By: Tim Shuff Published: In The Hills, March 31, 2013
With the mega quarry shelved, opponents say they’ll keep fighting until they get permanent protection for farmland in Ontario.
Before the fight to stop the mega quarry attracted national attention, it began in local farm kitchens such as the Armstrongs’. Now snug in his mother’s arms at the table with three generations of his family, baby Derek attended his first anti-quarry rally when he was just three weeks old. He is the latest addition to a family that first tilled soil in the area in 1853, and he represents the hope for the future as his grandfather Ralph Armstrong and other activists turn their attention beyond Melancthon to secure permanent protection for prime farmland and source water for Derek and generations to follow.
On a cold February evening in Honeywood, at the Taters Not Craters party held to celebrate the demise of the mega quarry, a cheer erupts when three-week-old Derek Martin is held aloft like a newborn king. As the grandson of Redickville farmers Ralph and Mary Lynne Armstrong, tiny Derek represents the seventh generation of the family who took up farming here in 1853.
The Armstrongs were among the original few farmers bordering the proposed Melancthon mega quarry who refused to sell to The Highland Companies and formed the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce (NDACT) to oppose it, trading lottery-sized buyouts for a new life of activism. So it’s fitting that the family’s newest member should be here, to celebrate the protection of his home turf and water.
On November 21 The Highland Companies, with little explanation or fanfare, withdrew its application to build a 2,316-acre quarry in Melancthon and cancelled its ambitions to rebuild the railway between Orangeville and Owen Sound, noting there was insufficient community and government support to continue. A significant understatement, considering that just a month earlier the Soupstock anti-quarry protest at a public park in Toronto had drawn a crowd 40,000 strong.
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