So today, I went tree planting! Wooooooo sounds like a party right?
We went with SAVE (students against the violation of the environment) and planted trees at what we thought would be the UTM campus. We were actually planting trees on a very steep hill right beside the road. It wasn't too bad though, the soil was very clay-y, and there were tonnes of rocks, but that's all to be expected.
What was unexpected was the "nature hike" and the "Seed ball activity" we were encouraged/forced to do afterwards. For someone that was under the impression that we would only plant trees, it was in interesting experience. Now, it doesn't sound that bad, but I hate nature walks. They remind me of all the times my family and other likeminded asians gather together to go and violate a provincial/random park on weekends.
The car is loaded up with chairs, and parasols or whatever, and coolers chocked full of food that no one will finish along with ridiculous snacks in case anyone is still hungry. After we arrive, the walking commences, all in a hige pack, with small children darting around people that may or may not be part of the asian congregation. Of course, all this commotion brings out the mosquitoes. And if there's anything I hate more than nature walks, it's small insects. Knowing that they are there makes me paranoid, and then I feel like there's insects all over me, and then I start running and flapping my arms like a psycho. At this point, all other asians decide to intervene, and offer me random herbal concoctions made to keep the bugs at bay, all the while insisting that DEET is going to kill me. Personally, I think I'll take my chances with DEET and keep my sanity. Just when you think you are going to go insane/collapse, a group photo is called for. All the adults gather with their visor hats, raise the sun-shield or whatever that thing is, and smiles at the camera while wearing their backpacks/fanny packs. Upon return to where the cars are parked, picnic tables are scouted, and the crap in the car is dragged to where ever the table has been dragged to to stay out of the sun. The feasting usually commences from there, while pictures of the food is taken, and pictures of you eating is taken. When this is all over, everything is repacked into the cars, and we all head to our respective homes.
This is exactly what the nature hike felt like, I was always anticipating someone in a visor-shield-thing to pop up, or for someone to insist that I stay out of the sun for fear of getting a -GASP- Tan. Those asian treks have slowly made me loathe nature, and forests, and especially trails. Which is exactly what the "nature hike" was. Of course, I wouldn't even call the place we went a park, it was like a small strip of woods that just happened to avoid being bulldozed with a trail winding through them. There was litter everywhere, and the "beautiful canopy" was non-existant because it is spring. Upon arrival at a clearing, we were told that we would be making "seed balls", an innocent sounding activity, right?
"Seed balls" were balls made of clay, compost (manure! poo!) and the seeds of native plants. We were told to grab the gluey mixture and throw it somewhere to "encourage" "natural" growth. As much as I support the regional flora, seeding is not natural growth. Nor is the planting of natural shrubs and trees. And I do not think that southern ontario was ever a "prarie" like area. The soil is practically artist quality clay! And no matter what you call it, compost is probably mostly made of decomposed poo, and I am not touching that with my hands that I just washed 5 times to get the dirt off of. It was at this point that I got out my "Shiying is having a very bad trip" face. And I kept it on all the way home, to prepare for any surprises.
TL;DR Tree planting is okay, nature walks and seed balls are not.