
  2. Bird Surveys
    Similar to the amphibian survey, you would be identifying marsh birds in one of the conservation areas and are required to commit to  surveying two times in the spring and early summer.
  3. NPCA Ambassador
    An on-going position where you attend events in the community on behalf of the NPCA to raise awareness on programs, the conservation areas, their mission and projects they have.
  4. Member of the Yellow Fish Road Program
    In this position you would be going around the Niagara Region, and painting yellow fish next to storm drains as a symbol to help educate the public on protecting out valuable water sources.This project can be done as an individual or with a group and is weather dependent.

    Yellow Fish Road volunteers painting yellow fish to raise awareness about the importance of water sources not being polluted

There are many more opportunities, and as time goes on, you can check the NPCA website for updated opportunities.

Happy sustaining!


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Niagara Farm Project- more than just food

Over the next 25 years, the growth rate in Niagara is projected at a minimum 170,000 new residents and 80,000 new jobs, and with an expanding economy such as this, we require sustainability. Something that an organization such as Niagara Farm Project is all about.

Niagara Farm Project is a non profit organization that, “designs, builds, installs and maintains permaculture gardens for homes, schools and organizations in the Niagara Region.”

Niagara Farm Project is committed to the Niagara community, in more ways than just a helping hand. The organization is committed to teaching the community of Niagara how they too, can grow their own food. They are all about working together to get things done, and using everyones strengths to make things happen.

Part of the idea that goes along with the Niagara Farm Project is that they make fresh, local produce available to Niagara residents.

Niagara Farm Project holds get togethers and events such as the “Meeting of the Minds/Free Seed Distribution,” or their “Beekeeping Workshop“, both happening tomorrow, to involve whoever is interested in supporting and growing local, and how it really is possible for anyone.

An organization such as the Niagara Farm Project is exactly what the region needs to boost the amount of people supporting and growing local- it’s a teaching organization as well as an information hub. For those who have been gardening and farming for years, or those city dwellers who decided to switch things up a little, the Niagara Farm Project is there to help make our community a more local and sustainable place to live, one seed at a time.

The Niagara Farm Project is currently holding a contest where you can win a Farm in a Box, which is literally what it sounds. The box is filled with the starters for your own food garden, plus the help of installation from the Niagara Farm Project crew. To enter the contest, visit their Facebook page,

and ‘like’ and ‘share’ the post for your chance at winning your own Farm in a Box.

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4 Reasons to Support your Local “Girl Gang”

The collaboration of many small businesses is the main purpose behind Skinner starting Northern Goods.

Did you know?

Canada was home to 950,000 self-employed women in 2011, with Ontario holding the highest percentage of those women.

As a woman business, Melinda Skinner, owner of Sunstone Jewels, which was established in 2014, knows all about why it’s important to support local businesses.

After operating for over three years, Skinner has decided to add on and develop a new company, Northern Goods, which is a monthly subscription service featuring handmade Canadian artisan products. With this new venture launching in less than a week, Skinner shares her thoughts on supporting local.

Just some of the work Melinda Skinner produces for Sunstone Jewels

Here are four reasons, of the endless reasons, you should be supporting local:

1. They love what they do and it shows

Skinner’s accessory business, Sunstone Jewels, was built on a whim when Skinner’s friends loved what she was creating and started asking for their own, and so it began. “It was never on my to-do list, but I loved it from the second it began,” says Skinner. The love a business owner has for what they do shows in their work, Skinner is no different.

2. By supporting a small business owner, you’re giving back to your community

With the difficult economy, and job competition, it’s hard on everyone. Skinner says when you’re spending your money and directly putting it back into the hands of locals you’re building a better economy locally as well.

3. You’re helping someone fulfill their dreams

When someone has enough guts to start their own business, they have a deep desire, and Skinner believes when you shop local you’re supporting these community members not just to pay their bills but also fulfill their dreams.

4. There is no denying the quality

The difference when you look at a local craft vs. a mass produced overseas item is undeniable. You’re supporting the craftsmanship, time, and dedication put into creating items, or building businesses from the people around you.

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One of Welland’s finest

Cozy, unique, fun and welcoming, to all, are a few of the things The Black Sheep Lounge radiates out of its’ busy Welland location.

If you’re looking for a local place to check out, where they support local in everything they do, you need to head over to The Black Sheep Lounge. From the tea and coffee they brew, to the amazing menu their creative chef changes quarterly, all the way to the local artists they feature on their stage and all over the walls, The Black Sheep Lounge is your one stop spot for all things local.

Lucas Spinosa, 22, the owner of The Black Sheep Lounge has been dreaming of opening his own cafe since he began drinking coffee at age nine. After being open for just under two years, the lounge has already developed a steady clientele and the next adventure is already beginning: Spinosa is becoming a roaster.

The Hellfire Coffee Co. Roaster inside of The Black Sheep Lounge.

“Within about two to three months max, we’ll be roasting our own,” says Spinosa. The lounge currently co-roasts with a roaster in Cambridge, Ont, Monigram Coffee Roasters, but as soon as they’re up and running, they’ll be using strictly Hellfire Coffee Company beans. “This is really going to expand our reach,” says Spinosa.

“Because we’re a small town, no one is doing this,” says Spinosa. “People already have this vibe about The Black Sheep, it’s a warm and inviting place, even when I’m not here and since we’re already established, people will embrace this brand.”

The Black Sheep Lounge has made a point of buying fresh since day one. “Not one thing comes in a box, not one thing is frozen, anything you can buy in Niagara, we buy in Niagara,” says Spinosa.

Rosé Penné with mixed veggies, one of the many great Winter menu items at The Black Sheep Lounge.

Small businesses donate 250% more than larger businesses to non profits and community causes, something that Spinosa plans to do with his new roasting company and has already started to with The Black Sheep Lounge.

Hope you decide to head on over to The Black Sheep Lounge for a cupa’ joe and some great home-cooked food, if you do, let me know what you think in the comments below. Happy supporting local!

A cup of Japanese Cherry tea, one of the many teas served at The Black Sheep Lounge.
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Fonthill’s own: Keith’s

If you’re from the Niagara Region, you know there are breakfast places up the wazoo in this region. Now although a lot of those are privately owned by families, we also have your typical chains such as, Donut Diner, Tim Hortons and McDonalds. Nothing against a good Tims bagel or McDonalds hash brown, but there really is something warm and comforting about a true, local breakfast place.

A place where a server who knows everyone by name, welcomes you to a restaurant filled with the smell   of fresh baked apple pie and a pot of coffee brewing. Bar stools are filled with people from all over, whose families have known each other for generations, sharing stories over the farm fresh eggs and delicious chocolate milkshakes.

The comfort of a place like Keith’s is exactly that.

Keith’s restaurant has been family owned for almost 60 years. It’s located right on the main drag in Fonthill, Ont., with an all day breakfast menu. Most of the products Keith’s buys come from local farmers like, DeVries Fruit Farm from Fenwick, Ont., who supply fresh fruit for the to-die-for pies. Klager’s Meats is where Keith’s had gotten all of their meats from, for years, until Klager’s shut down due to retirement in 2015.

Keith’s is a truly hometown, local supporter who is sure to use local products as much as possible. They aren’t only a breakfast place, as they also make soups, salads, burgers and fries as well as, sandwiches (one of their most popular is the Club).

Of all the wonderful options they have to choose from, their pies are their most popular item. They’re made fresh daily, with only the freshest ingredients for the Lemon Meringue, Coconut Cream, Apple, cherry and Strawberry Rhubarb, just to name a few! By far, my number one reason to pop into Keith’s would be for a true, classic chocolate milkshake.

Hope to see you at good old Keith’s sometime!

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Hello & Welcome to the Local Gal

Hi Folks (my favourite all encompassing term)!

I landed here because I have a strong love of the environment and I have the desire to share that love with you every week. I’m most certainly not one of those who only claims to love the environment but then  I genuinely love the environment and all that taking care of it entails. One of my favourite topics is food sustainability and supporting local, which is exactly what I’ll be discussing each week with you!

With my passion lying in supporting local, on a global scale. If everyone did their part to do something little to help their local community, we would all be able to make an impact on a global level. Each week I’ll be sharing a local business or location that you could be supporting as opposed to going to get it at a big box store, and why this is important.

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