Harry Burton, the environmentalist

My strong environmental tendencies are due to my upbringing. Growing up in Cobalt, Ontario, a small silver mining town in Northern Ontario, children we were exposed to nature and tended to spend the day outside hiking in the woods, swimming, exploring, looking for mineral specimens, exploring the old mine ruins, head frames or shafts and playing sports. A very health upbringing for kids. Along with that, my father, Jack was one of the early conservationists. He was also an artist who enjoyed nature, never ceasing to view it through his different perception. He hated to see the overcutting of forests. He also deplored the excessive mineral depletion of Northern Ontario, which left nothing in the towns when the mines closed. With all the millions of dollars of silver removed from Cobalt, now that most mines are closed, very little is left to benefit the town for all that extracted wealth. Casa Loma, a beautiful castle in downtown Toronto, was built with money from Cobalt silver.

Dad often launched into a tirade against the destruction of the mining headframes in Cobalt as tourism seemed to be the only economic hope left for Cobalt. Yet now, very few of the historical features remain.

I tend to marvel at the beauty, complexity and efficiency of nature. Rather than go to a church or support any organized religion, I prefer to stand under a big tree, walk along the beach, look at a flower, pet my dogs or talk to some unique people. You can’t help but admire the creator, in whatever form it exists.

So it was natural, with a strong love of nature, and a realization that the earth is our sustenance that I became an environmentalist. It was a logical step then to become an organic farmer and to incorporate with that, the collection of over 125 apple varieties to help increase genetic diversity. As a bonus, I get to taste the some incredible apples and also to educate people on the benefits of organic farming. People’s reaction to the first bite of an apple is a great reward.