WORLD

Marie Rose Bain (inset) and the Haitian women involved in her gardening project

ECO CHIC Canadian women SETTING

{THE

GREEN SCENE}

FIRST PLACE
GARDEN PARTY
Marie Rose Bain

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the TREND for global change.
TEXT: AMANDA WENEK

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What Haitian-born Bain founded the Horticultural-Agricultural Centre in Les Cayes, Haiti, in March 2010 because the Montreal-based social worker wanted to teach women to grow their own food so they could take better care of their families. Why “During my many trips to Haiti, I kept noticing that the people seldom used the land surrounding their homes for gardens,” says Bain. “This was unbearable for me, so I attended a community meeting and asked if they would be interested in launching an organic-farming project. Within a week, we started it!” Perks of the job “The part I like best is when I’m training the women,” says Bain. “I explain the nutritional value of different foods and how they can prevent malnutrition.” Results “We’ve worked with 50 families, and we’ve planted more than 12,500 vegetables and fruit trees, which has bumped up the production of food by 20 percent and reduced reports of malnutrition in the area by 15 percent.” h
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aring about the earth isn’t a fashionable fad for the winners of this year’s Yves Rocher Women of the Earth awards. Unlike Anna Sui’s cat hat or the Jena Theo “hair headband,” the projects that these women have launched aren’t passing fancies. They’re in it for the long haul because they share a “militant commitment” to the environment, says Aurelia Carré, director of the Yves Rocher Foundation. “It’s a way of life. They all started with very simple, basic ideas—vegetables, fruits and water—which are the very building blocks for sustaining life.” Since the foundation launched its awards program in 2000, the botanical-based body-care and beauty company has given away 245 prizes in 15 countries

valued at more than $1.2-million. At an awards ceremony earlier this year in Toronto, Amanda Lang, senior business correspondent for the CBC, described the winners’ work as beautiful examples of the butterfly effect. “In the business world, bigger is always believed to be better, but small can be beautiful,” she said. “You’ve shown through your work that the very smallest of actions can create a tsunami of hope and inspiration.”
Bain explains her nutritional goals.

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I don’t SECOND think I’d ever PLACE picked fruit TREE OF LIFE from a tree Laura Reinsborough until I was PRIZE $4,000 the Tree (notfar What Not Far From fromthetree.org) is a fruit-picking initia25.

Laura Reinsborough says that picking fruit is a simple yet profound act.

Nicole Meunier opens the tap on the new well they’ve drilled in Mali, West Africa.

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CLAYTON TURNER (L. REINSBOROUGH IN TREE); MIKE FORD (L. REINSBOROUGH WITH BASKET OF APPLES)

tive based in Toronto. The fruit, which is harvested from 220-plus trees, is evenly divided among the homeowners who have signed up for the program, the 750 volunteers who pick the fruit and 25 social-service agencies in the city. Why “It’s easier to get an apple from New Zealand than it is from Toronto,” says Reinsborough. “I don’t think I’d ever picked fruit from a tree until I was 25. There’s such a disconnect between us and our food, so to be able to pick fruit from your own city is quite a unique experience. It’s a simple act, but the impact is profound.” Perks of the job “Seeing how it has caught on like wildfire is very satisfying,” she says. “It’s a really tangible way to make sense of huge issues like hunger and climate change.” Results “Every year, 1.5 million pounds of fruit are grown in Toronto, but it often goes to waste because it isn’t picked. Our goal is to make sure that it’s picked and it’s shared. We’re also working with other cities so that this concept can spread.”

To hear women say that they won’t have to worry about water rationing— even during the drought period—is priceless.

THIRD PLACE
WATERWORKS
Nicole Meunier

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What Puits Eau Mali (puitseau mali.org) is an organization that builds wells to provide clean drinking water to Malian communities in West Africa. Why “Being a mother myself, I would watch these women walk long distances only to return with dirty water to offer their families,” says Nicole Meunier, who is based in Terrebonne, Que. “This was something that shocked me and made me angry. If you could see the eyes of the children who stared at our water bottles, you would understand the urgency of our actions.” Perks of the job “My favourite part is when we’re drilling and interacting with the villagers,” she says. “The smiles on people’s faces, the joy in their eyes. To hear the women say that they won’t have to worry about water rationing—even during the drought period—is priceless.” Results “We have drilled eight wells now and more than 5,000 people have benefited from this, but our hope is to drill 60 wells in three years.” n