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A team within REAL called “Journey to Sustainability (J2S) ” has been organizing a series of presentations for area residents that will inspire them to learn ways to reduce their environmental impact and move toward a more sustainable lifestyle.

Want to Know More?

If you would like to participate or know more about the Sustainability Team, please contact Peter at [email protected]  or (613) 284-8338 .

Please join the discussion through the Facebook Group “Journey to Sustainable Living” that is intended to engage those living in Smiths Falls, Perth, Rideau Lakes and surrounding areas.

What’s Next?

Notices of upcoming presentation will be on REAL’s website and Facebook pages.   J2S  maintains a mailing list if you would like to be alerted to upcoming presentations or events.  Please provide your name email and postal code to Vanessa.

Most presentations are recorded.  Links can be found below.

You can also join REAL’s mailing list.  You will receive REAL’ s newsletter five times a year, as well as notices of all REAL events and volunteer opportunities. 

J2S Presentations

Participants in the December 2023 webinar had an overview of heat pumps by Cindy Dopson of Thake Home Comfort Centre. 

You can view the presentation on the J2S Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/379499592936481



A presentation on Fungal Dominant Compost took place  Wed. March 22, 2023.  You can download if here:

Fungal Dominant Compost





The August 11, 2022 presentation Biochar:  A Climate Change Solution with Nathaniel Morris provided an update on the Rideau Roundtable’s biochar project that it has underway at the Smiths Falls Municipal Compost Site.    The presentation was livestreamed on the J2S Facebook page. 





Joyce Hostyn from Little Forests Kingston, described how their organization is transforming their city one garden, one neighbourhood, one Little Forest  at a time using the Miyawaki Reforestation method.  Joyce is co-founder of Little Forests Kingston, a member of 1000 Islands Master Gardeners and an adjunct professor at Queen’s University in the Master of Earth and Energy Resources Leadership program.   

See the June 8 presentation the the J2S Facebook page.




Karl Grenke, Senior Planner for the Town of Smiths Falls, talked about the Town’s Tree Canopy Policy on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.   See the presentation.  







The REAL Deal:  More Than Just a Reuse Store.  The REAL Deal Reuse Store does more than accept and resell reusable household and renovation items.  Barb Hicks explains about some of the REAL and REAL Deal  programs you can access there like the Tool Library, e-waste depot, a dropoff for other recyclable materials energy audits. 

The March 16, 2022 session was livestreamed on the Journey to Sustainability Facebook page. Features outside the store will be covered in a future presentation.



BioChar vs. Climate Change with Nathaniel Morris was the December topic.   Biochar is charcoal produced from plant matter which can be stored in the soil as a means of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

Nate  discussed biochar and the role it can play in the fight against climate change. Joined by his son Edison (age 5), they  explained how biochar is made and used in the garden. They  also described how The Rideau Roundtable has entered a WWF science competition called the Nature X Challenge. The Smiths Falls team is using biochar to get young people involved with quantifying carbon in nature.

A recording of the December 2nd presentation is available.

Biochar Presentation


Regenerative Farming:  A Local Example was the topic for September 8th.  We heard from a  farmer from Harvest Acres in Montague, who has embraced the Regenerative Farming Methodology.  See also https://www.harvestacresfarm.ca/.




The J2S August 11 presentation was Wetland Appreciation. The session included three speakers:  Simon Lunn on wetlands and wildlife, particularly what you will find on the Smiths Falls Swale,   Andrea Howarth on insects and arthropods, and Jake Wilson on plants, wetland benefits and wetland challenges.  A recording is available.

Wetlands Presentation.  (1 hour 11 minutes)


Canoe tours were offered on Sun. August 22.   Email Jake for details.


A River Appreciation zoom session took place on Tuesday, July 27, 2021 led by Jake Wilson, the Rideau Roundtable’s Rideau Experience Voyageur Canoe Coordinator.  This was a join presentation of the Rideau Roundtable and REAL.  Attendees were invited to join one of the  River Appreciation canoe tours on Sat. July 31.  Five groups of people had a chance for a quick explore of the area just downstream from Old Sly’s Lock.  




The  June 16, 2021  presentation was Creating a Monarch Butterfly Garden, presented by members of REAL’s Monarch Team:  Donna McKenna, Marje Fletcher and Aira Sarmiento.   It covered  how the gardens on the REAL Deal site came to be, monarch butterflies and why they need protection, and some of the specific plants that were used to attract butterflies.

Watch Presentation




The J2S Earth Day presentation  April 22 , 2021 was on Regenerative Farming, a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems.  Thanks to OACETT, The Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists, for sponsoring. Three speakers  participated:  Carlos Alvarado,   Myra Van Die and  Doug Savage.  A Youtube version of the  75 minute presentation, recorded by Cogeco YourTV,  is available here.

See this story by Tom Van Dusen in the Nation Valley News on feeding seaweed to cattle, triggered by the presentation. 

A March 31, 2021  presentation was directed at residents in the neighbourhood of several potential shoreline naturalization projects, as J2s and the Rideau Roundtable gathered feedback on the demonstration sites from the public.  A 59 minutes YourTV YouTube recording is available here






The  J2S presentation “Naturalizing our Shorelines” on March 18, 2021 explained why naturalizing our shorelines is important, especially in terms of climate change.

A recording of the presentation is available.  Just contact us.



“Plastics in our Waterways” was a joint presentation of J2S and the Rideau Roundtable held March 10, 2021.  Jake Wilson, Riparian Restoration Specialist intern with the Roundtable, talked about why it is important to protect our waterways, the problem of plastics in our rivers and lakes,  and simple ways for everyone to help in their daily lives.  Jake also detailed the local Rideau River cleanup he organized for Waste Reduction week in October 2020.  A recording of the zoom presentation is available here.


The “Well Preserved” workshop on September 30, 2020  described the basics of preserving local and seasonal produce.  Presenters were Judy Drummond, a judge for the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies , and Heather Mitchell-Adams, owner of Modern Thymes Health and Bulk Foods.  Some participants came to the Smiths Falls Legion in person, others connected via Zoom.  Here is a recording of the presentations. 

Other Events.  A number of events were cancelled as a result of COVID 19:  the groups participation in the North Grenville  Sustainability Fair and Market on April 19, an  Earth Day Potluck dinner on April 22, an  address by Bea Johnson, author of Zero-Waste Home,  on May 28 and other workshops. 

“Waste  Audit” in January 2020 provided ideas on how to reduce household waste. Tony Mack, Engineering Technologist with the Town of Perth, described their community compost program that has operated since 2008.  Cathie Green, Public Works Assistant with the Township of Drummond North Elmsley, explained what happens to our recyclables once they reach the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). Vanessa Bernicky, Environmental Coordinator for the Town of Smiths Falls, explained how to take an inventory of the waste created by your household and provided suggestions for reducing it. 

The “Meal Planning 101” presentation in November 2019 featured three guest speakers.   Norma Wrightly described how the organizers of Trinity Tuesdays manage to feed a fluctuating number of guests for less than $1 per person at their weekly community dinner.  Heather Mitchell-Adams described her method of family meal-planning that saves time, reduces waste and simplifies her busy life.   Rebekah Nitschmann,  a registered dietician with Rideau Community Health  Services,  explained Canada’s new Food Guide, the basics of a nutritious diet and how meal  planning can make meeting nutrition goals easier.

The series began with a “Towards Zero Waste” presentation in October 2019 with guest speakers Michelle Dunford, who practices a near zero-waste lifestyle, and Heather Mitchell-Adams, owner of Modern Thymes.  The group who planned the evening were already thinking of possibilities to provide additional information and resources on more specific topics, starting with meal planning. 



Town of Perth Composting Program, Tony Mack, Town of Perth (PDF of slide presentation)

Recycling, Cathie Green, Drummond North Elmsley (PDF of slide presentation)

Waste Audit, Vanessa Bernicky, Town of Smiths Falls (PDF of slide presentation)

Well Preserved Workshop, Judy Drummond and Heather Mitchell Adams (YouTube)


Videos of January 2020 “Waste Audit” Presentation:

Introduction by Smiths Falls CAO and MC Malcolm Morris  and the Composting and Recycling presentations:

Vanessa Bernicky, Town of Smiths Falls, presentation:

Questions and Answers:

One last question and conclusion: